By Patricia Deal
Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center public affairs
Lt. Col. Gwendolyn Thompson, chief of the pharmacy department at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, was selected as one of three finalists for the 2011 Next Generation Pharmacist Awards' Military Pharmacist of the Year.
The awards program, sponsored by Pharmacy Times magazine and Parata Systems, is open to licensed pharmacists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians practicing in all environments, including chain, community, hospital outpatient and government settings. About 350 nominees from across the country competed in 11 distinct categories.
"This was the first year for the separate military pharmacist category," Thompson said. "While we could apply in many of the other categories, military pharmacists lobbied for a 'military only' category, as we do have responsibilities and tasks that are unique just to a military environment."
While her civilian counterparts might not be as familiar with the special demands and challenges of being a military pharmacist, Thompson has spent more than 20 years as an Army pharmacist. She served as an enlisted pharmacy technician, which included a tour at Fort Hood, before going to school to become a pharmacist.
"I've always liked the idea of being able to help people," she said. "Everyone is familiar with medications as they've either had to take something themselves at some point in their life, or know someone who has. The idea of how the various types of medicines helped to treat different medical conditions just kind of appealed to me."
She was awarded for the proficiency designator by the Army for her acumen as a clinical pharmacist and was also awarded a designator as a strategist.
She's accomplished many "firsts" in her field, such as having started the first pharmacist-run clinic in disease state management for asthma, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, tobacco cessation and anticoagulation at Darnall.
While she's accomplished much in the career field, her most meaningful experience was her deployment to Iraq at the Army's largest combat hospital.
"It was a really rewarding (and emotional) time to be right there on the front lines," she said.
Thompson will join other finalists at the second annual awards ceremony on Aug. 29 in Boston, where the winner in each category will be announced.