From sailor to professor

From sailor to professor

UF College of Pharmacy faculty member charts a course into the life of a professor

By Ansley Pentz

Faculty Robert Navarro_MCM_4588Before coming to the University of Florida, Robert Navarro, Pharm.D., lived on a sailboat for three years.
“I wanted to know what it would be like to have a sailboat as the only home I had,” he said. “And so I convinced my wife to sell our house, sell our car. We kept the dog.”

Navarro thought living on a sailboat would be a precursor to retirement.

But he realized he didn’t want to stop working.

While making the pilgrimage from the Bahamas to the Chesapeake Bay each year, he’d leave the boat in a marina, fly to a business meeting and come back to his home, where he’d continue to consult with pharmaceutical companies and work online.

“If you have a phone and Wi-Fi, you can work anywhere in the world,” Navarro said.

Navarro is clear about his passion for managed-care pharmacy, a field in which pharmacists select the best prescription drugs for an organization, like a large insurance program. He developed such programs for 15 years for large insurance companies. Now he teaches courses about the subject at UF.

Managed-care pharmacy is a dynamic process because new drugs come into the market frequently, he said. However, new drugs can be expensive for both patients and insurance companies, and it’s a managed-care pharmacist’s job to select the safest, most effective and most cost-effective drugs for the widest audience.

Navarro doesn’t take his job lightly: “You’re dealing with millions of lives and making decisions for millions of lives,” he said.

Five years ago, Navarro was invited to give a guest lecture about managed-care  pharmacy at UF. The university had been using a textbook he wrote about the same topic.

He said he was surprised when he was asked to join the faculty after the lecture.

“It was nothing I had planned in my life,” he said.

Most of Navarro’s life hasn’t been exactly what he planned, he said.

“For whatever reason, I’ve never been able to predict what I would be doing in the future,” he said. “That is, I’ve always done something rather surprising, something that wasn’t planned. And it’s always been very good.”

Navarro said his careers — from working in managed-care pharmacy for insurance companies to teaching at UF — have been a result of having connections and being in the right place at the right time.
“The world is run by those who show up,” he said. “People say, ‘Raise your hand,’ and you say, ‘I’ll do it.’”

He encourages his students to take a chance, to do something they’re unfamiliar with, like he did when he got involved with managed-care pharmacy.

“It’s been a delightful life,” Navarro said. “Nothing I had planned for, but, you know, it’s been rich with opportunities.”