Jenny Nguyen, a third-year earning her BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences, sits down with PharmSci to talk about becoming a Pharmacy Technician while maintaining a full-time schedule as a student.
How did you become a pharmacy technician?
During my first year, I wanted to get a job, but only after I was able to get used to my academics first. I waited until winter break and began studying for the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE). During that time the Pre-Pharmacy Society at UCI sent out an opportunities email for a pharmacy technician position at my local independent pharmacy. So I applied to work there and was accepted, but my pharmacist told me that he wanted me to become a pharmacy technician within the next few weeks. I had barely started studying, but I said I would try my best and studied for the next 2 weeks before taking the exam, and luckily I passed. I then applied for my license and that’s how I became a pharmacy technician. However, I would recommend studying for the exam for at least a month so that you’ll be able to retain more information and know the material better.
What is it like managing a job along with school?
Working as a pharmacy technician while going to school at the same time can definitely be a lot. During my first year, I was working around 16 hours a week, which I found to be too much. So now, I’m working once a week since I’m also managing my extracurriculars along with school, which has been a lot better for me.
How has being a pharmacy technician prepared you for your future goal in going to pharmacy school?
It was definitely good for me to go into a pharmacy setting to get some experience before going into the field, which is why I got the position in the first place. I wanted to know what it’s like and if I’d really like it. However, it is still just a small piece within pharmacy. There’s so many other things you can do in pharmacy, but I think it’s still really beneficial to get some experience. Working as a pharmacy technician, I was able to learn a lot of the processes like filling prescriptions and about the medications themselves. I’m still in the process of learning what all the medications do because it is a lot, but my pharmacist helps me often and sometimes quizzes me about them. I would recommend working as a pharmacy technician for those interested in pursuing retail pharmacy because you can learn a lot of the basic responsibilities and see what the pharmacist’s role is in a community setting.