Preparing a Professional Class of Pharmacy Technicians

Preparing a Professional Class of Pharmacy Technicians

Sarah Lawrence, PharmD, MA, CGP
Director, Pharmacy Technician Program

As pharmacists, you hardly need to be reminded of how important a dependable, well-trained pharmacy technician is to the field of pharmacy in general. In whatever capacity or setting a technician ends up employed, he or she invariably works closely with and in support of the pharmacists at that site. Ideally, a pharmacy technician becomes a resource—a responsible colleague on whose training and skills the team can rely. This is why the Sullivan University Pharmacy Technician program has taken to heart its mission to provide both a hands-on and an academic experience to its students, because Sullivan recognizes the importance of equipping technicians with the skills and the practice they need to enter the workforce as dependable, well-educated professionals. While well-trained technicians are necessary at any site, Sullivan also recognizes the growing need for skilled pharmacy technicians in the greater Louisville community. Through its collaborations with partners in the region, the Sullivan University Pharmacy Technician program strives to meet that need while preparing reliable technicians for the community.

Verbs like “equipping” and “preparing” are key words here, because that’s exactly what the Sullivan University Pharmacy Technician program is invested in—educating and training pharmacy technicians in a comprehensive way, providing them with a guaranteed base-level of competence before they ever enter employment. Further, the Sullivan University Pharmacy Technician program is itself housed within the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy (SUCOP), both in terms of its physical space and academic administration. This is an obvious boon to both programs, creating an intraprofessional space out of the building and learning environments as Sullivan’s program is one of the only technician programs in the entire country so closely associated with a college of pharmacy.

Beyond mere association with a college of pharmacy, students in Sullivan’s technician program also have access to all the same resources, facilities, and equipment as SUCOP students. This means they are granted access not just to SUCOP’s study rooms and classrooms, but also to its technology and to its compounding lab, where students can get practical, hands-on lab experience. Technician students also have access to the Drug Information Center (DIC) at SUCOP, an academic-based drug information center providing technology and resources to students, faculty, and other health care professionals. In addition to the availability of SUCOP’s resources, Sullivan’s Pharmacy Technician students also spend a great deal of time in two simulation labs, designed specifically with the Pharmacy Technician program in mind: one models the community pharmacy setting; the other, the institutional pharmacy setting.

While access to resources and equipment is important to any academic or training program, an education is usually only as effective as the educators facilitating it or the administrators leading it. The faculty teaching in the technician program bring to bear a wealth of pharmacy, technician, and other health care experience, making the hands-on training that much more beneficial to the students, especially since it’s coming from educators with real-world knowledge of institutional and community pharmacy settings. In April 2016, Dr. Sarah Lawrence—a 2011 SUCOP graduate—joined the faculty as the newest director of the Sullivan Pharmacy Technician program. Dr. Lawrence doesn’t simply bring to her leadership role a diverse surplus of pharmacy and academic experience; with her PharmD degree and her varied academic background, her role as director further cements Sullivan’s commitment to the integration of the Pharmacy Technician program into the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy. Who is better qualified to lead a technician education program than an experienced academic and pharmacist?

As health care providers, you want qualified, highly skilled technicians regardless of your practice setting. Sullivan’s Pharmacy Technician program aims to provide them, and through doing so, it sets a benchmark for quality. Our Pharmacy Technician grads hail from a program led by pharmacists and professionals and in which they are taught by experts. The Pharmacy Technician program is one of only a handful in the region fully accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which is a consistent marker of quality and compliance with ASHP’s educational standards. This also requires the program to implement continuous and rigorous improvement to remain in compliance with those same and evolving accreditation standards.

Our program also prepares each student for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination after the completion of their education, and our pass rate sits at 86 percent—well above the 57 percent national average. We have dozens of contracts with institutional and community settings where students complete 200 hours in externships, 100 in each practice setting. Moreover, the completion of the Pharmacy Technician program itself can be tailored to the students’ own educational plans—they may earn either a Professional Pharmacy Technician Diploma in around 12 months or an associate’s degree in around 18 months, each of which produces the same kind of well-prepared technicians that employers desire. The only difference is the amount of time participants put into the program, which ultimately depends upon the students’ needs.

All things considered, it may appear at first that our Pharmacy Technician program boasts an embarrassment of riches, but that’s not it exactly—it’s a marker of consistent, continually improving quality. It’s an indication of reliability and excellence. If you’re looking for a measure of what makes a well-equipped technician, you should look no further than right here at SUCOP.

Questions? Please contact Sarah Lawrence at slawrence@sullivan.edu.

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