Director and Instructor of Pharmacy Technician Program
Pharmacy technicians are assistants to pharmacists, working under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. Techs can work in a variety of settings including retail, hospital, home health, nursing homes, mail order, and Internet pharmacies. Starting pay can range from $7 to $9 in East Tennessee, with nationally certified techs making on average $2 more an hour than non-certified. Currently there is not a law mandating certification, however with the increasing roles and responsibilities of techs, certification is expected to be required in the near future.
The Walters State Pharmacy Tech program is a total of 23-credit hours. A technical certificate is earned from the college upon successful completion of the program's curriculum requirements. As one of the few formal training programs in the state, we offer a program that consists of both didactic and experiential coursework, ranging from processing prescriptions, interpreting med orders, extemporaneous compounding, legal and ethical issues, and making IV products. The program began in 1997 and has had over 150 graduates who have successfully passed the National Certification exam.
The Pharmacy Technician Program's mission is to be consistent with the mission of Walters State Community College. The college mission is to lead the community into the twenty-first century with comprehensive, quality education. The mission in the Pharmacy Technician Program is to fill the need for pharmacy technicians immediately and into the next century.
The program's mission is to provide comprehensive, quality training for the students which will lead to a technical certificate of completion. Training these technicians will increase the benefits to the local community by providing better and more complete health care through a mechanism of freeing the pharmacist to perform the counseling duties which have been mandated by OBRA 90. Therefore, the program remains consistent with the mission statement "The college's management system is designed to ensure the delivery of programs and services that meet the needs of the individuals, business and industry, and the community."
The Technician Program Director will collaborate with state governing bodies, with other schools, with pharmacy organizations, and the advisory committee to ensure that the program is soundly based in its protocols and course work. The program will adjust and change as needs arise to take full advantage of the local and state conditions; therefore, the department will remain consistent with the mission statement "For the service area, Walters State assesses and responds to changing community needs and provides opportunities for enhancing the quality of life throughout upper East Tennessee."
GOAL To prepare the program graduates to enter the field of the pharmacy profession as trained technicians capable of filling the needs for pharmacy technicians in the East Tennessee area immediately and into the next century.
To provide comprehensive, quality training for the students so that they will be able to demonstrate adequate knowledge to work in the retail and institutional pharmacy with minimal adaptation and to provide the student with adequate didactic work to prepare them to successfully complete the National Certification Pharmacy Technician Examination. (Cognitive Domain)
To provide the student with technical competency in pharmacy technology to the extent that the student will be able to perform the tasks generally associated with pharmacy technician duties. (Psychomotor Domain)
To provide the student with adequate skills in communication to successfully communicate with the sick and ambulatory patient and to successfully interact with coworkers so as to avoid problems and to solve problems when they occur and demonstrate judgment and decision-making as might be required of a pharmacy technician in the pharmacy setting. (Affective Domain)
Graduates of the program will be eligible to apply to take the national certification exam to become a certified pharmacy technician. However, individuals who have been convicted of crimes other than minor traffic violations could be ineligible for pharmacy technician certification in the state of Tennessee, even though they have successfully completed the Pharmacy Technician program. Pharmacy technicians may not practice unless under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.
Students applying to the program must meet the college's general admission requirements. Students should indicate Pharmacy Technician (PHAR) as their major and must complete the Pharmacy Technician Program Application. All requirements must be met as outlined in the program application prior to enrolling.
Once enrolled in the program, the student must complete the drug/alcohol consent and release form. A student must indicate on the consent and release form that they are drug free and will be willing to submit to a drug test at any time during the program if requested by the director or clinical affiliate. A positive drug test may result in grounds for immediate dismissal.
While in the program, students must comply with the college's policies and successfully meet program curriculum requirements.
Prior to the clinical training phase of the program, the student must obtain the following: a physical examination, laboratory tests, immunizations, and liability insurance, criminal background check (at the facilities request) all at the student's expense.
Program graduation requirements include the successful completion of the courses in the program with a minimum grade of "C" in each course.
Over 3 billion prescriptions are filled in the United States each year. Kimberly Brown, director of Walters State's Pharmacy Technician program, works hard to make sure prescriptions filled in this area are done right – by certified pharmacy technicians.
Certified pharmacy technicians who graduates from the program have a nearly 90 percent placement rate.
"With the skills you learn in this program, you can always find a job. New pharmacies are always being built," Brown said.
Brown said many students choose to be a pharmacy technician as a life-long career while others find the job opens doors to other health care careers. Graduates have decided to go on to pharmacy school, become a nurse or even enter pharmaceutical sales. Those career transitions also create new openings.
Walters State's Pharmacy Technician program is one of only seven in Tennessee accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
The program lasts three semesters. The last semester involves no actual classes. Instead, students do clinical rotations and gain experience in retail and institutional settings. After completing degree requirements, students are eligible to sit for the national certification exam.
Brown said that what graduates do is determined by the setting. Working in a drugstore is much different than working in a hospital.
"Technicians always work under the pharmacist's supervision. In a retail setting, technicians process prescriptions, deal with insurance issues and usually do inventory management along with other responsibilities," Brown explained.
"In an institutional setting like a hospital, a technician might be making I.V. medications, preparing critical care medications and delivering those to the nurses station."
Brown makes sure students are qualified for either field.
"During the first semester we have an introductory class where students learn everything about the top 300 drugs, including prescription processing, pharmacy calculations and general compounding. In the next semester, students study in-depth pharmacology, including over-the-counter medicines, herbal emedies and I.V. compounding," she added.
For information on the Pharmacy Technician program, call Brown at 423. 318.2757.