In this edition of “Faculty Focus,” we sat down with Dr. Steven Prinster, Director of the Touro University Nevada Medical Health Sciences Program.
Where are you from and what was it like growing up?
I’m from a small suburb outside of Salt Lake City, and spent all my time outdoors. I grew up with three brothers and two sisters, and I’m the second oldest.
Did you always know you would go into the science/research field?
Growing up, I wanted to be a computer programmer. I’ve always liked solving problems. In high school though, I had some influential teachers who really sparked my interest in science.
After high school, I went to college at BYU and focused on becoming a microbiologist. After my first year of undergrad, I took two years off and went on my mission to Finland. Once I came back, I finished with my degree in microbiology and a minor in chemistry.
How did you arrive at Touro University Nevada?
After working at a microbiology testing lab, I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. That’s where my interest was really sparked about how cells communicate with each other and how drugs work.
After Omaha, I looked at a couple of different places to do a post-doctoral fellowship. I went to Emory University in Atlanta and focused on a new paradigm that was starting to gain traction. Sitting in traffic everyday was awful, though, and that’s when I decided I would never live more than 10 miles from work.
I taught at a pharmacy school outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania for three years until my wife’s desire to be closer to her family out West and to move to a warmer climate won. I’ve been at Touro for almost 10 years, which is the longest I’ve ever been at a job.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching here?
Being at Touro has been great. We’ve had a lot of development and growth being able to teach the PA’s and the DO’s. I’ve worked on how I can best prepare the students in their chosen careers, and the interactions we have and the opportunities for development are my favorite things about the university.
In your particular role, how do you help students the most?
It’s important to help them appreciate pharmacology and understand what drugs are, what they do, and how they do what they do. One of the things that is most important to remember is that drugs have side effects and are going to affect someone’s quality of life. We try to help the students understand that.
If you could give your students a single piece of advice, what would it be?
I would encourage them to keep reading. Every day, I get things from the FDA about drug changes, recalls, safety classifications, approvals, etc. Be diverse about where you consume and get your information from because being able to read and understand the literature is critical.
If you weren’t in academia or research, which field do you think you’d be working in?
I’m sure I would’ve been in computer science or programming. I’ve always had the mindset: ‘I want to be able to do this; how can I do that?’ It doesn’t matter if I’m working on a project in my garage or my computer, I want to be the one to solve the problems.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I really like to toy around with my 3-D printer. I used to like running until my knees gave me some issues. Now, I love spending time outdoors with my kids. They love getting outside and playing with our drone.