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Workforce Development

Pharmacy technician

The pharmacy technician program at Johnson County Community College has received a rare six-year accreditation from the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP).

“Accreditation is for one, two, three or six years,” explained Phil Schneider, director of pharmacy services for Olathe Medical Center and treasurer of the ASHP board. “A first-time, six-year accreditation is a rarity.”

JCCC’s program began in the fall semester of 2012 an effort to fill the growing need for trained technical help in area pharmacies.

“Johnson County (Community College)’s program is still in its infancy, of course, but the college produces nationally recognized health programs,” Schneider said. “With the process JCCC has undertaken, technicians will be able to hit the ground running in hospital pharmacies and in retail pharmacies.”

Terry Rehder, director of the pharmacy technician program at JCCC, said the long-term accreditation shows the quality of JCCC program.

“The college has the facilities to provide a valuable learning experience and the reputation to create a strong, accredited program,” he said. “The location, in a metropolitan area, also makes it fairly ideal because of the large number of pharmacies needing assistance.”

A mock pharmacy in the Regnier Center helps students develop real-world skills they need to assist pharmacists in filling prescriptions; compounding and mixing medications; working with patients and insurance companies; and delivering medications for at-home use. Classes are taught by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with a wealth of professional experience.

Rehder said the program is relatively rigorous, but employers know that they are receiving knowledgeable technicians when they hire graduates from JCCC.

The pharmacy technician program runs for 32 weeks over two college semesters, followed by a 300-hour externship, of which 150 hours is spent in a hospital pharmacy and 150 hours is spent in a community pharmacy. Classes include anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and medical terminology. For more about the program, visit the certificate program page online.

Rehder said the demand for highly trained pharmacy technicians will grow as pharmacists are expected to have more patient interaction, leaving technicians with a greater workload than merely general support.

“With the advent of Obamacare, more people will have access to health care, and more people will want health care,” he said. “The projected shortage of primary physicians will mean pharmacists will be stepping out behind the counter and spending more time providing patient care.”

Already in California, laws have been passed to license pharmacy practitioners as physician extenders, Rehder said, and that legislation will make its way across the United States.

“It’s exciting to have a pharmacy technician program already in place at JCCC,” Rehder said. “I have no doubt that more demands will be put upon technicians by federal and state laws. The practice of pharmacy is dependent on technician support.”

Rehder said he suggests a pharmacy technician certificate to people who want to help others and who have the discipline and ability to learn complex information and store it for quick retrieval.

For more information on the pharmacy technician program, contact Rehder or Penny Shaffer, program director of health and human services for continuing education, at (913) 469-8500 ext. 3140.

Students must be selected for the program. Applicants must be 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, pass a basic competency test and complete other various enrollment procedures. Interviews for admittance in fall 2014 continues through mid-August.