Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
If you’ve ever had a bad cold, a sick kid or an emergency prescription, then you know firsthand the importance of a good, kind and efficient pharmacy technician. What you may not know is that the week of Oct. 22 through Oct. 28 was National Pharmacy Week and with all the good things the Allied Health Division at Lamar State College-Orange is doing, the pharmacy tech program is no exception.
For more than 10 years LSC-O has been training and certifying pharmacy techs in the area as they offer the only accredited pharmacy tech program between Baton Rouge, La., and Houston.
The pharmaceutical industry is expected to surge over the next decade due to the increased needs of a larger and older population, and pharmacy technicians shouldn’t face a lack of job security any time soon.
With the pharmacy technology program at LSC-O, you can join the ranks of thousands of others and start aiding licensed pharmacists after only two semesters, develop relevant job skills and learn from experienced pharmacy technicians. The program also offers IV training and Clinical setting training leading to job placement in the pharmacy tech field.
As the only program accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists within a more than 200-mile radius, it is easy to be deceived by programs advertised on television, in magazines, or online that claim you can become a pharmacy technician simply by reading their programs and taking tests. Thera Granger, clinical coordinator at LSC-O, sets the record straight, though.
“Becoming a competent pharmacy technician requires both knowledge and skills that must be developed through hands-on experience,” she said. “ASHP-accredited programs involve a combination of classroom instruction and working experiences in an actual pharmacy. ASHP-accredited programs must be a minimum length of 600 hours extending over 15 weeks or longer.”
Elaborating on that statement, she says pharmacy technicians play an increasingly important role in public safety, and their responsibilities are expanding and evolving as the pharmacy profession changes with new medications, technologies and challenges. The accreditation process is designed to protect the public by requiring training programs to meet a nationally recognized standard for excellence.
“Students who enroll in the LSC-O pharmacy tech program also have the advantage over on-the-job training technicians,” said Randy Ford, director of pharmacy technology. “They have more job opportunities in the IV field and are more competent in solving complex math equations, which will benefit students that sit for the PTCB exam.”
Both Granger and Ford said that the misconception of the certification is that it leads only to a lifetime filling your neighbor’s prescriptions behind a counter at the local drugstore, which isn’t true.
With the appropriate amount of training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, may seek specialization such as oncology, or may pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist. Some technicians gain specialized skills in sterile products admixture, pharmacy automation, and health information systems.
An ASHP survey of pharmacy practice managers in Aug. 2009 revealed 56 percent of organizations offer career advancement opportunities for technicians. In an ASHP survey of pharmacy technicians, 81 percent indicated they expect to perform duties of a pharmacy technician for five or more years, including retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, compounding pharmacies and nuclear pharmacies.
Pharmacy techs assist pharmacist in serving patients nationwide in community pharmacies, hospitals and health systems, nursing homes, mail-order pharmacies and more. Technicians carry out a variety of tasks within the pharmacy, such as entering prescription orders into pharmacy databases, operating automatic dispensing systems, preparing IV admixtures, maintaining inventories, and processing insurance claims.
“Safe medication-use-systems require the support of well-qualified and competent pharmacy technicians who are accountable to the supervising pharmacist,” said Granger.
Boasting some of the most cutting-edge training equipment in the field, LSC-O’s program teaches students on real equipment including a medication dispensing machine for hospital use; a chemotherapy hood for nuclear IV preparations; compounding equipment, including capsule preparation, suspension, creams, ointments and suppositories; a Lamar Flow Hood for sterile IV admixtures, and more.
For students starting classes during a fall semester, the certification time could be less than nine months, or up to two semesters before students can earn one of the more than 40,000 job openings in the pharmacy tech field.
“The job of a certified pharmacy technician is an important one since the use of medication has the power to heal or to hurt, and the techs who fill prescriptions understand their responsibility to the well-being of their patients,” said Granger. “We provide the best and most up-to-date pharmacy tech curriculum and training equipment, and Randy Ford and I have a combined 30 years of pharmacy experience and are dedicated to student success.”
For more information on LSC-O’s Pharmacy Technology program, contact Thera Granger at 409-882-3010 or Randy Ford at 409-882-3035. You can also visit www.lsco.edu/alliedhealth/pharmacytech.asp.