The following is an interview from when Heather was a student at Midwestern University's College of Pharmacy-Glendale.
For many health professions students, deciding on a specific career path can be difficult. For Heather Thoreson, the decision was easy, after she spent time getting to know herself.
As a kinesiology and physics major at Colorado University, Heather completed internships in both respiratory therapy and physical therapy. After graduation, she started work in a hospital as a telemetry technician, but realized the hospital environment wasn't for her. When a friend suggested she try pharmacy, she did-and loved it. Soon, she was working as a pharmacy tech at Walgreen's, which she did for five years before applying to MWU. She especially loved the compounding, the variety, the excitement, and the new avenue in which she could work with people.
"The more I'm in class, the more I'm open to lots of new areas," says Heather. "I'm thinking I might do less retail when I graduate and more specialization. That's what I like most about pharmacy school: finding out the possibilities. I always thought I would do hospital or retail work, but we've learned about so many other options . . . in school, you hear about lots of things that sound interesting, like nuclear pharmacy."
I really like MWU's open-door policy. Our deans and the faculty are so open, welcoming and friendly."
— Heather Thoreson, Pharm.D., CPG Class of 2012
Before entering the College of Pharmacy-Glendale, Heather spent a year doing research in MWU's Master of Biomedical Sciences program, where she reviewed microbiology, immunology, physiology, and other basic sciences. She also learned how to study, how to best utilize the faculty members, and how to manage her course load. "I really got to know the faculty," she says, "and it especially helped me to prioritize my studies. Now I can manage my classes and even watch football sometimes!" she laughs.
"I really like MWU's open-door policy," she adds. "Our deans and the faculty are so open, welcoming and friendly."
With three half sisters, a half-brother, and thirteen cousins, Heather is used to a friendly family environment, with a focus on health care. One sister is a nurse, the other in nursing school. An uncle works in the dental field. Many of them were in town for her graduation when she was accepted into the pharmacy program, so they were able to stay and celebrate her first days of pharmacy school. "They had to entertain themselves, but I was so happy about getting into pharmacy school, it didn't matter," remembers Heather fondly. "I still try to make it home (to Walsenburg, CO, just over the New Mexico border) every month," she adds.
During her time in the M.B.S. program, Heather enjoyed her research on herbal medicines. She worked with Pedro Chavez, Ph.D., Professor, Biomedical Sciences; Carleton Buck Jones, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences; and Kathryn Leyva, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, to study the cytotoxicity of specific drugs that could potentially treat diabetes. "It was kind of challenging," she says, "because there's not a lot of scientific research done yet on many herbals. But a lot of communities use these products."
As a pharmacy student, Heather hopes she can still focus her research on diabetes and the field of pharmacy. She serves as the Arizona Society of Health Systems Pharmacists diabetes chair, and has participated in the American Diabetes Association Walk to Fight Diabetes on campus as well as the Tour de Cure fundraising bicycle ride.
She also hopes to spend some time on another interest garnered at Colorado University: snowboarding. An avid skier and outdoor enthusiast, Heather plans to visit Flagstaff during her time at MWU, as well as re-visit the Grand Canyon for the first time since she was a child. "I miss the snow in Colorado," she laughs, "but I bought a bike and hope to get into biking here. I also like walking north up 59th Avenue by Pinnacle Peak, and I hope to climb Camelback Mountain soon."
With her proven determination to find her own way, scaling Camelback Mountain should be no problem. And patients of the future Dr. Crump are sure to benefit from her decision to choose the path of pharmacy.
Heather Thoreson, Pharm.D., is a 2012 graduate of the College of Pharmacy-Glendale, located on the Glendale Campus of Midwestern University.