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Twin pharmacists inspired to serve others

May 11, 2018

Michaela and Milana VachuskaMichaela and Milana Vachuska
PharmD| Roseville

As twin sisters and graduates of Pacific's doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program, Michaela '18 and Milana '18 Vachuska will add one more shared experience to their long list of milestones. From their first birthdays to bachelor of science degrees from University of California, Santa Barbara to PharmD degrees from Pacific.

In early childhood, both Vachuska sisters were diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. Rather than defining them, this challenge has strengthened their resolve to be confident people who are passionate about serving others.

Prior to coming to Pacific, the Vachuskas volunteered with Volunteers of America to help victims of elder abuse. They helped patients stick to their medication regiment. Shadowing a close family friend gave them additional exposure to the pharmacy profession. The combination of these experiences inspired them to choose pharmacy.

The Vachuskas appreciate that Pacific values the importance of student success and individuality.

"I always felt like I could approach my professors with any concerns I had," said Milana. "The faculty truly have the students' best interest in mind and they take the time to get to know each of us as individuals."

They also attribute their success to the accelerated program and structured curriculum.

"The fact that Pacific is an accelerated program has helped me grapple with the reality that 'summer break' doesn't exist in the real world," Milana said. "This structure requires good time management and grit, both of which are invaluable on (clinical pharmacy) rotations and beyond."

By pursuing a variety of student leadership positions and community outreach opportunities, including being involved in Medicare Part D Mobile Clinics, the twins were able to solidify their career paths. Michaela was matched with a post-graduate year-one residency at the Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in San Diego. She also plans to pursue a post-graduate year-two residency in pharmacy psychiatry next year.

Milana was matched with a residency at University of California, San Diego, Health. Her long-term career goal is to become a clinical pharmacist with a specialty in managing chronic diseases.

The Vachuskas' experiences as teaching assistants and preceptors also sparked their interest to remain involved in academia.

"I'm really passionate about teaching and I think it would be amazing to precept future pharmacy students," Milana said.

Milana believes that communication and advocacy are instrumental in improving health care outcomes in the community. Ultimately, as pharmacists they are committed to making positive changes in patient care and contributing to the advancement of pharmacy.

"Pharmacists have a unique opportunity to reform health care by maximizing accessibility for patients — that is my purpose," Michaela said.

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