URI student takes unconventional route to pharmacy career

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Pittsford, Vt., resident to graduate May 20

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 10, 2007 — After commencement at the University of Rhode Island, many pharmacy graduates will go on to work for corporations like Walgreens, CVS, and Brooks. The soft-spoken Kate Maxfield, however, will be entering Navy training at the Officer Indoctrination School in Newport.

Maxfield, a 23-year-old pharmacy major from Pittsford, Vt., is not ready to head back north just yet, and would rather travel the world. The Navy was the perfect opportunity, and her first duty station will be in Bethesda, Md.

Maxfield transferred to URI after two years at St. Michael’s College in her home state.

“I liked how URI set up its Pharmacy program,” Maxfield said. “It’s hard to explain unless you’re a pharmacy major, but the classes are set up differently. Each class is organized around disease states and you learn everything about that disease state all at once.”

During her first few years at the University, Maxfield said she worked extensively. She has worked at CVS in Coventry since she first moved to Rhode Island, and still works there every other weekend on top of her required pharmacy school rotations.

URI requires six, five-week clinical pharmacy rotations in the senior year. Maxfield has completed rotations in Massachusetts, Providence and on the Kingston campus, but decided to complete two with the Naval Ambulatory Care Center in Newport.

“I wanted to make sure I made the right choice, even though I had already made the decision,” Maxfield said. “I ended up really liking it. They have a family-like atmosphere, more than other jobs.”

After she enlisted in March 2006, the Navy reimbursed Maxfield so she could finish her last year of school. In addition to keeping up with her studies, she was required by the Navy to pass bi-annual physical fitness tests and attend monthly meetings.

Balancing her intense course load, heavy workload, and her time with the Navy, Maxfield maintained a 3.7 grade point average and is a Dean’s List student. She has also been a member of Rho Chi, the pharmacy honor society, for two years.

Maxfield advises students entering the program to study hard and get early experience. The program requires 60 hours per semester of experience, but Maxfield said it’s best to go beyond that.

“You also have to like to work with people,” Maxfield said. “Some of the students are really smart, but relaying the information to patients is difficult. You have to be a people person.”

Not eager to return to the cold anytime soon, Maxfield added that “Rhode Island is a lot warmer than Vermont, and it has beaches.” The fair-skinned red-haired student joked, “I love the sun, but the sun doesn’t love me.”

After her summer training, she plans to complete her first three-year active contract with the Navy. The Navy requires another four years of reserve service, but Maxfield said she might sign up for three more years of active duty. “If I like it, I might stay for 20 years, retire and get my benefits,” Maxfield explained.

As long as there is patient interaction, it seems Maxfield will stick around. “I’m more into hands-on health care,” Maxfield said. “I’m into the patients rather than the research. Someone else can make the drugs.”