Pharmacy Technician Course Provides On-The-Job Training
Growing up, Jonathan Sunday would accompany his father to the pharmacy he owned and worked at in Baltimore. Assisting his dad piqued Sunday’s interest in the profession, and becoming a pharmacy technician quickly became his goal.
Sunday’s first step to pursuing his dream was to take and complete a pharmacy technician course online. He then attempted to register for licensing, but was told the online course was not accepted by the Maryland Board of Pharmacy. After some searching, Sunday learned about the Pharmacy Technician Training Theory and Externship course at Howard Community College (HCC). The continuing education course, including 96 hours of theory and 160 externship hours, meets Maryland Board of Pharmacy regulations and upon successful completion, students are eligible to sit for the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Exam and apply for registration with the Maryland Pharmacy Board.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow nine percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations, as increased demand for prescription medications will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical services.
Sunday enthusiastically registered for the course, and on a brisk evening last fall, had the unique experience of “gowning up” with other students at VitaScript Compounding Pharmacy & Nutrition Center in Columbia – a pharmacy owned by his instructor, Dr. Lynn Shumake. The experience gave Sunday and his classmates practice with hands-on non-sterile compounding.
“We have used the Science and Technology labs for pharmacy practice in the past, but it is better for the students to actually be in a pharmacy,” said Marilyn Estes, continuing professional education coordinator of allied health at HCC. “The surroundings are there for them to see exactly how it’s done.”
Sunday said the hands-on learning through Dr. Shumake’s class was valuable.
“Without actually going to the pharmacy and filling an order, we can only visualize the steps and procedures used in filling prescriptions,” he said.
Sunday’s classmate Mwaza Chingalame was working as a cashier at Whole Foods Market when she decided she wanted a career change and registered for HCC’s Pharmacy Technician course.
“The knowledge and experience we acquire from this course can be applied in real life,” she said. “The experience at the compounding pharmacy was great.
“Applied learning in an actual pharmacy allows me to practice the knowledge and skills that I learned in class in a real setting. And that’s invaluable.”
Another classmate, Amanda Chesser, a mother who works part-time, decided to enroll in HCC’s pharmacy technician course after looking for a certificate program that fit her schedule and met her long-term career goals in pharmacy.
“The training at the compound pharmacy was fun,” she said. “My favorite part was compounding the lotion because we got to take something home that we made ourselves. We also got to see some equipment that we read about in our textbooks.
“I would recommend this program to anybody,” she said. “It can also fit into the schedule of a very busy person, which is what I really appreciated. I hope others gain as much from it as I did.”
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