Craig Campbell is retiring from his 39-year career as a pharmacist on June 30.
A chance conversation with a relative changed the course of his life when deciding on a career.
“By chance, I was visiting with my great uncle who was a pharmacist,” he said. ” Willard Higbee, he was the brother of my grandma, Bernice Campbell.”
“I confided in him that I was working on a chemical engineering degree but did not think I could get through the math requirements,” Campbell said. “He said I would love pharmacy, so I visited with Ken Asher and Bob Tuchscherer, local pharmacists at the time, and they agreed that pharmacy was a wonderful profession.”
Technology advancement has changed his job as a pharmacist.
“Technology has advanced so much with the electronic medical record,” Campbell said. “It brings into view so much more information that lets you know more about the patient, not just in the present moment but what has gone on before.”
“Prescriptions are so much safer now that we do not have to figure out the doctor’s handwriting,” he said. “Sorry doctor friends. Pharmacists are an integral part of the patient care team now, since when I started in the fall of 1982.”
He has most recently been Mercy Health System’s Director of Pharmacy Performance, St. Louis, since November 2014. But his office is located in a wing of the former Mercy Hospital, although during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has worked mostly from home, he said.
From 1999-2018 Campbell served as Mercy Hospital Fort Scott’s Pharmacy Director, before that from ’92-’99, was a staff pharmacist at Mt. Carmel Hospital (now Ascension Via Christi) in Pittsburg.
Campbell worked from1983-1992 for four pharmacy’s starting with his first job in Texas.
Campbell completed a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, OK, and an associate of arts degree in pre-pharmacy from Fort Scott Community College.
For Campbell, the best part of his career was being a part of patient care teams, which come up with the best plan to improve patient health, he said.
“That has been rewarding,” Campbell said. “While at Mercy Fort Scott…my hometown, I was able to care for a lot of friends and family.”
“I once went into the room of an elderly teacher I had in the seventh or eighth grade,” he said. “The patient taught math. The patient said I must have been a student, but could not recall my name. I told who I was. The patient asked what I did for a living and I said I was a pharmacist. The patient smiled and said, ‘I must have been a pretty good teacher.’ Yes, the patient was a good teacher.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic has been the biggest challenge of his career.
“In the six years I have worked for Mercy at the system level, the main responsibility is to make sure each hospital has the medications they need when they need them,” Campbell said. “COVID was the most difficult time as we were competing with every hospital in the country to have enough meds to treat patients, especially those on ventilators. There were many 20 hour days in April and May 2020.”
What is on the horizon for you?
My wife (Jane) says I am trading one OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) for another,” he said. “I would really like to help the city and county improve the overall quality of life through organizing volunteer groups to help our neighbors with whatever they need.”
Campbell is chairman of the Good Neighbor Action Team, which helps people with work on yards, house painting, etc.
“The community has three big events coming up next year with Big Kansas Road Trip in May, Good Ole Days, and the Fort Scott High School all-class reunion next June. We really have an opportunity to show off our great town and county.”
“We will also travel some and see more of the grandkids’ activities,” he said.
Campbel has four children: Ryan (who is deceased); Brett and wife, Kayla, Pittsburg; Trevor and wife, Jami, Overland Park; and Jenna Campbell and her fiance Devin, Fort Scott. His grandkids are Mackenize Campbell, Spokane, WA; Brecken and Landry Campbell, Pittsburg and Kennadie, Rush, Austyn, and Larkin Campbell, Overland Park.