Pharmacy Tech Certificate to be Enhanced

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Pharmacy Technician Image

A synergistic community connection will grow the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program, and at the same time provide a much-needed supply of well-trained technicians for Northern Nevada.

The Pharmacy Technician Certificate is offered by Workforce Development and Community Education (WDCE) at Truckee Meadows Community College. WDCE collects no federal or state funds and is totally self-supporting, so the donation means even more to Nicole McDowell, Program Manager, WDCE.

Walmart has done something really big for a small department,” she said. “This local community grant is a game-changer for the program. The generous donation will help WDCE to offer and expand a rigorous program. It will also provide us with more control for where our students take their national exam. It ensures greater student success.”

Three local Walmart Stores, Inc. locations have donated a total of $5,300 to grow and upgrade the Pharmacy Tech Program:

  • Develop, write and review new curriculum
  • Provide focus on needs of Nevada, medications more used in the area
  • Hire qualified instructor for training course
  • Proctor for national certifying examination

A mock lab will also be built and stocked for practical simulation exercises.

“We have local connections now at Walmart to help review curriculum and give input for what is needed in the workplace locally,” McDowell said. “This grant shows the program has buy-in from a local partner in education and training the workforce.”

The Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program

“Ninety percent of the pharmacy technician jobs are retail-based positions, where the tech checks the filled prescriptions and other job duties,” she said. “The job growth rate is 19 percent through 2024. That’s much higher than the national growth rate of occupations, which is 11 percent.”

WDCE will launch the newly upgraded course in Fall Semester 2017. It will be held at TMCC’s Meadowood site and sessions will represent 50-70 hours of instruction.

The program will take place during a 9-12-week time-frame, meeting twice a week in the evening for three-and-a-half hours, and cover concepts needed for mastery on the national certification examination. The exam is tentatively set for the last evening of class.

Tuition, books and the examination are all included in the price of the certificate training course. After passing the test, graduates will be qualified for entry-level positions as pharmacy technicians. There is no internship required for the certificate.

“With 50-70 hours of training, people will have the skills for a good, solid job,” McDowell said.

A requirement to enter the program is that the student is at least 18 years of age. There are no prerequisites for immunizations or a high school diploma. However, McDowell added that to get a job in this field, most employers will look for candidates with a diploma.

The Pharmacy Technician Position

Pharmacy techs check prescriptions that the staff pharmacist has filled, supporting them as a second set of eyes. Pharmacists traditionally hold a Pharm.D. degree, representing about three years of college beyond a bachelor’s degree.

The technician will work with customers; taking their patient information, checking factors such as other medications they are taking, and working with insurance companies. The personality and skills a technician will need include the following:

  • Communication with a pharmaceutical team
  • Patience when people are not feeling their best
  • Knowledge of doctor’s office procedures
  • Knowledge of insurance company requirements
  • Math skills for counting, measuring and pricing
  • Detail-oriented in collecting information and checking prescriptions
  • Calm demeanor in stressful situations or peak times

“In many retail stores, the pharmacies are now open 24 hours a day, so there are lots of opportunities to work the shift desired, or as a second job,” she said.

Graduates will also have gained a great deal of knowledge about local practices in pharmacies, which will translate to better patient care in the region.

“Walmart is supportive of the community, the workforce development department and a high level of skilled pharmacy technicians,” McDowell said. “They’ve helped us to create another pathway for students to be successful and find good, local employment.”

For more information about the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program, please contact WDCE.