Submitted by Charter College
John Cohen always knew he wanted a career in health care. He worked as a combat medic during his time in the U.S. Army, but he figured out pretty quickly that he wasn’t a trauma guy and began looking for alternatives when he completed his service.
“Working in a pharmacy is as necessary as other health care positions, but you don’t have to work directly with bodily fluids and blood,” he says.
Cohen began working as a pharmacy technician when he was discharged from the Army in 2011. He decided to start teaching those skills in 2014, and joined the Charter College Lacey team in 2015, where he now serves as the Lead Pharmacy Technician Instructor.
“I love teaching, especially at Charter, where I get to see students of every age and experience level, each bringing a different story and reason to better their lives,” he says. “And then I get to work with them to help them get to a better place than they were before.”
In addition to teaching, Cohen continues to work as a fill-in pharmacy technician through a local employment staffing company. “It keeps me in the field and current, which also benefits my students,” he says.
Cohen enjoys talking about the role of the pharmacy technician. “You’re the frontline person between the patient and the pharmacist,” he says. “You could have a person’s life in your hands, so it’s critical that you’re focused and detail-oriented to ensure they get the right prescription.”
Pharmacy technicians also help ensure patients are not mixing medications they shouldn’t be. “Pharmacists are really busy and we’re the ones who have the facetime with the patients,” Cohen says. “This allows us to help identify risks and bring in the pharmacists for a consultation when necessary.”
Charter College opened its learning site in Lacey in 2015, offering residents of Thurston County career educational opportunities in health care. The site, located at 4520 Lacey Blvd. SE, Suite 40, currently offers two blended education programs — Medical Assistant and Pharmacy Technician, both of which can be completed in as little as ten months.
“We wanted to make sure we were offering our students healthy career paths with plenty of opportunities,” said Campus President Dr. Bruce Higdon. “Our career services and education teams watch trends to stay on top of areas of job growth for potential students. And research shows that Medical Assistants and Pharmacy Technicians are going to be in even higher demand as Americans continues to age.”
The Pharmacy Technician program prepares students for employment as an entry-level assistant to a licensed pharmacist. The program provides the fundamentals of pharmacy calculations, drug distribution systems, preparation of sterile dosage forms, customer service, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacy operations.
Employment opportunities for graduates with a pharmacy technician certificate can include positions in hospitals, medical centers, skilled nursing facilities, private pharmacies, outpatient clinics and pharmaceutical companies.
To meet work requirements in Washington, all pharmacy technician students are required to pass a national pharmacy technician certification examination administered by a program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Charter College will sponsor students who take the national exam with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board which is accredited by NCCA.
As with other health care fields, the outlook is good for pharmacy technicians. An aging population tends to mean more prescription usage, and pharmaceutical advances will also mean more opportunity in this field.
Charter College’s Blended Learning curriculum combines hands-on classroom and work experience with online education. This schedule offers students more flexibility with their schedules, allowing them to work and manage family life. It saves them daily travel time and expenses, offering them the convenience of learning from home blended with hands-on learning and support. Prior to graduation, students also complete an externship in a pharmacy or clinic to gain additional work experience.
Details on Charter College’s pharmacy technician program is available online or by calling 888-200-9942.
Charter College is a private, independent institution of higher education, providing students with a career-focused education in growing job fields that include health care, business, information technology, aviation, and select trades. Charter College operates college campuses in Washington, California, Alaska, New Mexico and Montana, and operates an online program. For more information, visit the Charter College Website.