Island Health is working with Selkirk College and Vancouver Island University to create a 15-month program that trains students to become pharmacy technicians.
The “three-way partnership” sees students learning from a mix of online courses taught by the mainland-based Selkirk College, as well as in-person lab classes taught at Vancouver Island University.
The program also includes ten weeks of practicum in a hospital and community setting to allow students to experience what it’s like to work at a pharmacy or other health-care setting.
Island Health says the new program gives local residents a chance to learn about and work in their own health authority.
“Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in both hospital and community pharmacies,” said Island Health board chair Leah Hollins in a release Wednesday.
“They perform essential duties related to prescription processing, medication packaging, compounding medications, and ordering and tracking of inventory,” she said. “Additionally, in the hospital setting, they interview patients to ensure an accurate list of medications is available to the health-care team.”
Island Health says the average starting salary for a pharmacy technician is $50,000, with openings currently available at hospitals, long-term care homes and community settings on Vancouver Island.
Nanaimo resident Ainslie Horwood says she was interested in the new program since it helped her stay close to her roots on the Island.
“I was originally attracted to the program because I could do the schooling online from my own home in Nanaimo, travel a short distance to Duncan for the lab work, and stay in my hometown while completing my practicums,” she said in Wednesday’s release.
Island Health says applications are now open for the program’s next intake, with classes starting in August.