Anthony, Charter College in Palmdale California

Before coming to Charter College and enrolling in the pharmacy technician program, Anthony M worked fast food jobs and looked into various schools, hoping to eventually find a meaningful career. "I first thought about becoming a pharmacy technician when I was at a pharmacy with my mother picking up some medication for my aunt. We were impressed by the young technician who waited on us and my mother made the comment that I would look good working there," he said. After seeing a Charter College flyer, he called the school and enrolled.

The first few months of attending school did not go well for Anthony. "I bombed on my first four tests," he said. After getting a serious pep talk from his instructor, Ms. Shaunta, Anthony decided to start focusing on his education. "I told him that in a pharmacy, if you’re not focused, you could kill someone by giving them the wrong dosage of medication," said Ms. Shaunta. With renewed determination, Anthony started to get A’s on all of his tests and became a team leader in his class.

Anthony then started his externship and was assigned to a CVS Pharmacy in Palmdale. When he first walked into the pharmacy and saw the high shelves full of medications and products and the long lines of people waiting for their medications, he started to feel nervous. "I thought that this pharmacy was crazy," he said. "I was confident in what I had learned at school, yet knew that there was still a lot to learn."

His first major challenge was to learn how to work with the staff. At this particular pharmacy, there were three pharmacists. "One of the pharmacists would tell me that if you don’t know, ask.  He said, ‘I would rather have you ask me than I have to fix your mistake.’ One of the other pharmacists was very kind and the other one left me alone. She did not like questions at all."

Another challenge was to learn how to deal with customers. "There’s going to be really nice patients and then you’ll have some that are rude. I had to learn to smile, apologize and make them feel like you’re doing everything you can for them."

Anthony remembers one particular experience where he went above and beyond for a customer. "She was a cancer survivor with high blood pressure and was paying $70 per day for three pills. I spent two days on the phone with her insurance company and they kept denying it for ridiculous reasons. After numerous long and boring calls, I was able to get her 90 pills approved for free, which is a one month supply. When she came into the pharmacy with a sad look, I told her that I had some great news and that her medication was approved and she would not have to pay. She started to cry. I then understood why I was there and what I had signed up for."

Anthony has also had other experiences where he impressed his pharmacist by helping customers with their insurance issues. "I now have clients who specifically ask for me. One lady left the pharmacy because I wasn’t there and said she would come back when I was there."

His advice for new students in the Pharmacy Technician program is to learn the top 200 drugs. "I can’t emphasize how much this is going to help you. Also, read up on your high blood pressure and diabetes medications. At least 60% of our customers are diabetics."

After impressing the staff and pharmacist at CVS Pharmacy during his externship, they asked him to stay as a full time employee. CVS was going through a temporary hiring freeze but made an exception for Anthony. "I overheard my pharmacist talking to the head pharmacist and he said, ‘we’re keeping this one. Come out here for one day and watch him and you’ll see why.’ This job is a dream come true and everything has fallen perfectly into place for me. Charter College rocks!"

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