Student Focus Winter 2017

FEATURING: PharmD/MBA Students Michael Sporck, Christian Michelet, and Gilbert Ko

By Douglas Esser

University of Washington pharmacy students can accelerate their careers by simultaneously taking MBA classes through the University of Washington Bothell in a unique Seattle-Bothell intercampus degree program.

“We are delighted to have such a pre-eminent partner working with us. This concurrent degree program, weaving pharmacy and MBA coursework, offers a new approach to health care leadership training.  It is my belief that this partnership will have a transformational impact on our community,” said Sandeep Krishnamurthy, dean and professor UW Bothell School of Business.

“We are excited to partner with UW Bothell School of Business in offering the UW PharmD-MBA dual degree program,” said Sean D. Sullivan, professor and dean of UW School of Pharmacy. “Health care is changing every day and we need agile, innovative leaders who are prepared for today and tomorrow.”

The first three students to kick off the program in fall quarter are on their way to earning both PharmD and MBA degrees in just five years. Their pharmacy classes on the Seattle campus are blended with evening MBA classes in the second and third years at UW Bothell’s Eastside Leadership Center in Bellevue. 

Michael Sporck, Christian Michelet and Gilbert Ko are all second-year pharmacy students who already have undergraduate degrees and are working part-time in the field. They’re looking to make changes in the profession or take leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry.                               

Sporck comes from a family of engineers in Silicon Valley and originally started taking classes in bioengineering. The 24-year-old finished with a UW degree in biochemistry and worked a year as a pharmacy technician before applying to pharmacy school. He’s interning with Community Health Plan of Washington in downtown Seattle.

Sporck says the jobs he wants in the health industry are extremely competitive and difficult to enter for someone with a PharmD degree alone. His ideal job would blend clinical knowledge and management skills, says Sporck, who also is president-elect of the UW chapter of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, a professional organization.

Michelet says his interest in pharmacy started because his mother was a pharmacy technician. The 25-year-old from Lakewood, Washington, previously earned UW degrees in chemistry and biochemistry. He’s a pharmacy intern at Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah.

“I feel like pharmacist have a lot of knowledge but I don’t feel they’re utilized as much as they could be,”

Michelet says. “Hopefully I can bring that to my future workplace.”

Ko became interested in pharmacy while working at a Bellevue retirement home during high school and while earning a biochemistry degree at the University of Washington. The 23-year-old from Bellevue is now working at the inpatient pharmacy at Virginia Mason Medical Center in downtown Seattle. 

Ko expects a PharmD-MBA to advance a career in the pharmaceutical industry or in hospital administration.

“I’m pretty ambitious. I do want to rise up," Ko says. “There’s really so many more doors that open.”

The PharmD is a professional degree (like an M.D.) that gives students the scientific background and clinical skills to be a licensed pharmacist.

The University of Washington is ranked second in the world for pharmacy in the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities by the Center for World-Class Universities of Shanghai Jiao University. 

A University of Washington Bothell MBA degree pays off in career advancement and higher earnings. Studies from other schools with a PharmD-MBA programs show graduates earn 25 percent more than graduates with a PharmD degree alone.