Balancing military service and pharmacy school – WSU Insider


Military Appreciation Month is held every May, and Washington State University wanted to recognize the accomplishments of a pharmacy student who had to put his degree on hold while returning to active duty. to serve his country abroad.

Colton Sorensen, who served in the United States Marine Corps, is one of many service men and women pursuing doctoral degrees in pharmacy at WSU.

In 2020, Sorensen was asked to take a break from his third year of pharmacy school to deploy to Georgia, a country that shares a border with Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. The deployment ended up delaying her graduation for a year. Along with an active duty tour of the countries of Georgia, Afghanistan and Qatar, Sorensen also served in Lithuania for a month-long training exercise. At the end of his 8 years of military service, Sorensen, 26, held the rank of sergeant or rank E-5. Sorensen graduated in May 2022 and will begin residency at St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale, Washington.

He shares how his military training as a Marine translates into becoming a better healthcare provider as a pharmacist.

Why did you want to pursue your PharmD?

Colton Sorensen

I sought to serve others as a health care professional and as a member of a health care team. I wanted to be involved in the decision-making process regarding patient care. I also knew that pharmacy offered a wide variety of career opportunities and that the work-life balance was very reasonable compared to many other healthcare professions.

What did you do during your service and how did it change your perspective?

Throughout my career in the Marine Corps, my primary role has been supply and logistics. I had to do basic training and combat training in San Diego, CA, and training at a refueling school in Jacksonville, NC. I spent a lot of time helping to supply and prepare ammunition for artillery guns, making sure all marines were equipped with the proper military gear, and helping order parts and equipment for our vehicles, artillery guns, radio equipment and armory. I would also help plan ranges, funeral details and events for our unit.

My time in the United States Marine Corps gave me a very solid foundation in small unit leadership, teamwork, communication, decision making, active listening, time management and the accomplishment of missions.

Do you have any advice for military members who are considering pursuing their PharmD?

It is entirely possible to pursue a PharmD while serving in the military. The most important aspects for me were communication and time management. There were several instances where I had conflicts with drill weekends and exams, labs, presentations, simulations, and other assignments. WSU faculty and staff are very understanding and willing to help facilitate accommodations. I was very grateful for their willingness to help me when I received the call to be deployed in the middle of my third year.

What did you enjoy most about your experience at WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences?

I enjoyed my fourth year APPE rotations the most. Rotations were where I found my passions and understood what aspects of pharmacy school I saw myself using the most. For the first 3 years, I really enjoyed the events organized by clubs and organizations on campus. It allowed me to make lots of friends and get to know people in grades above and below me.


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