Are you a pharmacy technician student wondering where your clinical practice kits come from? Or a prospective student wondering how you will do clinicals at home? Take a look as the team here at WVJC banded alongside Pharmacy Technician Program Director, Jamie McGuire to create these kits that are sent right to your home!
When students are enrolled in the Pharmacy Technician program at West Virginia Junior College, they are able to learn about all aspects of being a pharmacy technician. While enrolled in the program, students participate in hands-on training of skills in both retail and clinical settings.
In retail pharmacy, a pharmacy technician inputs new prescriptions into pharmacy software, works with insurance claims, pulls medications to be counted, counts and labels medications for orders, answer phone calls, and interacts with customers on a daily basis. WVJC has a pharmacy software program in which students are able to practice these skills! WVJC also has a pharmacy lab room which is set up as half a retail pharmacy and half a clinical pharmacy. Students have the opportunity to physically count tablets and package them for sale, just like they would in an actual retail pharmacy setting.
Clinical pharmacy is a sector of pharmacy that a lot of students do not think about. Clinical pharmacy can include compounding IV bags, making capsules, mixing ointments, and reconstituting medications. A unique feature of WVJC is that our pharmacy labs have flow hoods. This is the area where IV medications, including chemotherapy drugs, are mixed. During lab courses, students mix medications in the flow hoods.
WVJC’s Pharmacy Technician program is not only unique because of the hands-on training students experience, but also because the program is recognized by the PTCB. The PTCB is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. They regulate and administer certifications to pharmacy technicians. Upon completion of the program at WVJC, students sit for this certification exam. Having this certification is very appealing to employers, as is proves to them that you have the skills necessary to perform your job.
Pharmacy technicians have several options when it comes to career choices. There are retail pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart, and there are also independent pharmacies. On the clinical side of pharmacy, there are inpatient pharmacies in hospitals and nursing homes. Technicians are even needed in correctional facilities and mental health clinics. The possibilities for pharmacy technicians is ever-growing, and the roles they take on are always expanding. Pharmacy technicians have to be able to multi-task, dependable, self-sufficient, and responsible. If a pharmacy tech is working in a retail setting, they need to be personable and patient when interacting with patients. These are all important characteristics employers will look for during the hiring process.
Students complete an externship of 165 hours during their program at WVJC. The externship allows students to go out and work in nearby businesses to get real-life experience in their field of study. WVJC has had students complete externships at small independent pharmacies and in hospital settings. The externship is an important part of the students’ education because it provides them with an opportunity to see which pharmacy career suits them the best. Some students divide their externship and do half in a retail setting and the other half in a hospital setting. Another perk that comes along with externships is that sometimes they lead to careers!
Over the next 5-10 years, schooling for pharmacy technicians is going to become very important. In 2020, anyone who wants to sit for the certification exam through PTCB will be required to go through a training program. This is a positive advancement in the field of pharmacy. Technicians will now be required to have knowledge of pharmacy and the medications they are interacting with every day. Pharmacy is an ever-changing and developing field and the demand for pharmacy technicians will only grow over the next 5-10 years.
Becoming a pharmacy technician is a very rewarding career! As a technician, you are constantly learning about medications, such as how they work in the body and what they are used for. Helping someone get the medication they need and knowing you made a difference in their life, even if it is a small difference, makes being a pharmacy technician very rewarding!
Senior year is both exciting and stressful. Many high school seniors are debating over what they want to do with the rest of their lives. The golden question for most seniors is where to attend college. Sarah Cruz, a Pharmacy Technician student at West Virginia Junior College Morgantown struggled with that question. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do right after high school, but my mom pushed me to go to school, and I complied.”
Sarah who is originally from Guam started her college career at Guam Community College. Once Sarah started the program, she realized GCC wasn’t the path for her. She decided to call it quits and work full time. “I enjoyed earning my own money and feeling like I had a new freedom.” Time passed, and Sarah made a big decision to move to Seattle with plans to start attending school again. After spending some time in Seattle, Sarah found herself having a hard time settling in. “Moving to a new place, trying to figure myself out, and working full time was too much.” Sarah then thought about moving to West Virginia. “About five months before I moved to West Virginia, I was visiting my cousin who invited me to live with her and go to school at WVJC.”
Sarah decided to meet with an Admissions Representative at WVJC. She loved it, and decided that the Pharmacy Technician program was the program she wanted to pursue. “I wanted a career where I could help people, support myself, and that I could have a great future in.” When asked what she enjoys most about WVJC Morgantown, Sarah said, “The hands on experience. We don’t just learn things by reading out of a book or watching videos. We get to experience everything before we graduate.” Sarah said she enjoys it so much, she would definitely refer her friends to WVJC. “It’s a smaller school, so it’s more intimate and the teachers make themselves available to you as often as possible. It’s nice being able to have that one-on-one help when you need it.”
Six weeks come and go quickly, according to Pharmacy Technician Coordinator Lindsay Mancuso. Even though the six weeks fly by as an educator, the knowledge that is gained and positive work environment drives the students and Lindsay to continued success.
Lindsay graduated from Grafton High School in 2008. After high school Lindsay did not hesitate—knowing the direction she wanted to take her education. Her love for pharmacy inspired her to gain her Certified Pharmacy Technician Certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. After gaining her certification she began her career at Kroger Pharmacy in 2009. This was her first “real- big girl job.” This job taught her to apply her knowledge and skills in the pharmacy world, but also the joy of customer service. Being able to communicate to her customers and help them to understand their medication was a challenge that she hadn’t considered. However, she quickly became the ‘sweet lady’ that enjoyed helping others and giving back to the community.
Lindsay had a desire not only to learn, but also to give back and share her knowledge with others. While scrolling through jobs one day she came across the Pharmacy Technician teaching job here at WVJC. She was excited, knowing that her dream was to teach what she knows about the Pharmacy world to the minds of younger people who need direction. Lindsay wanted to continue her love for Pharmacy, but also be able to share her knowledge and experiences with the students. She began working at WVJC in April 2013 and she quickly became a well-respected teacher, wonderful leader, and inspiration to many WVJC students.
After teaching for a short time, Lindsay made the decision to continue to better herself. She is currently enrolled at Fairmont State University perusing a Bachelor’s of Science. She is expected to graduate in May of 2018. It is safe to say that Lindsay is motivated, hardworking and very self-driven. Lindsay’s favorite quote is “climb mountains so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” Her favorite part about working at WVJC is getting to know the students and watching them change their lives by pursuing their dreams.
A perfect day for Lindsay is spending time with the ones she cares about and, of course, her Cat- Doughnut (after all she is known around WVJC as the “crazy cat lady”). In order to relax, she finds herself doing puzzles (we hope not of cats) and working out. Lindsay says that both puzzles and working out help her to relax and shut the world out for a small amount of time. She enjoys the healthy lifestyle of the gym to keep her energy up.
Looking back, Lindsay is, overall, proud of the person she has grown to be. “I have grown so much as a person and that makes me proud. Even though I am proud of who I am, I hope to one day go even further in my career and in the education world. I want to continue to inspire students every day and continue to motivate the students, even when times are hard. I hope that I have made a difference in some of their lives because I know that many have inspired me to be better, work harder and appreciate the blessings that have come my way.”