A lot has changed in Clover Park Technical College’s Pharmacy Technician program over the last 15 years, but one thing that hasn’t is the dedication of the instructors to providing the best opportunities for their students.
That was Sara’s experience when she finished the program with three job offers waiting for her, and it continues to be the experience she sees as a member of the program’s advisory committee and mentor to students she works with.
“Throughout the program, the instructors were really supportive,” Sara said. “I learned that pharmacy is a small community, and I’ve kept in touch with a lot of the instructors and students I knew in the program. They really took the time to get to know the students and help promote the paths and opportunities that can make them the most successful.”
Sara came to the program looking for a career change. She had a good career in Maryland, where she grew up, but after getting married and moving across the country she was looking for something new, something that would be more conducive to starting a family. Her husband had attended Clover Park before joining the Army, and he recommended the college.
“He told me it’s a local college; it’s affordable; there are a lot of career paths to choose from, and the instructors will try to help set you up for success in your career,” Sara said.
After looking through the college’s program offerings, she settled on Pharmacy Technician. Her aunt had been a pharmacy tech and told her about it, so it stuck out as something that interested her and could fit with her previous customer service and supervisory experience.
“It only took me about a year in the program, and it was ridiculous how much more affordable it was than other college options I looked into,” Sara said.
While in the program, she had three different externship opportunities in different areas of the pharmacy technician field: long-term care, in-patient hospital, and retail. Prior to that experience, she envisioned herself working in retail. But her instructor disagreed.
“[Retired CPTC instructor] Maureen [Sparks] really encouraged me to come work at St. Clare Hospital,” Sara said. “She encouraged me and thought I would do really well here. Somehow, she knew this would be the best fit for me.
At the conclusion of her time in the program, Sara received job offers from all three of her externships. That presented a difficult choice, and she trusted her instructor’s guidance. It’s absolutely paid off. In her first year, she worked her way up from per diem to part time to lead technician. Over the years, the growth of the hospital led to a position shift to a new role called pharmacy coordinator. She assists the manager of pharmacy operations and helps handle all things involving the pharmacy.
“I’m really thankful to Maureen that she told me to come here,” Sara said. “I feel like I’ve grown up here, and I never want to leave.”
A few years ago, she was asked to join the program advisory committee. Between that and her time overseeing CPTC students doing their own externships at the hospital, she has the chance to see how much the program has grown.
“The program has changed so much since the time that I was there, and I’ve had the privilege of helping the instructors keep the program current,” Sara said. “The facilities are state-of-the-art, especially compared to when I was there. I feel like the CPTC students are some of the best we have when they come work here, and most of the pharmacy technicians we have working here are CPTC graduates.”
She points out the level of preparation students receive in the program and the difference it makes in the workplace. She knows exactly how well it works from her own experience.
“One of the things that stuck with me the most from my program was treating the externship experience like a job. I did that, and I received offers from all three companies,” Sara said. “Now I get the privilege in my role of helping to orient and mentor new CPTC students, so for me it’s really gratifying. I feel like I’ve come full-circle, and I get to give back.”