Pharmacist—changing lives one medication at a time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shandresha Mitchell
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
"As a child I had dreams that I would either be a veterinarian or a professional basketball player," commented Capt. Thomas Waters, 6th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist. "Needless to say, I grew older...and as far as being a professional athlete, let's just say I don't believe I came from the right gene pool."

Shortly after Waters graduated from college, he began working as a cashier in a pharmacy. He said he enjoyed the feeling of being able to help others and see their satisfaction even in such a limited capacity.

He always had a relatively strong interest in science and learning about the way in which different medications worked inside the body.

For most individuals, it takes approximately six years to receive a degree in pharmacy, two years of pre-requisites and four years of pharmacy school; however, the profession is currently moving towards requiring a four-year undergraduate degree in addition to four years of pharmacy school.

"Since the tuition from the private university I was attending was rather expensive, I felt that joining the Air Force would give me the opportunity to see a completely different side of pharmacy and provide me a good start to my pharmacy career," commented Waters. "I was accepted into the Health Professions Scholarship Program, in which the Air Force would pay for my final two years of tuition in exchange for three years of active duty service."

Waters added that his brother and uncle had both served in the Air Force and had only good things to say about their experiences as Airmen.

Waters has currently been in the Air Force for almost four years, serving at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida for just over two years.

His primary daily objectives are to ensure the health and wellness of not only all active duty members at MacDill, including the 6th Air Mobility Wing, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command members, but also military retirees and dependents.

Waters' daily tasks include processing prescription information, verifying and dispensing prescriptions, serving as a liaison between patients and providers and also providing medication consultations to any patients who may have questions.

"The highlight of my day is knowing, even if on the smallest level, I am making a difference in someone's life," said Waters. "I feel great satisfaction in helping our active duty military members restore their health, so they can get back to fulfilling their mission as quickly as possible."

Waters commented that his motivation to continue practicing pharmacy comes from the ability to positively impact others and being able to directly see the impact he's having on their lives.

"I have always found myself willing to contribute to the good of others and I think this profession affords me that opportunity on a daily basis," stated Waters. "Whether it is assisting a retiree in better understanding his or her medication or providing a sick child with a much needed antibiotic, I truly enjoy having a positive impact on people's lives."