Will Thompson, a WSU senior, knows that you don’t have to be diagnosing illnesses, performing surgery or inserting IVs to help people. Sometimes all it takes is a passion for others and a drive to succeed through hard work.

When people think “healthcare” immediately jobs like doctor and nurse come to mind. But there are so many other positions that support the company like human resources, marketing and sales. These teams all work together to provide people with the care they need–even if it isn’t one-on-one with a patient.

“At first I wanted to go into some sort of healthcare field, but I just didn’t find passion in that. My motivation is now to go into some sort of medical device sales for cancer patients,” Will said.

So how does a Business Administration major navigate their way through a career in the healthcare system to help patients get healthier?

Although the connection may not be obvious, Will’s backstory helps connect the dots.

Connecting the Dots

When Will was four years old, he was diagnosed with childhood acute lymphoblastic (ALL) leukemia. While in the hospital, he saw the effects that cancer treatment has on people. Yes, treatment helps patients get better but the process can be long and painful.

For one of his treatments, doctors placed a port in Will’s chest to quickly disperse cancer-fighting medicine throughout his body. Will plans on using his degree to get medical devices, like his port, to the people that need them to overcome their illnesses.

Will said, “I was lucky because they caught it really early on.” He was declared cancer-free at age eight.

Even though his battle happened so long ago, the experience has motivated him to improve the world by touching lives affected by similar hardships.

Friendships, Role Models and Support

Having leukemia led Will to meet some people who greatly influenced his life and continue to do so.

One example was a boy on his hometown football team who also beat cancer a few years earlier. Will hung out with him at “Make-A-Wish” events, enthralled by the chance to be around the football star. Will looked up to him as a role model of courage and strength as he fought through his own battle with cancer.

The second person was a childhood friend who had the exact same kind of leukemia and battled alongside Will in the hospital for four years. They shared an incredible bond, so when she passed away eight months after Will was declared cancer-free, Will felt her loss deeply. Their families are still close to this day and spend time together.

“Even if you’re at that crummy spot in your life where you don’t see a whole lot of hope, having people speak to you and talk to you about their experiences helps a lot,” Will said.

These people inspired him to strive towards his career choice. From role models to old friends, they have all shaped and influenced his passion of supporting those experiencing hardships, illnesses or loss.

WSU has His Back

WSU has also been a strong motivator and support system for his future career. His close relationship with the Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Hamid Akbari, is what kept Will going when school got difficult. Dr. Akbari encouraged him to work hard and achieve his goals. Because of this support, Will has become heavily involved in the WSU Sales Team, AMA and the John Latsch Leadership Academy to develop skills he will later use in consultative sales.

Inspired to Inspire Others

Will is motivated to help people and inspire others the way he was. For Will, it’s not the most important thing to directly treat the patients because he knows the products he will sell can help save a life. After all, he has been on the other end of the medical devices like those he will be selling in his career.

“Just being around kids who are currently going through this stuff, I can see the processes they use and the devices are getting better and better,” he said about professionals in the industry.

More Than a Major

Will’s major means more to him than just finding any entry-level business degree. He plans to bring a personal level of care and understanding to the medical device sales world.

Although some sales people can come across pushy, cold and uninformed about the challenges patients face, Will is quite the opposite.

Due to his personal experience, he understands how important it is to use the correct device for medical treatments and can educate buyers to make the best choices.

His degree is more than just a major, it is his way to bring better healthcare technology to the doctors and patients who need it.

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Samantha Johnson

Samantha graduated in 2019 with a BA in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. She is from Rogers, MN and her hobbies include camping, hiking, reading, listening to music and hanging out with friends.

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