Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy is an integral part of a new public school program that trains high school seniors to be pharmacy technicians.
The pharmacy school’s Director of Admissions Katelyn “Katie” Miller Sanders ’11, Pharm.D., MBA, and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences Gina Peacock, Ph.D., both have provided input on the curriculum for the Frederick County (Va.) Public Schools’ Pharmacy Technician Academy and also sit on the academy’s advisory board.
Dr. Sanders said she became involved with the program after meeting Frederick County Public Schools’ Supervisor of Career and Technical Education Mary Beth P. Echeverria, Ed.S., at a dinner hosted by Shenandoah President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. The pharmacy school’s role just grew from there, with it being part of the program’s development from its inception to today.
The high school students study at Shenandoah’s Health Professions Building on the campus of Winchester Medical Center every other school day, Sanders said. They learn about a wide range of subjects, from math to pharmacology to compounding.
The students received their white coats in a ceremony held at a December Frederick County School Board meeting. The event essentially marked the halfway point for students in the two-semester, certified, accredited pharmacy technician training program.
The first semester of the program is spent entirely in the classroom, Sanders said. In the spring semester, students have the opportunity to use some of their newfound skills in community settings.
Students will take a national certifying exam in May, Sanders added.
About half of the students studying in the four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program offered at the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy have some kind of pharmacy technician experience in their past, Sanders noted. And, the Frederick County program helps students gain such experience quite early in their career decision-making process, she said.
Two students spoke about the academy before the school board during the white coat ceremony. Sanders noted, proudly, that the students mentioned not only the academic and vocational skills they’ve developed in the program, but also how they’ve improved skills such as communication and cooperation.
The new program was made possible by support received by Frederick County Public Schools from the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation. All of the students involved are Claude Moore Scholars.