Heather Thomson

Name: Heather Thomson, MBA, MS-PREP
Year of Graduation: 2007

Describe the impact in your life, professionally or personally, after receiving the Masters in Pain Research, Education and Policy (PREP)?
While I have been working on the industry side in pain management for years, the addition of the degree specifically in the field gave me the credentials to be taken more seriously when I am making a point or defending a position. In addition, I acquired the theoretical frameworks on which to hang my experience, and was exposed to additional areas I never knew existed or had never gotten to explore. This has made me much more effective in my work, both in the quality of what I produce and my ability to evaluate the work of others.

Did your choosing Tufts require a move to Boston?
No, but I drove a really long way each way to get to class.

Did you come to one of the PREP programs right out of an undergraduate setting or a work setting or some other path?
I'd already been working for pharmaceutical companies with analgesic products for well over twenty years before I started this program. I wanted to get really good at what I was doing, and this was the only training available at the level I was seeking.

What factors did you consider in deciding whether to do PREP as a full time approach or a part-time approach?
I think I set a new record for Tufts for how long it could take to finish a master's degree. I had entire semesters where I couldn't take anything because I was traveling so extensively on business. However, since I have never suffered from the need to keep a perfect house, make wonderful dinners every night or otherwise be a good wife or mother, finding the time wasn't that difficult. Also, our kid stopped complaining about his homework once he saw mine.

How feasible did your approach to the program turn out to be?
I had a really great experience in the Tufts MS-PREP program, mostly because everyone associated with it really wanted me to succeed. The administrative staff should have been cringing when I showed up, but just smiled while they sorted me out.

Is there any additional information that you would like to share with prospective students?
I really pushed myself in this program, and I think my brain had to activate some previously unused gray cells and put them to work. I don't think they ever really shut back down once I graduated. I'm much more likely to take on what looks like difficult material now and am a more critical thinker.