Student Perspective: Pursuing a PharmD and Engineering Technology Management Degree

Meet Vixen Cope, a first-generation college student from Coffman Cove, Alaska, and Longview, Washington. After completing a degree in chemistry at Western Washington University, Vixen decided to pursue a career in pharmacy driven by her passion to help others live healthier lives. Vixen ultimately chose Washington State University for her PharmD because of its interdisciplinary approach ingrained in the campus and program. Hear her perspective on doing dual degrees in Engineering Technology Management and Doctor of Pharmacy.

Why did you choose pharmacy as a career?

I chose pharmacy as a career path because my rural upbringing brought unique challenges to my mom’s medical needs. After my family moved back to urban Washington, we were grateful to learn the value of health care access and how pharmacists are vital to patient safety, medication understanding, and treatment success. I wanted to help others in a way that merged my interests in science with my compassion to help others. Becoming a pharmacist will allow me to continue reciprocating the kindness and care that has been given to my family and inspire non-traditional students to pursue pharmacy. 

What are some highlights of pursuing a dual degree in Engineering and Technology Management?

Throughout my educational journey, I’ve always enjoyed leadership and remained heavily involved in extracurriculars. I enjoy learning about a team’s unique dynamics and its system’s operations, then analyzing them for attainable improvements. I wanted to continue these interests by integrating them into my pharmacy career. The ETM focuses on a variety of strategies to improve a system through statistics, management, and analysis strategies to make recommendations that are individualized to the situation, team, and environment. There are many settings that pharmacy is involved in and I will be able to adapt and apply my ETM knowledge to provide system improvements and enhance synergy to improve pharmacy and better serve our patients.

Can you tell us about the Engineering and Technology Management experience?

My experience with the program was very involved and utilized active learning to make every lecture more personalized to the students’ interests. Since the ETM students all had a variety of career goals and backgrounds, we all learned from each other, and the professors were able to adapt lectures and projects to benefit everyone’s interests. The many team projects and tools kept me engaged with the material and how to actively apply them in a team setting with goals, which built hard and soft skills that I can utilize in the real world. Some of the most interesting topics I learned were about constraint analysis, innovation management, lean management and Kaizen methods.

What’s your advice to aspiring pharmacy students?

I would recommend reaching out to the ETM advisors as soon as possible to begin asking questions and inquiring about the program. Being able to start the dual degree during my first year in the PharmD program helped me plan and distribute the ETM courses in a way that would minimize its interference with the rigor of the PharmD courses.