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New Pharmacy Technician Program Debuts This Fall

PENDLETON --- Over the past year, Dr. Ann Barnes, program coordinator and instructor for Tri-County Technical College's new Pharmacy Technician program, worked on curriculum development and achieving SACS accreditation, talked with health care partners, and recruited students in preparation for launching the program this fall.

            For years, a Pharmacy Technician certificate program was offered by the College's Corporate and Community Education Division.  Last year the decision was made to offer it as a one-year diploma program through the Health Education Division.  The program received approval from the State Technical College Board and received accreditation by the American Society of Healthsystem Pharmacists.     

The 45-hour, three-semester program will have classroom and clinical components.  It will prepare graduates to work in hospital and retail pharmacies, research laboratories, home health care agencies and other health and personal care industries.  Students must be eligible to enroll in English 101 and Math 101.

Classes will be held on the College's Pendleton Campus.

            Dr. Barnes has spent the last 15 years working as a pharmacist in retail and hospital pharmacies and welcomes this new opportunity to teach and train technicians for the career she has worked with and respected for years.  "The pharmacy technicians are the operational aspect of the pharmacy.  They are the nuts and bolts of pharmacy, its heart and soul," said Dr. Barnes.  "They are the first and last person a customer sees when visiting the pharmacy for prescriptions.  A well trained technician will connect with the customers," she said.

            Pharmacy technicians must be detail oriented, have good communication skills, be adept at math and science and have the ability to multi-task, she added. "No matter what the setting is, the phone is always ringing and customers are always waiting," she said.

            "Over the years, I found myself not losing contact with the operational aspect of the pharmacy and made sure to not lose that skill set myself.  I truly value what they do. For a pharmacy to work well, you can't lose that connection with the technicians," she said.

            "I'm excited about the opportunity to teach. I will take my years of experience, in combination with educational resources, to create hands-on, practical experiences to prepare these students for the work place," she added.  She stresses that professionalism and teamwork are as important as academics.  "It's not just about the technical skills.  A well-rounded technician can walk in and be an asset from day one."

            Employment for pharmacy technicians is predicted to grow by 24 percent over the next five years, with an annual median salary of $28,400.  Tri-County's general education courses coincide with those required for transfer, providing students with further educational opportunities, such as a pathway into the Pre-Pharmacy program.

            For more information, contact Dr. Ann Barnes at 646-1334 or abarnes8@tctc.edu.