Okanagan College’s pharmacy technician certificate program has achieved national accreditation through the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP), and is now one of six post-secondary institutions in B.C. to have successfully navigated the rigorous review process.
“Pursuing accreditation was driven by changes to the pharmacy technician profession and a shifting regulatory environment,” said Michele McCready, Okanagan College program administrator.
“To become a regulated pharmacy technician, the College of Pharmacists of B.C. requires that individuals must complete a program that meets national accreditation standards. It was important to Okanagan College to achieve that standard and provide students with the education they need for their careers. Now, we’re busy getting ready for our first intake of 15 students in the revised program this April.” As pharmacists shift into providing more clinical care, pharmacy technician functions are expanding in scope and complexity. Where previously, all pharmacy tasks related to prescription processing, compounding and preparation were the responsibility of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians are able to take on those important roles.
“It’s an exciting time for pharmacy technicians. Our profession is really changing and accreditation is part of that,” explained Janny Jung, a Vernon pharmacy technician and Okanagan College alumna. “We can do so much more now. There are greater responsibilities, and more opportunity. It’s a varied and interesting career.”
The pharmacy technician certificate program is popular with students, leading to job opportunities in a growing profession in just over six months. Students spend 20 weeks on campus before undertaking two four-week practicums. Program graduates then move into structured practical training in preparation for writing two national exams that lead to designation as regulated pharmacy technicians.
The two separate practicums are a key feature of the program, with students spending four weeks in a community pharmacy and four weeks in a hospital setting.
“The two practicums allow students to familiarize themselves with very different work environments,” said Jung. “With that experience, students can decide what setting is a better fit for them. In community pharmacies, there’s lots of people interaction. In a hospital setting, there’s more preparation of medications and much less interaction with clients.”
“It’s a career that stays interesting and challenging for technicians,” explained Jung. “The pharmacy technician program was awesome. I was really well prepared, and since then I’ve become a regulated technician, and follow up with mandatory continuing education credits each year. I’m always learning.”
Applications are now being accepted for the pharmacy technician certificate program starting this April.