MoSTEMWINs helps student find a new career path

In May 2015, armed with a bachelor of arts degree in philology and ethics, Abigail “Abby” Jonson of Farmington was underemployed and tired of trying to find a job in her field that paid a living wage in rural Missouri. She had begun thinking about a rewarding career in the health sciences industry.

After attending a Certified Pharmacy Technician informational event at Mineral Area College, Abby decided to apply for the 20-week, MoWINs certificate program, joining eight other students as they embarked on a training program that included classroom curriculum, two clinical rotations and hands-on lab skills.

“The Pharmacy Technician training program introduced a lot of new skills and technical concepts that have greatly benefited me as a CPhT,” Abby said. “The math, nomenclature and pharmacology portions of the program have given me confidence in filling prescriptions safely and accurately. The legal and regulatory aspects of the pharmacy practice, as well as its long history, was really interesting to learn about, and led to an appreciation of how far modern medicine has come and the attention to safety and effectiveness now present in the industry. Getting to learn more about pharmacokinetics (the way drugs move and act within the body) has provided an insight into how the therapies we provide are helping patients live better, more healthy lives.”

The 20 credit-hour, MoWINs Certificate of Completion program includes Introduction to Pharmacy Practice; Introduction to Pharmacy Lab; Pharmacy Calculations;   Pharmacology and Leadership Development. The students complete 240 hours of clinical rotations at retail and institutional settings, learning valuable, hands-on skills outside the classroom environment, all in preparation for an entry-level pharmacy technician job and the National Certification Exam offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).  Those wanting to pursue additional education can apply these credit hours toward an Associate of Applied Science in Business Management – Retail Pharmacy Tech degree or a one-year Pharmacy Technician Certificate at Mineral Area College.

Abby’s first clinical rotation was at BJC’s Parkland Health Center in Farmington. In October 2015, Abby started working as a pharmacy technician at the Walgreens in Farmington.

“Having now seen both clinical/hospital pharmacy and community pharmacy, I can say they are vastly different environments,” Abby said. “While community pharmacy allows you to interface with patients on a daily basis and provide a more direct line of care, hospital practice is much more of a support position, and at times felt very technical. In particular, learning to reconstitute and mix injectable medications and IV fluids was very exacting as they’re often administered to especially-ill patients, and so the need for accuracy and an attention to aseptic techniques are of paramount importance.”

Abby’s supervisor at Walgreen’s, Danielle Landholt, PharmD, spoke highly of the program.

“As a positive aspect of higher education, this Mineral Area College program provides its students opportunities for personal growth and is an asset to our region’s healthcare industry,” Landholt said.

Abby indicated that she’s been pleased with her new line of work, and is grateful for the training that prepared her for it.

“The program made me confident in the skills I had gained. I was able to pass the PTCE on the first attempt with high marks and was certified in the beginning of November this past year,” Abby said.  “All in all, I found the experience to be wonderful, and it now sets me apart from other applicants who don’t have the same type of clinical experience.”

This article was 100% funded by the MoSTEMWINs $19.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (TAACCCT). The product was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership.

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