Pharm.D. student builds business skills through MBA program
Since middle school, Christian Williams knew she wanted to be a pharmacist. But this August, she’s graduating with an MBA as well as her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), thanks to KU’s MBA/Pharm.D. program, a collaboration between the Schools of Business and Pharmacy.
“Knowing that I wanted to go into independent pharmacy, and I would love to own a pharmacy someday, I felt like an MBA was a great way for me to expand on my knowledge and get some higher-level ideas and thinking going for when that maybe comes to fruition,” she explained.
Although Williams minored in business while earning her undergraduate degree at KU, she didn’t consider an MBA until her advisor, School of Pharmacy associate professor Brian Barnes, told her about the joint degree program. Earning the MBA only takes an additional 3 months for Pharm.D. students but instills valuable management and business skills.
Students enter the program during their sixth year of pharmacy school, and Williams admits switching to the MBA program was initially a challenge — she hadn’t written a paper in 4 years and was deeply focused on her pharmacy studies. But after taking some time to adjust, she came to appreciate the programs’ differences.
“I’ve really enjoyed expanding on my knowledge, stretching the muscles of my brain that maybe I’m not using in pharmacy,” Williams said, adding, “I have really, really enjoyed the interprofessional connections the MBA has brought me, too.”
The other students in her cohort all have different educational and professional backgrounds, which are especially valuable in discussion-based classes like assistant professor Patricia Dahm’s Managing People course.
“It’s been really cool, with those different backgrounds that we all have, to bounce ideas off of each other and recognize that what I think is the best option or what is glaringly the problem here is maybe not the case,” Williams explained. “It kind of opened my eyes and made me think a little bit outside of my blinders, and I think that that will really help me going forward.”
After graduating this summer, Williams will start her career at Rockers Pharmacy in Paola, Kansas, where she’s excited to serve people in a small community, similar to where she grew up in Gridley.
“I’m coming on as a junior partner, so with time I’ll help grow the business and also be able to grow my involvement in the community,” Williams said. “That’s really exciting for me, and it wraps everything together.”