In Honor of Our Pharmacist Veterans

red, white and blue bunting to represent the American flag
UConn Photo/Karin Burgess

Veterans Day is a time for our nation to pause and reflect upon the service of our military veterans – those who have honorably served our country in any of the armed forces throughout our Country’s history. This Veterans Day, the School of Pharmacy would like to especially thank and celebrate our graduates who have served in the military, past and present as pharmacists.

Today, we are proud to profile two who are currently serving with distinction. They are Major Sarah Kelly, ’09 (Pharm.D.) BCACP who serves in the United States Air Force, and Lt. Michael Paulin ’18 (Pharm.D.) who serves in the United States Navy. What follows is a Q and A with each of them.

Sarah Kelly in front of a helicopter
Major Sarah Kelly, Pharm.D. stands in front of an Army helicopter. (photo courtesy Sarah Kelly)

Major Sarah Kelly, Pharm.D.

Q. We know you are a Major, what is your official job title?

A. I am Chief, Pharmacy Support, at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi

Q. How long have you served?

A. I have been in the Air Force for 10 years.

Q. Will you describe your work for us?

A. I currently lead pharmacy support functions of two outpatient pharmacies, as well as an inpatient pharmacy, and I serve as the clinical coordinator for four clinical pharmacy functions in our medical center. Specifically, we have clinical pharmacists working in inpatient internal medicine, anticoagulation, medication renewal clinic, and in our patient-centered medical home in both family health and internal medicine outpatient clinics.

We also support a very active readiness platform, and I completed a deployment last April where I served as pharmacy director at Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. It is a trauma hospital but we also serve the health needs of 19 thousand military and civilian personnel working on the base and smaller clinics across Afghanistan

Q. Let’s go back a few years. Can you tell us what elements of your UConn School of Pharmacy education prepared you for your current work as a pharmacist in the military?

A. The numerous professional organizations students can get involved in prepared me the most for leading dynamic teams to achieve accomplishments, sometimes with limited resources. The Urban Service Track prepared me to collaborate with other health professionals to assist under-served populations, and this was helpful in taking care of [my] Afghan patients. I also really benefited from my experience working at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center with Dr. Girotto [Jennifer Girotto ’02 (Pharm.D.) BCPPS, BCIDP, Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice] doing research and working as an intern. We take care of many children stateside and when we are deployed. In short, I encourage everyone to take advantage of all the opportunities offered at UConn. Each experience outside the classroom has given me different perspectives that have helped me later in my career.

Q. What’s your fondest memory from pharmacy school?

A. Getting together for coffee and studying with friends. Just knowing we are all in it together. After we learned so much, it’s cool to see how well everyone is doing.

Lt. Michael Paulin, Pharm.D.

Lt Michael Paulin
Lt. Michael Paulin, Pharm.D. U.S. Navy (photo courtesy of Michael Paulin)

Q. You are a Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps of the United States Navy. What is your official title?

A. I am the Inpatient Pharmacist at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth – Portsmouth, Virginia, and Pharmacy Department Head – USNS COMFORT (T-AH-20)

Q. How long have you served?

A. I was accepted into the Navy’s Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP) in August of 2016 and I was commissioned in May of 2018.

Q. Will you describe your work for us?

A.  At NCMP, I primarily work in the inpatient pharmacy, supporting the care of patients in a variety of settings, from adult critical care to neonatal intensive care units. As an inpatient pharmacist, my duties range from order verification to overseeing the preparation of sterile products, including TPNs [fluid solutions] and chemotherapeutics for patients at the medical center.

On the USNS COMFORT, I am currently deployed as part of Comfort Deployment 2019, a  more than five-month long medical mission across 12 countries in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. As department head, I am overseeing the pharmacy services at medical engagement sites ashore in each country, as well as the pharmacy support of pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative care aboard ship.

Q. As a fairly recent graduate, can you describe how your pharmacy education prepared you for your current work as a pharmacist in the military?

A. I truly believe that the pharmacy education I received at UConn was second to none! In the military, like any other job, you have additional roles and responsibilities beyond being a pharmacist. While I was trying to find my footing in the military, one thing I was thankful for was the foundation pharmacy knowledge that I had which allowed me to feel more comfortable in my primary duties as a Navy pharmacist.

Also, the LEADERS Track was a unique program that I was able to take part in and [it was] a great way to learn about leaders, leadership, and even test out some leadership styles. Even though the Navy brought me in to be a pharmacist, first and foremost I am an officer. With that position, there come responsibilities beyond the practice of pharmacy. The LEADERS Track helped me identify and develop my personal leadership style before I even put on the uniform.

Q. You have been busy since you graduated in 2018. Now think back and tell us your fondest memory from the UConn School of Pharmacy.

A. Pharmacy School is tough, and there were certainly some trying times, but one thing I will always be thankful for is the friends I made at UConn.

Thank you for your service Sarah, Michael, and all of our other Pharm.D.’s working in the military!