First-year student pharmacist Chase King, age 21, is one of five students in the inaugural class in the rural health track. The track is part of the college’s Rural Health Initiative to recruit, educate, and embed pharmacists in rural communities across Washington state.

I believe that pharmacists can bring about the change needed to bridge the rural health care gap. Many rural residents struggle with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, addiction, obesity, and a myriad of heart conditions, but have little to no access to health care facilities. As a future pharmacist, I hope to provide care in isolated towns, traveling door-to-door, counseling patients, delivering medicine, and helping with any other medical conditions. Dr. Julie Akers’ introduction to health care systems course taught me a lot about the gaps in health care in these rural settings and inspired me to pursue this field.

Chase King, age 21, finished his pre-requisites for pharmacy school in two years at the WSU Pullman campus.

My interest in rural health started during my undergraduate years in Pullman. I grew up on the west side of Washington state in Normandy Park, a high-end suburb of Seattle overlooking the Puget Sound. Residents in Normandy Park are just about the healthiest people that I know. The rural areas surrounding Pullman are a stark contrast to where I grew up. On my many drives to Pullman, passing through all the farmland and wheat fields, I realized that rural residents have nowhere to go in the event of a medical emergency. During my time in Pullman and in my first year of pharmacy school in Spokane, I learned that the lack of resources and attention were in communities far outside metropolitan areas. It’s not only acute care that’s lacking but also attention to the rampant spread of chronic illness, which kill people slowly.

In high school, I often volunteered in rural areas and witnessed firsthand the struggles that plague this population. Not only do rural residents face challenges in access to health care, but also job opportunities, cell phone coverage, grocery stores, and many other resources. Satellite pharmacy fits the description of everything I want in a career: patient centered care; ability to travel to patients; and making an impact where it is needed the most.

I always enjoyed chemistry and biology classes in high school and had a special interest in pharmacy and medicine as a possible career. I finished my pre-requisites for pharmacy school in two years so that I could begin pursuing my Doctor of Pharmacy degree. I didn’t want to just go into an industry and make money. Instead, I hope that my knowledge can make a true impact in communities and peoples’ lives.

I hope that the rural health track will give me the skills and understanding to better serve rural residents. Upon my graduation, I hope to move to a rural area to work with this underserved population. In 10 years, I hope to establish myself in a rural community caring for a myriad of patients who I have known for years.