Recently it was announced that Caitlin Labay is the recipient of the 2013 Caller-Times/Citgo South Texas’ Distinguished Scholar for Science.
Journalist Alissa Meija for the Caller-Times (based in Corpus Christi, Texas) reported (on November 15th) that Labay was looking forward to her 18th birthday next spring because then she would be eligible to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification exam. (In most states, although there are exceptions, you must be 18 years or older to work as a pharmacy technician).
However, Labay (still in high school) has already started her pharmacy career—a dream inspired as early as the fourth grade when she learned her best friend was diabetic.
At 14, Labay participated in the Driscoll Children’s Hospital Summer Volunteer program, and “…she later registered as a pharmacy technician in training and got a summer internship at DeLeon’s Clinic Pharmacy,” described Meija. She also completed college-level chemistry and biology classes through her high school’s International Baccalaureate program and in her spare time she has been studying for the PTCB exam.
Here are some ideas on how you too can kick start your pharmacy technician career.
High School Courses
Talk to the guidance counselor/career coordinator at your school to find out which applicable courses and programs are available.
For example, Chemistry, Biology and Medical Terminology (if available) are definitely key courses to complete. They may even be offered as college/university level or as concurrent college credits.
Your high school might even offer programs called College & Career Pathway, Career & Technical Education, or by other similar names, which include Pharmacy Technician course(s). These courses are ideal launch pads for post secondary pharmacy tech programs and some might be so extensive that they prepare you to write the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam.
Find out if your local pharmacy offers job shadowing opportunities. For example, Walgreens offers pharmacy tech job shadow programs for high school students. Take the initiative to ask pharmacies big and small if they’d be open to having you volunteer.
You might also consider approaching other healthcare and community settings that tie into pharmacology, such as your local hospital, doctor’s office or nursing home, to see if they need any volunteers.
Pharmacy Technician in Training
A “pharmacy technician-in-training” is generally an individual who has not yet completed an accredited educational pharmacy tech program and/or who is not yet certified (i.e. through the PTCB or NHA), but has plans to do so.
While some states may require a pharmacy technician in training to be at least 18 years old, some allow for high school students (younger than 18) to register for a permit. For example, in the case of Indiana, its Professional Licensing Agency states: “If you are currently enrolled in high school, then you will need to have your high school counselor submit a statement advising the Board of your academic performance as well as a copy of your current transcript. You must also have the qualifying pharmacist at the pharmacy at which you will be employed to submit a statement supporting your request to be a certified pharmacy technician.”
If you are already finished with high school, don’t worry! It’s not too late to start your career as a pharmacy technician. To help get you started information, visit the various pages highlighted on our homepage.