One of the best ways to figure out if a course is a good fit for you is to hear from those who have taken it before! The first installment of our “Student Success Story” series features former Pharmacy Technician student Toni Martin. Toni holds a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from the State University of New York’s Empire State College. After spending over three decades working in nonprofit management, she decided she wanted a change. She didn’t want to invest years into a new degree program and decided UTC’s Pharmacy Tech Academy would create the career opportunities she desired. After passing the Pharmacy Technology Certification Board exam, she began a full-time job at Access Family Pharmacy in Chattanooga.
Marah: What is your favorite topic that you studied in the pharmacy tech course?
Toni: It’s hard to pick just one topic! I not only loved learning about compounding medicine but also the many laws that protect consumers and patients. We had a full day of hands-on training to gain experience in compounding medicine. The training reinforced what I had learned in the textbook, and I was grateful for the opportunity to practice real-world techniques! Regarding pharmacy laws, pharmacy practice is regulated by several federal agencies, and each state has a Board of Pharmacy which oversees pharmacies on a state level. Because of my knowledge of the laws, I know that my day-to-day work is ethical and can be trusted by patients and their families.
M: Overall, what was the most enjoyable part of taking the pharmacy tech course?
T: Despite a last-minute switch to a Zoom classroom, the course provided a surprising level of community among the students and instructor. Ms. Cynthia Wright taught with energy and humor, and she made the best of challenging circumstances. Seeing my classmates’ living spaces (bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, etc.) gave me an appreciation for what we all have in common. I feel that I knew my fellow students just as well as if we had been physically together in a classroom. Remarkably, no one missed a single session; we showed up on Zoom to learn. Ms. Cynthia also emphasized community by giving us time to introduce ourselves so we weren’t a bunch of random strangers. She even implemented fun activities into the Zoom classroom, such as when she asked us to wear our favorite hats for the UTC hat day!
M: What does your professional life look like now that you have completed the pharmacy tech course?
T: As a full-time certified pharmacy technician in a busy community pharmacy, I’m learning the practical side of pharmacy work. I’m applying what I learned in class in a real-world setting, and after taking the class, I felt well-prepared to enter the pharmacy field.
M: In what ways did the pharmacy tech course prepare you for the job that you have now?
T: The course covered an astonishing amount of material in a short time. Ms. Cynthia shared practical, applicable advice about working in the field; for example, what certified pharmacy technicians may and may not do, when to involve the pharmacist in situations, and the necessity of demonstrating both empathy and discretion in dealing with patients.
M: What goals, both personally and professionally, did the pharmacy tech course help you to accomplish?
T: My first goal was to have a good retirement job that allowed me to serve people. I met my goal when I took the course and became certified. My second goal, which was to have a new career at this stage of my life, has brought me a special joy. Meeting new people and learning new skills makes work more meaningful.
M: What would be your advice to someone who is considering taking the pharmacy tech course?
T: Be prepared for a fast-paced program and accept the reality that you need to be self-driven. Allow plenty of time for homework and independent study and memorize as many of the basics as possible. All the drugs, conversions, and math calculations aren’t going to magically appear in your brain during the test.
M: What would be your advice to someone studying for their certification exam? Do you have any study tips you would give them?
T: Take as many practice tests as you can. Read the test outline provided with your materials. Learning how the test is constructed gives you a road map to prioritizing and learning the material. Invest in official PTCB learning programs such as practice tests and the math calculations app.
M: Is there anything else you would like to share about the pharmacy tech course?
T: I appreciate all the help I received from Diane Perkins and Will Watson when I registered last minute. Taking the Pharmacy Tech course is a worthwhile investment of time and tuition for someone who wants a fast on-ramp to a new career.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi! My name is Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M). I am the Marketing Assistant for UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, I spend time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with our customer base. During my free time, you can find me getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, I aspire to live by the Mr. Feeny quote, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” I strive to use my passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around me.
Connect with me on LinkedIn.