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Celebrating Bow Valley College's Prescription for Success

Pharmacy Technician Day

Ever wonder who all of those people are behind your pharmacy counter? Chances are some of those professionals who received their training right here at Bow Valley College.

The Pharmacy Technician Diploma prepares graduates for a highly specialized field, giving them the skills that they need to work in both hospital and community pharmacy settings. These registered health professionals compound mixtures, take verbal orders from prescribers like doctors and do those final checks on your prescription. Loren Voice is a Pharmacy Technician and a clinical lab instructor in the School of Health and Wellness. When it comes to performing quality control duties, Voice says, "we want to make sure what we hand to you has been accurately checked."

A vital part of the prescription for success in this diploma is Bow Valley College's state-of-the-art lab. Students train in a simulated workspace using real medications and technology that is world-class. The equipment and facilities in the lab are designed to mirror real pharmacy settings with a designated antiroom, clean room as well as certified sterile production hoods. Students use a high-speed automated drug packager called PACMED*, a skill which sets Bow Valley College grads apart when employers are looking at their resumes. And because teamwork will be a function of their profession, a long, collaborative island in the lab promotes an environment in which classmates work together, just as they would in a hospital or a community setting.

While working in a lab that mirrors the real thing is a big help in making sure Pharmacy Technician graduates are work-ready, the diploma also gives them essential customer service tools. Bow Valley College has a realistic community pharmacy, complete with a counter to drop off and pick up prescriptions, and shelves with over the counter products. Instructors put students through real-life scenarios, like taking phone calls from doctors and nurses, as well as patients who are not so happy. According to Voice, it is an invaluable experience. "They're pretty scared when they're here, and they're doing it, but after practicums, they know how to communicate with people because we've put them through it."

It is a profession that has evolved over the past eight years. Pharmacy Technicians have an expanded scope of practice, which allows them to perform valuable duties in a bustling community pharmacy. This resource is crucial during flu season when pharmacists provide flu shots to patients. "If you have a technician that's working to their full scope of practice they can take care of so many things in the background, so the pharmacist has the time to spend with those patients doing those injections," says Voice.

The Pharmacy Technician Diploma offered at Bow Valley College has built a reputation that should instil a sense of pride throughout the College. Voice says that when they ask students why they decided to enrol, many of them say their community pharmacist or pharmacy technician referred them. That word of mouth recommendation is helping to fuel such high interest in the profession, the program fills up quickly. With two months of practical experience and 350 lab hours, Bow Valley College graduates are in high demand, with employers actively seeking them out. It is also a career with the potential to make a great living with pharmacy technicians earning as much as $37 an hour.

Pharmacy Technician day is on October 15, 2019. It is a day to celebrate advancements in the field, but also to educate people about what these qualified professionals do behind that counter. That is something echoed by Voice, who believes increased awareness will lead to increased appreciation. "Even just to get people aware that there are different people back there and they have different roles that are important."


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