Pharmacy Technician Students Learn in New Mock Cleanroom

June 29, 2016 -- A new mock cleanroom for CNM’s Pharmacy Technician program at the Westside Campus gives students a better opportunity to learn how to make sterile products for patients and become more desirable to employers.
Pharmacy Technician Students Learn in New Mock Cleanroom

Jun 29, 2016

“It’s a designated area where students wear gowns, masks and protective equipment,” said Bill Havins, Pharmacy Technician program director. “Having this knowledge to make sterile products makes our students very valuable in the workforce.”

The Pharmacy Technician program is vigorous. After completing a series of prerequisites, the students take a sequence of classes over two terms, learning how to take prescriptions and fill them under the supervision of a pharmacist. They do many of the same things a pharmacist does, except tasks requiring professional judgment, such as counseling patients and performing a final check of the medicines to be dispensed, Havins said. 

Once students complete the certificate program, they can work in a hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy, mail-order pharmacy and in specialty pharmacies where they compound sterile products that patients use at home. The students are initially introduced to the medicines in a room that looks like an actual pharmacy setup, complete with pill bottles. The only difference is that pills are all placebos; they look like real drugs but they aren’t.

“The portion of the program the students like best is the hands-on clinical practicum, where they spend 112-and-a-half hours in one practice setting and another 112-and-a-half hours in another,” Havins said.

The program used to be located in the JS Building on Main Campus but was moved to the Westside in 2008. It started out with one cohort. Last year a second was added. Sixteen students will graduate this summer, and nine just started this term and will finish up in December.

In order to obtain their Certified Pharmacy Technician credential the students must take one of two national certification examinations.

CNM’s Pharmacy Tech Program is the only program in New Mexico accredited by the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists/Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ASHP/ACPE). Unlike many of the for-profit schools, CNM’s program is very affordable, Havins noted.

The program has two full-time instructors, including Havins and Cynthia Sanchez, clinical coordinator. Two part-time faculty also teach in the program.