Jennifer and Nicholas Tomlinson were both emergency medical technicians in Georgia when they decided it was time for a career change. The couple, married since 2015, found that as they worked on ambulances, they saw impacts on patients when they didn’t take their medications.
Studying pharmacy seemed like a natural fit, and they had already followed the same career path for seven years. So, together, they enrolled at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to begin pursuing a new career.
Four years later, the CU Pharmacy students are continuing their tradition of growing their healthcare careers together: Both students earned student leadership roles with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Nicholas is serving as a member of the Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee, and Jennifer is currently the student representative on the Council on Public Policy for the 2019-2020 term.
As part of Nicholas’s role with the organization, he works with other members to represent student pharmacists, helps provide professional development resources and advocates for pharmacy as a profession, according to the organization’s website.
Jennifer, who served on the organization’s Policy and Legislative Advocacy Advisory Group for the Pharmacy Student Forum in 2018, is the student voice of the overall Council on Public Policy, which recommends “professional policies related to laws and regulations that have a bearing on pharmacy practice,” according to the website.
Jennifer said she was motivated to becoming involved with the organization after she saw how it could make an impact on policies for pharmacists, on both a local and national level.
For Nicholas, getting involved in the organization means pushing for the advancement of pharmacy, saying it’s a benefit for pharmacy students to get involved in the profession early.
“It’s good to get involved,” he said. “You’re going to be on the forefront for what we’ll be doing.”
When it came to changing careers, Jennifer said the couple looked at pharmacy as a change of pace from the demands of working on ambulances. Plus, it felt like an opportunity to pursue research within the field.
“After several years, we both decided we wanted to see the other side of health care,” she said. “We were used to seeing patients in their most dire need.”
Jennifer said she was drawn to CU Pharmacy because of the school’s experienced faculty and engagement with policy decisions. Additionally, Nicholas said the school’s strong emphasis on clinical pharmacy was a factor in his decision.
On top of that, there was this: “We wanted a change in scenery,” Nicholas said. “We decided to go where we could go together.”
The next phase of their careers could send the couple in different directions for a while.
Jennifer, who earned a scholarship with the Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP) in the U.S. Air Force and is currently serving as Lieutenant, will eventually oversee pharmacy and biomedical sciences operations on different bases. Once she graduates from CU Pharmacy, she will head to Alabama for officer training. Nicholas said he hopes to pursue a PGY1 residency, and potentially a PGY2 residency in oncology.
That means they might not be in the same place to start their new careers.
“As cool as that would be, I encouraged him to do whatever it takes,” to meet his own career goals, Jennifer said. But after so many years of following the same path, she’s sure about one thing: “We will figure this out.”