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Thoughts From the Trenches Part 1

Updates and some in sight from a current pharmacy technician student.

Before we get to our guest writer, I want to thank all of the visitors and members of Pharmacy Technician HQ. I appreciate all of the questions and positive feedback. I have not quite hit my PTCB test goals this past month, primarily because I have been studying my self. I took the BCPS exam (Board Certification in Pharmacotherapy Specialty) this past Saturday and it was tough (we’ll see if I even passed). I should be able to get back on track.

In the mean time, I have been emailing back and forth with Michael (I’ll let him introduce himself below). He is sharp and I thought it would be nice to hear first hand about his journey so far into a new career and training as a pharmacy technician. Sometimes it is nice to know we are on the same road as others.

“I suppose I should start off with a brief introduction: My name is Michael Hoenig; I’m 57 years old; and I’ve got more experience with Missile Instrumentation Electronics, Research & Development, Spacecraft, Satellites, Rocket Sleds, and Data Collection from every one of those fields than I can recall. (I built my first HeathKit project somewhere around ’67, when I was 12 years old.) I’m now attending Vatterott College in Omaha, Nebraska, in the process of changing my career path…

Why? Ah, yes, Why? — The eternal question…

Well, two and a half years of unemployment and “Sorry, you’re over- or under-qualified” can have a major effect on a fellow. With no happy medium, something’s gotta give.

It didn’t hurt when the Veterans Administration approved a new program for vets like me, back in May of this year. The Veterans’ Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) is providing a monthly stipend equivalent to the Montgomery G.I. Bill Education Benefit. But there’s a catch: I had to select a high-demand career from a list of a couple of hundred careers; fortunately, Pharmacy Technician is on that list.

But why Pharmacy Tech, rather than something computer/networking related? I’ve found that I have too much difficulty keeping up with the technology. And besides, I’m a Mac person and the whole world is still biased against those of us who swing that direction.

It also helps that my wife, Erin, is an RN of twenty-plus years who happens to be taking online courses to obtain her BSN, and eventually her MSN. Kinda nice to have an outstanding in-house medical reference to supplement the coursework, eh?

Now, Rob has asked me to write a few words (500 or so at a time!) as often as I have sufficient material, to dress up this fine blog he’s got going here. Hey, I don’t mind talking about myself now and again.

Vatterott has a good-looking course schedule; 9 x ten-week-long Phases. I say “good-looking” because I have nothing to compare it to. It feels good to me, and it fits my schedule very well. Actually, *any* training fits my schedule, since (as I mentioned before) unemployed people tend to have wide-open schedules.

Classes run from 0800 to 1200, Monday through Thursday, and the instructor for my first two Phases has been very good. He’s very easy-going and willing to work with students regarding personal schedules. As long as we get the assignments turned in more or less on time, he’s OK with that.

The Pharmacy Tech Course is set up so students can begin any time a new Phase begins; that provides an environment where any particular Phase may have students in their first through sixth Phase. I happened to have started with POA106, Medical Dosages and Pharmaceutical Calculations.

Trust me, folks, I was WAY ahead of that class before I walked through Vatterott’s doors. My AA in Electronics Technology, though it dates to 1981, included Planar Geometry and Calculus. I’m not dissing Vatterott or Pharmacy Technician training at all; it’s just that nothing in POA106 exceeded fifth-grade math. I pulled a 98.77 final grade (I made stupid mistakes like carrying a 1 in a multiplication problem; there was no 1 to carry).

I’m halfway through my second Phase: POA101, Medical Terminology and Human Anatomy; I’m getting some new knowledge, but it’s not as difficult as I had feared. I forgot to mention, my Mom was a nurse in the WAVEs back during WWII…yeah, I have some knowledge here as well.

We take our Midterm Exam on Monday (Oct 15) and I’m carrying a 99.01 right now. I don’t expect to hold onto that after Monday, but I’m kinda pleased with myself so far (I need all the back-pats I can get, even if I have to supply them myself). 😉

I’m kinda running out of thoughts today; if Rob likes what he sees so far, he probably won’t kick me off the site. …I’ve been known to be wrong on occasion…lol”

-Michael Hoenig

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