Priests in Roman Collars, Doctors and Nurses in white uniforms, Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Soldiers in clothes smudged with sweat and dirt… We have a haze of illusion toward people in special uniforms. That illusion could be a yearning toward a path that we have not walked, but also could be the result of a mysterious aura naturally endowed with the wearing of that particular uniform. There is a recent increase in interest in joining the US army because of the citizenship they could obtain, and also other incentives. We met with Major Jin Kim(30), who is currently working as the Pharmacy Director of Operations at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.[Editor]
What do you do in the army and your current place of duty?
I am currently the Pharmacy Director of Operations at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
When did you join the army? Are there any specific reasons for you to enter the army? Are there age restrictions for entering the army or any other additional requirements like certain level of academic degrees, certificates and such?
I joined the United States Air Force (USAF) in 2010. Initially, one of my reasons for joining the USAF was the scholarships being offered at the time, which assisted me in paying off the last two years of pharmacy school. The requirements vary between enlisted and officers, but for healthcare officers, you must be between 18 and 48 years of age (varies among fields), must be a U.S. citizen, have a career-relevant degree or postgraduate degree, and be licensed and eligible to practice in your field (according to the USAF website).
If you join the army after you receive Masters or Ph.D., are there any other incentives to that? Depending on the type of degree, you will be able to join the USAF with a higher rank. For example, if you have a doctorate degree, you will have the opportunity to be directly commissioned as a Captain.
Reportedly, you are also a pharmacist. Can you tell us the procedures that one should undergo in order to become a pharmacist in the United States?
To become a pharmacist, you must obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from an ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) accredited pharmacy school. You will need to take the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) and take the MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam) for most states. Some states require their own respective law exams.
I imagine it is not really common for a pharmacist to join the army. Do you play any special roles as a pharmacist in the army?
Once you join the USAF, you are an officer before a pharmacist. As an officer, I am expected to lead while performing the duties of a pharmacist. It is more than being a pharmacy manager at a retail pharmacy store; it is everything, from procuring the most cost effective medications to training Airmen to prepare to deploy anywhere in the world.
If you would recommend younger generations to serve in the army as professional soldiers, what would be the most crucial thing to keep in mind before joining the army?
When I joined, I knew that I won’t have a lax schedule. I do not leave my office unless the mission is taken care of. My typical work hours are 10+ hours, but at the end of the day, the sense of accomplishment cannot be described in words. Anyone looking for a challenge and is able to perform at the highest level of caliber should definitely consider joining the USAF.
When do you plan to retire? For how long military officers/serviceperson serve in the army in most cases? Are there any objectives/goals that you want to accomplish during your terms of service?
I plan to retire after serving at least 20 years. I cannot speak on behalf of the majority of the members in the military, but I can say that it is not for everybody. Many of those I know personally have retired after serving 20 plus years, and there are also many who separated after serving several years. My goal is to make the pharmacy community in the USAF better, so we can improve the lives of the men and women who serves and has served.
Any other last remarks that you would like to add?
I would like to encourage all students to never stop learning, and enjoy every moment in school while you can!
Sumin Yoo/University of Pennsylvania,
International exchange student