Life Before and After Pharmacy Technician
By Nilda E. Lum, BS Chem., CPhT
Having worked for 30 years as a chemist, one might say I could see the light at the end of the tunnel toward retirement. This is how I feel when I look back at all those years.
I used to work full time as a project chemist with a good paying job. However, with high salaries come tremendous responsibilities, a lot of job-related stress, and can make anyone unhappy. I got a wake up call when my cousin’s husband who retired 2 years ago at the age of sixty passed away suddenly with heart surgery complications.
As the old cliché says “life is too short” and one should enjoy life to the fullest. Knowing I needed to make a change, I quit my job after working there for 10 years.
A few years ago, when the economy started to decline, and many people were losing their jobs, I was working at an engineering consulting company as a part-time chemist. Unfortunately, the company began to downsize and I was laid off. I stayed at home for a while and became “a lady of leisure”. A year and a half later, I felt I was missing something. One could only do so much in a day at home, and then everything becomes routine. Boredom soon took over. Since I still have several productive years before retirement, I decided to do something new but somehow related to my profession. I applied at Kaiser Permanente for a pharmacy technician position and learned that I needed to be certified before getting hired. I was told that there are two ways to be certified: Apply to the Pharmacy Board by sending your college transcript of records and have the board evaluate the curriculum if it satisfy the requirements for certification, or enroll in a school that offers Pharmacy Technician course.
I took the latter route and enrolled at Charles A. Jones Skills and Business Education Center in their Pharmacy Technician program. At my age, it was a challenging experience to go back and be one with the younger generation. I had to study harder and often till the wee hours of the morning. As a student, I was treated with respect as a colleague, an extended mother (Mom), and one of my classmates addressed me as her “Grand Mama”. After graduation in June 2004, most members of our class still maintain communication thru e-mail and/or phone calls. Some of us still see each other and go out to dinners, sightseeing trips to SF, a picnic in South Land Park, and thru professional meetings.
At present, being a certified and registered pharmacy technician has opened tremendous opportunities which landed me a job at River City Pharmacy and Home Care Services as an infusion pharmacy tech, UC Davis Medical Center as an on-call pharmacy tech II, and at Escalante Solutions (Longs Refill Center) as a part-time pharmacy tech. As a member of the CHSP Sacramento Valley Chapter, I had the opportunity to attend seminars for continuing education and to participate as a volunteer for the Poison Control Prevention Week 2005 to educate school children about poison prevention. Whenever I meet potential students who are uncertain about their future profession, I encourage them to try and pursue a career in pharmacy either as a technician or a doctor of pharmacy. A career in pharmacy is a very rewarding profession and certainly essential as part of our aging society that needs support to maintain their health and well being.
My ultimate goal is to become a pharmacy technician instructor in a community college or vocational/technical school. I would like to motivate, encourage, and guide the students to attain their goals, to enrich their lives, and to contribute to make a better society.