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Dreams take flight

John Forbes, PH’80, honored with Next-Generation Pharmacist award

Forbes was recognized for his commitment to his patients and community, as well as his involvement with Honor Flight.

It all comes back to community for Drake pharmacy alumnus John Forbes. The north central Iowa native chose to make his home in the Des Moines metro and purchased his first Medicap pharmacy in Urbandale (where he currently serves on city council) shortly after graduation. Past president of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, Forbes, PH’80, regularly returns to campus to speak to first-year student. He also continues to connect with patients on a personal level. In addition, Forbes was instrumental in organizing Central Iowa Honor Flight, which charters planes to bring WWII veterans to their Washington, D.C., memorial.

“As pharmacists, we’re in the business figuring out solutions to help people in their lives,” Forbes says. “I like to get involved in my community by volunteering for different organizations. The main focus of our profession — whether we’re doing it behind the prescription counter or out in the community — is helping people.”

Because the profession is geared toward service, countless pharmacists around the country have done extraordinary things to enhance their communities. But only one is honored each year with the prestigious Next-Generation Pharmacist Civic Leader of the Year. This fall, it was Forbes who was recognized for his service to his patients and the greater Des Moines community. The award was presented in Boston at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy & Technology Conference.

“Drake gave me a good foundation to move me on to the next level,” Forbes says. “I’ve used skills and knowledge from Drake in my life and career and am happy to give back. I love making an impact and a positive change on people’s lives. The awards are nice, but I don’t do this for awards. It’s really coming from my heart.”

The Next Generation Pharmacist Award was also bestowed as a result of his continued efforts with Central Iowa Honor Flight, which he co-founded  in 2009.

The organization started with a goal to raise $500,000 to send 700 veterans from Des Moines to Washington, D.C. But with the help of major contributions from Hy-Vee, Casey’s General Stores and philanthropist Bill Knapp, the committee surpassed the target by more than double the amount. They were able to charter five flights on 747 aircraft and serve more than 1,800 veterans. A documentary film about the Central Iowa Honor Flight experience is in pre-screening, with possible broadcasts on the Discovery and History Channels in the works.

“You have to be really focused on your goals,” Forbes says. “We were very determined and had to work diligently because every day we are losing 1,000 of these men and women from the Greatest Generation.”

Forbes’ demonstrations of service, perseverance and a willingness to take on new challenges align perfectly with the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) mission to graduate liberally educated professionals who are dedicated to serving their clients, patients, profession and community. He also works to instill these traits in current Drake pharmacy students through his role as a preceptor.

“John is an example of a graduate who truly lives our mission,” says Raylene Rospond, CPHS dean and deputy provost. “His story demonstrates his service to all of these constituents, and his work as a preceptor for our students provides a realism to our mission. He is the ultimate role model for the characteristics we are trying to develop in our graduates.”