At the tender age of 19, I decided to become a pharmacy technician. Not many schools were offering the program at the time, so I was ecstatic when a career training school 30 minutes away had dates scheduled. The program was 9 months including a 1 month externship at a pharmacy of my choice.
I was so proud of my performance in the program. I earned the highest grade in the class and averaged a score of 98% on my tests and quizzes. I was sure that I would have the best externship opportunity with what I had learned and retained. Truth be told, 8 months and $12,000 later, I began my externship, which was not of my choice. They placed me at a hospital pharmacy. Imagine my panic when I realized the majority of the class was focused on retail pharmacy operations. Yes, I was placed with the best externship facility, but, I was very lost and unprepared. What did we learn in these 8 months?! Was I prepared to take the PTCB certification exam?
Due to my experience, I always advise students to take the ‘easier on the wallet’, semester-long career training program. Pharmacy technicians don’t need to learn the FULL history of the pharmaceutical industry. We need career training – how to do our job under different stress level situations. We need to practice in the classroom before going on an externship so we aren’t lost! We need to spend more time behind the pharmacy counter and less time in the classroom.
Another realization that I forgot to ask was if the class was going to help prepare me for the PTCB certification exam. I understand as an educator that no class will promise you the outcome of passing the exam or to have a confirmed job. My advice is: If the program DOES confirm to help prepare you for the exam, then you are in good hands. However, if the program DOES NOT help prepare you, then RUN! Write down what you need to get a job (license cost, certification cost, etc.) Take into account how much technicians make in your area and then move to making a decision to register.
Working with MK Education for almost 6 years has shown me what a true career training program consists of. Every day I have the pleasure of working with students who were in my same shoes not too long ago. I take pride in advising students the best way to get to their goal of becoming a licensed and certified pharmacy technician! I am able to assist instructors from a student’s point of view because I know first-hand how it feels to be in the student’s shoes. And the best outcome out of them all, I can share my experience with everyone so they don’t make the same mistakes I did.
(Please Note: Not all states require certification and licensing to practice as a pharmacy technician. To learn more, please visit your state’s board of pharmacy office.)
What did my pharmacy technician class teach me? I learned what it means to be a successful pharmacy technician, but not necessarily the skills I needed to be successful. If becoming a pharmacy technician is your goal, reach your goal as quickly and painlessly as you can. Don’t waste your time on a program where 90% of the material is not needed and the 10% left isn’t enough to learn the things that you DO need to learn. My advice isn’t that you should NOT take a long-term career program (because sometimes it is needed); rather, my advice is do your research, ask questions and get your money’s worth!
Bree Abbas, Client Manager @ MK Education