Creating career ladders for pharmacy technicians in North Carolina
WASHINGTON, DC - Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification and advanced training programs developed by the Pharmacy Technician Workforce Coalition of the Triad continue to support the development of highly-skilled pharmacy technician workforces in North Carolina's evolving healthcare system.
The Coalition, a collaborative effort between health-system pharmacy employers and local community colleges, was formed to address the ongoing quest for quality and patient care, and the introduction of new technology, including automation, robotics, and informatics, in the Triad region.
The two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in Pharmacy Technology for pharmacy technicians, developed by the Coalition with support from the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy and the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists, meets these needs by preparing a highly trained and PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) workforce to take on select new medication distribution and administrative tasks.
The program's comprehensive curriculum includes a range of courses on pharmaceutical calculations, medical terminology, computer systems, and critical thinking skills necessary for safe preparation and distribution of medications, and 600 hours of clinical hospital rotations under the supervision of pharmacists and senior pharmacy technicians.
"Graduates of the AAS program are qualified, have an appreciation for the work pharmacists do, and are eager to support and take ownership in patient care services," said Michael Nnadi, BSP, PharmD, MHS, Vice President Pharmacy Services, Chief Pharmacy Officer, Novant Health. "We have seen unprecedented response from community colleges. Five additional community colleges have replicated the program across the state withan anticipated enrollment of 80 students for the 2011-2012 academic year."
In his July Twitter Town Hall, President Barack Obama addressed the need to create systems where Americans may conveniently access community colleges that are working with businesses to prepare them for real employment opportunities. Collaboration between employers and education systems, such as the Coalition,is a key component in alleviating employment challenges faced by many pharmacy technicians and individuals across the country.
"Community colleges are a huge, under-utilized resource, where what we want to do is set up a lifelong learning system where you may have gotten your four-year degree," said President Obama during the Twitter Town Hall, "but five years out you decide you want to go into another field or you want to brush up on new technologies that are going to help you advance."
Employers in the Coalition benefit greatly by hiring pharmacy technicians who have completed the AAS program. Education and national certification provide employers with the ability to recognize the time and training employees have undertaken to develop expertise within the pharmacy field. Pharmacy technicians graduate ready to support a medication distribution process that is overseen by pharmacists, but technician-managed and technology-driven. This allows pharmacists to focus more fully on quality outcomes, ensuring a higher quality of care and safety for patients.
Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists in dispensing medications and are accountable to the supervising pharmacist who is legally responsible through state licensure for the care and safety of patients served by the pharmacy.
"Pharmacy technician students in the AAS program demonstrate their knowledge and skills by taking and passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE)," said Melissa Murer Corrigan, RPh, Executive Director and CEO of PTCB. "Through certification and education, students gain a sense of accomplishment that positively benefits themselves, employers, and patients in North Carolina."
Partners of the Coalition include Davidson County Community College, Forsyth Technical Community College, Guilford Technical Community College, Northwest Area Health Education Center, Forsyth Medical Center, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, Novant Health System, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.