INDIANAPOLIS — With three approved COVID-19 vaccines, there’s a huge demand for pharmacy technicians to help administer shots.
WRTV met the students working to fill the demand at Ivy Tech Community College. Over 225 students are working to get their Pharmacy Technician certificate during the 2020-21 school year.
That includes Nehemias Rodriguez. He said, “I lost my previous job. I was actually a dental assistant, and everything shut down.”
Like many Hoosiers, he needed a new job. Rodriguez said, “So, I needed to find something to where, it would not shut down, and everyone needs their medication.”
This program is designed to teach students the fundamentals of becoming a Pharmacy Technician.
“When you go to you know your pharmacy, your CVS, or Kroger, you see them push a button on a machine and pills come out. And you think well I can do this. Yes, it’s a lot more than that,” said Rodriguez.
He said it’s a challenging but high-demand position. Pharmacies like CVS are hiring pharmacy technicians and giving them the training to administer COVID vaccines.
“There’s a shortage of pharmacists to actually do that. So, in order to train pharmacy techs in order to help administrate vaccinations, eases the load on the rest of the medical community,” said Rodriguez.
Now students are lining up to help. Terri Fleming is the Department Chair for Ivy Tech Community College’s Health Care Specialist Program.
She said, “Retail pharmacies, we hear from long-term care pharmacies, we hear from hospitals.”
Fleming said the pandemic pumped the breaks on getting new pharmacy techs into the community, nearly a three-month delay.
“We cannot supply enough. We are trying, but we definitely we definitely are trying to make sure that we get some really good graduates from the program so that they can get out there working,” said Fleming.
So, how are students who recently graduated doing now? We spoke with Anu Anthony, who now works as a full-time pharmacy technician.
“I love it I love my job,” said Anthony. “It didn’t even take one month for me to get a job after I graduated.”
Pharmacy Technician instructor, Heather Miller said students who are going through the program still take virtual classes at home, before coming here to the lab.
“Actually, it has been a better process because they are learning all of the material beforehand,” said Miller.
While in the lab, in-person learning looks different with more than just hair nets and scrubs, there are masks, gloves, and more sanitization.
It’s no placebo program, with hands-on training for all students.
“We actually have to get in there, get dirty, and really do the work,” said Pharmacy Technician Student Christina Wilhite.
Wilhite said she hopes that she and her fellow students are just the prescriptions to help the community back to pre-pandemic life.
“Just know that we are working hard for you to make sure you’re safe and that in the future we can get out, back, and about,” said Wilhite.
Rodriguez said, “doing our part for the community and also it’s a job; it’s a good-paying job.”
Ivy Tech’s also expediting the process, to get more Pharmacy Techs out in the community. It still has a sixteen-week program that you can complete as quickly as one semester. However, Ivy Tech added a summer group of students, along with the other two groups that are already part of the certificate program.
If you’re interested in the pharmacy tech program, you still have time to enroll. The next set of classes start on March 22. For more information on available jobs and campus to career programs, visit ivytech.edu/healthcare-specialist.