When Kevin Nelson was a student at Purdue University North Central, he had his sights on set on becoming a pharmacist.
At PNC, he was a biology major with a near-perfect grade point average. His academic record and an impressive array of personal accomplishments earned him admission into the competitive Purdue School of Pharmacy. Nelson, a Michigan City native, earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May, 2012. Also earning Doctor of Pharmacy degrees at the same time were his former PNC classmates James Jaros, of Valparaiso; Kelly Kilgore, of Michigan City and Krista Bailey, of Frankfurt.
Nelson, Jaros and Kilgore went through their PNC and Purdue classes together, In fact, Nelson and Kilgore have known each other since kindergarten and first grade.
One of Nelson’s final learning experiences prior to his graduation was a trip to Kenya to take part in the Indiana-Kenya Partnership with the Moi University School of Medicine. This partnership brings together students from the Purdue School of Pharmacy and the Indiana University School of Medicine who travel to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital to serve Kenyans in need.
Interestingly, Nelson and his group arrived in Kenya as Bailey and her group were departing.
Nelson explained that the hospital is located in Western Kenya and serves a vast population. Three additional satellite facilities bring much-needed health to people in the more remote areas. The students see the gamut of medical cases – HIV and AIDs, malaria, tuberculosis, infectious illness, along with other diseases, sickness and injury.
The hospital also has relationships with Brown University and George Washington University.
The medical teams of Americans and Kenyans who will share their knowledge and experience as they examine, diagnose and treat patients.
“This will definitely helps refine your problem-solving skills,” said Nelson. “Some meds that are common here are not available there, so we have to work with what’s available. It is essential that we have the knowledge and ability to treat the patients.”
Nelson’s education gave plenty of hands-on experience to prepare him as a pharmacist. All pharmacy students are required spend 10 months in the field, working rotations at various sites that expose them the many career opportunities available to pharmacists.
For example, his rotations in hospital pharmacies placed him for a time as part of a hospital adult medicine team. In a commercial pharmacy, he spent one rotation in the pharmacy itself and another in the pharmacy administration.
All the while, he worked in the Kmart pharmacy in Valparaiso during his summer and semester breaks.
Nelson appreciates the trend for pharmacists to have more personal interaction with their patients.
“I enjoy community pharmacy, it gives the pharmacist an opportunity to build relationships with people” he explained. “I like to the one-on-one interaction with patients to discuss their symptoms and course of treatment.”
As he looked back on his education, Nelson thanked his Purdue North Central professors with providing him with a solid foundation for what was to come in pharmacy school.
“I got a lot of one-on-one attention that served me well,” he said. “My professors answered my questions and made sure that I understood the materials. I was ready for what was to come.”
Once in the School of Pharmacy, Nelson found that students in his class were closer than most and the 156 students enrolled they got to know one another as friends. And it helped that the PNC students had already cemented their relationships. Childhood friends Nelson and Kilgore studied together in West Lafayette and supported one another through their rigorous years of study.
“I spent six years working toward becoming a pharmacist, I put a lot of hard work into my education, but it was worth it. Being a pharmacist is a great career.”