Only seven percent make the cut, Fairchild Airman accepted to Doctor of Pharmacy Program

  • Published
  • By Scott King
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Airman 1st Class Bart Hardwell never imagined it could happen, but through hard work, perseverance, and support from his peers and leadership - it did.

He was one of 249 selected out of 1,200 applicants to attend the Fall 2011, Doctor of Pharmacy Program at the University of Southern Nevada College of Pharmacy campus in South Jordan, Utah.

Airman Hardwell, a public health technician with the 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron here, says his interest in being a pharmacist started early.

"As a young man growing up in rural Louisiana, I would stand in awe as the pharmacist at the local drugstore painstakingly explained to my grandmother how to properly take her medications," Airman Hardwell explained. "His knowledge and empathy, as well as my grandmother's gratitude, warmed my heart. This exposure to the profession at an early age planted a desire to pursue this career path that has never waned for me over the years."

He is receiving early separation for medical education from the Air Force because he has been accepted into a Doctor (Pharmacy) Program. Starting out for his first year at USNCOP, he will be living off his Montgomery G.I. Bill and personal loans (if needed).
During his first year, he will be eligible to apply for the Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program where his full tuition would be paid, including reimbursement for textbooks, small items and supplies needed for study. He would also receive about $1,100 per-month for living expenses. While on scholarship, he would spend 45 days each year on Air Force active duty and receive second lieutenant pay and allowances. Following his three-year, accelerated schooling, he would be obligated to serve three years on active duty as a captain.

"My choice to pursue pharmacy was an easy decision for me," Airman Hardwell said. "I am attracted to a career in pharmacy because my personality and passion regarding patient education will provide me with the opportunity to positively impact patient care and satisfaction by decreasing adverse reactions and harmful drug interactions to people. Air Force Bases and local communities entrust a great deal of faith and confidence in the competency of a pharmacist, and I will strive to maintain and deepen that level of trust."

By far, being accepted into this school has not been an easy undertaking for Airman Hardwell.

He had to maintain a very high GPA for his more than 60 semester hours of schooling in courses like General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Calculus, Microbiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology to name a few. Then he had to pass a Pharmacy College Admission Test (an equivalent to a Medical College Admission Test). In addition to that, he had to get numerous recommendation letters from his leadership and answer a battery of admission questions.

His supervisor is proud of his soon-to-be-missing troop, but is confident it is the right choice for Airman Hardwell and the Air Force.

"We are going to miss him as an office," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Watts, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Force Health Management NCO in charge. "But, we're pretty sure he'll come back to the Air Force in the Pharmaceutical field as an officer and continue his great work."

Airman Hardwell was surprised when he found out he was accepted and appreciative of all the support he received.

"I thought there were more qualified people than me," he said. "I think that maybe the fact that I was also serving my county while going to school helped me out. My leadership from my supervisor on up has supported me 100 percent - without their support and mentorship, I may have been in a different boat."
92nd Medical Group leadership is happy he got accepted, but sad to lose a valuable asset.

"I can always count on Airman Hardwell to get the job done - he is truly '"fire and forget,"' said Lt. Col. Walter 'SPARKY' Matthews, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander. "When I found out Bart was applying for Pharmacy School, I started planning for his departure, because I never doubted that he would succeed. The day he appeared in my office doorway to breathlessly tell me he had been accepted, was obviously one of the proudest days of his life - I am so incredibly proud of him, and I look forward to his return to us as an officer; and who knows, maybe someday, Capt. Hardwell will fill one of my prescriptions."

The Medical Group commander mirrors what Colonel Matthews thinks of Airman Hardwell.

"Airman Hardwell is a great example of our Fairchild Medics - a young man that has always worked hard, but never rests on his laurels," said Col. Thomas Roshetko, 92nd Medical Group commander. "I look forward to the day that Dr. Hardwell returns to the Air Force Medical Service as a Doctor of Pharmacy."