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May Nguyen and Ryan Ly pursue Pharmacy Technician career path together


May Nguyen and Ryan Ly at Timmins and District Hospital

In their home country of Vietnam, May Nguyen and Ryan Ly said they are “supposed” to get married and settle down at their age, but the couple didn’t conform to societal expectations.

Instead of following the traditional path, May and Ryan flew to Canada to take the Pharmacy Technician program at Fleming College together. 

“Ryan had to convince his family members to let him study abroad and I was lucky to have my family fully support me with my future plans,” said May, whose father is a licensed pharmacist and successful pharmacy owner in Vietnam. “I have matured into the field of pharmacy throughout my life and find it one of the most rewarding careers available to driven individuals.”

Ryan, who is excited to have a career helping others, agrees.

“Being a Pharmacy Technician and giving a helping hand to people who need it the most is a very respectful and honourable mission,” said Ryan. “I know that although it requires a lot of responsibilities, it pays off with people’s gratitude.”

The couple experience “cold weather, warm people” in Canada

The couple were excited to move to Canada for their studies, despite never having visited the country before. One activity they particularly enjoy in Canada is walking the beautiful trails at Sutherland Campus in Peterborough, where they look for foxes, birds, snakes and bunnies.

“[Canada is] huge landscapes, beautiful nature, nice people, hockey, maple syrup, meatballs, and… it’s really cold! Brrr!” said May. “But we have experienced ‘cold weather, warm people’ here, as all of the people we have met are friendly and kind.”

They describe their classmates as friendly and helpful, and their faculty as professional, knowledgeable and caring.

Fleming’s applied learning prepares May and Ryan for the real world

The applied learning offered in the Pharmacy Technician program at Fleming College, including a pharmacy lab environment as their classroom, is a huge asset to the couple. They explain that students have the opportunity to practise everything from filling and checking prescriptions to non-sterile and sterile compounding, with faculty support through each step.

“This program has really prepared students with the knowledge that they learned in class and lab to go out into the real world. We are already very confident in our skills and techniques that we learned,” said Ryan.

May and Ryan applied their knowledge and skills in the real world during their field placement, which they completed at Timmins and District Hospital (TADH). At TADH, they:

  • packed unit dose and distributed floor stock
  • checked IV medications and reordered when necessary
  • audited narcotic and controlled drugs
  • assisted nurses with tracking medications
  • maintained complete, accurate and secure patient records
  • managed medication incidents or discrepancies
  • medication reconciliation
  • helped in the dispensary
  • returned medication
  • contributed to pharmacy inventory management process.
  • non-sterile compounding, collaborated with Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacist in product label verification, participated in independent double-check process and more.

Ryan Ly at Timmins and District Hospital, where he felt like a healthcare professional during his field placement.

“As an intern, I enjoyed the real-life application of what I was learning in school,” said Ryan. “The best part was talking to patients and preparing their medications. Also, working 40 hours a week allowed me to become close to the team at TADH. They all treated me with respect and helped me grow in my knowledge of the hospital pharmacy setting. I finally felt like I was a healthcare professional and someone on the way to becoming an expert in my field of practice.”

May said this experience gave her the opportunity to network and develop her teamwork skills.

“Everyone jumps in, they just do what’s necessary to achieve excellent patient care,” said May. “Also, this placement provided networking opportunities. We have always been taught that pharmacy is a small world, and I may be working with these people again in the future.”

Field placement leads May and Ryan to employment at Timmins and District Hospital

May and Ryan were both offered positions at TADH after their field placement, on the condition that they pursue licensing after graduation. They are currently In-Patient Pharmacy Assistants and will later become Registered Pharmacy Technicians.

May Nguyen loves that this career path makes an impact on individuals, families and communities.

“No other profession will provide the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life the way a job in healthcare can,” said May on what she loves about this career. “Your work will impact individuals, families, and sometimes communities because you will be assisting healthcare practitioners with treating diseases and ailments, and play an important part in the patient’s well-being.”

The couple are graduating from Fleming College this June and are excited to grow their careers. May’s advice to current students is to never stop learning, even after you graduate.

“The world of pharmacy is changing and is driven mainly by the interests of the patients as they become more aware of their health, especially with easier access to healthcare,” said May. “Be aware of current events and how they might impact the healthcare field. Keep adapting and preparing for whatever changes lie ahead.”