Learning from a Distance

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers November 2016

As the wife of a collegiate basketball coach, I have lived in 7 states over 8 years; moving is simply a part of the game.

As the wife of a collegiate basketball coach, I have lived in 7 states over 8 years; moving is simply a part of the game. During the first few years of this lifestyle, I had come to accept that I would not have a real career, and that graduate or professional school was out of the question. I certainly felt as though I could not be accepted into and get through pharmacy school and rotations when I was consistently on the move.

Four months after my husband and I moved to Montana in 2009, I was able to secure a job working in a community health center as a medication assistance coordinator. Given the economic climate of the time, I was grateful to have a job, but this position soon blossomed into something much more. During my time there, I was frequently mistaken as a pharmacist when rotating students, from the local pharmacy school, would shadow me; over time, this led me to consider applying to and attending pharmacy school. While I was concerned about the possibility of moving again, I eventually decided that while I could not predict the future, I still needed to follow my passion and pursue a career as a pharmacist.

As I took the next steps in determining what classes I needed to take to get into pharmacy school, and figuring out how to fit that into my work schedule, I was recruited into a new position by the local nonprofit hospital, where I worked for a great woman who encouraged me to continue my education. With her help, I began taking up to 9 credits per semester while working full time; this led to many late nights and many passed-up social events on the weekends, but I knew that current sacrifices would lead to future successes.

After about a year and a half of having this schedule and preparing to apply for pharmacy school at the University of Montana (UM), my husband was offered another job at Oregon State University (OSU). Although my husband’s new employer had a pharmacy school, almost all of the prerequisites were different from those at UM. This forced me to reassess what was needed and figure out how to get it done, but I was able to formulate another plan of action.

Just a year later, however, my plans changed once again when the OSU head coach and supporting coaching staff were surprisingly let go. Thus, we were left searching for new jobs and facing the likely reality of another move. Fortunately, my husband was able to find another job, this time in Utah, so we packed our bags, yet again, and made the move.

Now that my husband was settled, I turned my attention back to my own career aspirations. I remembered a meeting I had with a previous advisor who had mentioned a remote four-year pharmacy program offered by the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions (CUSPHP) in Omaha, Nebraska. This sounded like it would make the most sense in my life, but the prospect led to many questions. Would an online program work for me? What were the logistics? Would I get in? Would it affect getting a job in the future? As I researched the program, I learned that the online students use distance technology to complete the same classes as the on-site students; the only exceptions to this are the labs, which remote students take during a short on-site period during the summer. I also found that I had already completed all of the prerequisites, so all that was left was to complete the application, write my essays, and take the PCAT.

After sending in my application for the CUSPHP distance program in September 2014, I was invited to the Creighton campus for an interview in early December. The interview process was surprisingly inviting and unintimidating, as I was welcomed by faculty, staff, and current students. In speaking with technology staff during this interview, I was reassured about the demands of the distance program, and knew I had made the right decision. A couple weeks after the interview and a few days before Christmas, I received a phone call from CUSPHP to let me know I had been accepted into the distance program, a decision that left me both ecstatic and relieved.

I am now about to begin my second year of pharmacy school at Creighton, and I continue to be pleased with my decision. Although the CUSPHP distance program is rigorous, it has provided me with flexibility in my day-to-day life, and helped me to break free of the figurative chains that prevented me from seeking a career as a pharmacist. Things may not always be easy, run smoothly, or go as planned, but it is always worth it to pursue your dreams and educate yourself to the highest level of your abilities.

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