Omaha Benson High School, UNMC team for pharmacy tech program

Students at Benson High Magnet School and its Health Professions Career Academy can get a head start toward becoming a certified pharmacy technician through a unique cooperative course from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy, beginning this fall. 
The program is another way UNMC is working to address the health care workforce needs of the state, said Judy Neville, director of the College of Pharmacy's pharmacy technician program. 
"There is a high demand for pharmacy technicians," she said. "Employers are excited to grab on to these soon-to-be newly trained high school students." 
Certified pharmacy technicians work in all types of pharmacy settings, including hospitals, compounding and home infusion, veterinary, long-term care facilities, mail-order operations and community pharmacies. 
Angela Johanek, a career academy specialist at Benson High, is enthusiastic about the partnership. 
"This course opens up a whole new door for these students, where they may not have seen themselves before. And that is life changing," she said. 
Though certified pharmacy technicians must be 18 or older and have earned a high school diploma or GED, these students can work toward certification while still in high school, Neville said. 
The students will take part in the College of Pharmacy's regular online pharmacy technician curriculum, under the supervision of Benson faculty. The students also will participate in three hands-on training labs at the UNMC College of Pharmacy. 
The course is built upon promoting patient safety through self-awareness, core concepts and expanded ideas that optimize pharmacy workflow. 
Components include pharmacy-specific abbreviations, medication labeling requirements, medication error prevention, inventory control, safekeeping scheduled drugs, prescription orders workflow, teamwork and legal responsibilities, Neville said. 
Those who go through the course should be ready to complete the final steps to earn official pharmacy technician certification upon high school graduation, Neville said. 
It's exactly what Benson's Health Professions Career Academy was looking for, Johanek said. 
"We work to align all specialty course curriculum with the professional community, and advisory members like UNMC, to make sure that the skills and units of study match what the adult world expects of our students from technical terminology to work-based experience," she said. 
"We will be providing access to an additional career path that our students may not have known about until now," Benson science teacher Elijah Dacy said. 
That's a win-win for these students and their future employers, Neville said. "We're opening a new employment stream to the pharmacies in Omaha and in the greater Nebraska area."
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