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.”

Pharmacy Awareness Month event at Sutherland Campus is a success

The display for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by Pharmacy Technician students
The display for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by Pharmacy Technician students

The Pharmacy Awareness Month celebration at Sutherland Campus on Tuesday, March 14th was a success!

Pharmacy Awareness Month is celebrated every March to educate Canadians about the profession, and provide information on what healthcare services and advice pharmacists and technicians can offer. For their Field Prep course project, Fleming Pharmacy Technician students partnered with community healthcare professionals and/or Fleming students in related disciplines to deliver a unique, complimentary service to the Peterborough community.

“We had the best turn out ever with many people who came to the campus specifically for a service being offered,” said Pharmacy Technician program coordinator Amanda Mushynski. “I expect that it will only get bigger and better each year. It really demonstrated how Fleming College values inter-professional collaboration and education.”

For the Pharmacy Awareness Month event, students and community volunteer professionals delivered free education and services on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Therapeutic Touch Therapy, Heart Health, Mastectomy and Bra Fittings, Breast Self-Exams, Massage Therapy, Indigenous Medicine and Healing, Holistic Nutrition, Yoga, Nutrition, and more.

Heart Health display
The Heart Health display by Pharmacy Technician students

The Heart Health display was hard to miss in the Sutherland Campus main foyer, with a fun photo booth, cookies, and the opportunity to check your blood pressure. “The project was definitely a lot of work!” said Pharmacy Technician student Camryn Walker. “It takes time to do a display like this, but we wanted a photo booth to draw people in and get attention.”

Donny Watson, Paramedic with Peterborough County/City Paramedics, volunteered his time to partner with the Heart Health group.

“It’s good to promote health within the college-level, as that’s where you can start spreading healthy lifestyles amongst the younger generation,” said Donny. “Taking blood pressure is an easy risk-factor to assess. Some people don’t know they have high blood pressure and it’s just a matter of taking it. It can start as early as your early 20s.”

Marleen Jenkins also volunteered her time to help share information with the public. Marleen is a certified bra fitter and wig fitter at My Left Breast.

“There’s not a lot of information out there for women looking for this,” said Marleen, who does bra fittings, lumpectomy and mastectomy bra fittings, and wig fittings. “This also goes beyond just a bra fitting. One client came in and talked to me for three days before she could be fitted after her diagnosis. After the three days, she was ready to do the fitting. The unfortunate thing I’ve seen is the young age of the women who are coming in.”

Pharmacy Technician student Amber Nicholls worked with Marleen for the My Left Breast display. Through the project, Amber was surprised to learn how many women are not wearing the right bra for them. “It’s surprising how many people don’t wear the right bra size. They’re uncomfy, spilling out… I’m surprised,” she said. “It’s a matter of awareness. And awareness that you don’t have to struggle alone for mastectomy bras and wig fittings, and services.”

The Pharmacy Awareness Month event not only helped provide health information to the public, but it also helped Pharmacy Technician students develop their project management skills.

Pharmacy Technician student Robyn Peterson, who worked with Moksha Yoga on the Yoga & Mindfulness display, said the experience has been rewarding. “Through this project, I’ve learned how to approach people to participate, I’ve improved my organizational skills, and I’ve learned that there’s so many people in the healthcare community who want to share information with others,” she said.

Pharmacy Technician students plan Pharmacy Awareness Month celebration

Event poster (click to enlarge)
Event poster 

Second-year Pharmacy Technician students are busy event planning this week in preparation of the Pharmacy Awareness Month celebration on Tuesday, March 14th at Sutherland Campus.

Pharmacy Awareness Month is celebrated every March to educate Canadians about the profession, and provide information on what healthcare services and advice pharmacists can offer. For their Field Prep course project, Fleming Pharmacy Technician students partner with community healthcare professionals to deliver a unique, complimentary service to the Peterborough community.

Students and community volunteer professionals will offer free education and services from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Sutherland Campus main foyer on Tuesday, March 14th. This includes information on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Osteopathy, Heart Health, Mastectomy and Bra Fittings, Breast Self-Exams, Massage Therapy, Indigenous Medicine and Healing, Holistic Nutrition, Yoga, Nutrition, and more. For a full list, please visit the press release. All are welcome to attend this event.

Pharmacy Technician student Robyn Peterson
Pharmacy Technician student Robyn Peterson

“We’re working with other members of the community who are involved in healthcare, and sharing information with people who visit the event,” said Pharmacy Technician student and Team Leader Robyn Peterson, whose team is working with Moksha Yoga. Robyn said the Moksha Yoga display will feature yoga demonstrations, information on the health benefits of yoga, and samples of David’s Tea.

“Through this project, I’ve learned how to approach people to participate, I’ve improved my organizational skills, and I’ve learned that there’s so many people in the healthcare community who want to share information with others,” said Robyn. “I hope those who attend the event gain knowledge of what’s available to them in the community. There’s a lot of things healthcare professionals in the community can provide information on.”

Program coordinator Amanda Mushynski agrees and is looking forward to the event. “This event is a great opportunity for students to develop project management skills,” she said. “Students are responsible for sourcing a volunteer, and arranging meetings and appointment times with their volunteer in order to complete a project plan.’

‘Pharmacy Technicians are often depended on to connect patients with supports within the community. Our students are gaining the confidence and knowledge to feel comfortable connecting patients with services such as Meals on Wheels, nutrition, massage therapy, respiratory therapy, etc., ensuring continuity of care,” said Amanda. “We hope to see you there!”

Natalie Horlin says being a pharmacy technician is more than ‘counting pills’

natalie horlinGrad Highlight: Natalie Horlin, Pharmacy Technician, Class of 2016

“I currently work as a Pharmacy Technician Applicant at the CHEO — Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario as well as at Kanata Pharmasave, a local community pharmacy here in Ottawa. As a pharmacy technician, it is our responsibility to do the technical aspects of the pharmacy job. This means I help with interpreting and inputting prescriptions, preparing and dispensing medications, ordering and receiving medications, and providing device demonstrations. Another job that I am responsible for is taking a medication reconciliation of a patient, meaning it is my responsibility to find all medication a patient is taking once being admitted into the hospital. Being a pharmacy technician is much more than just counting pills!

I think Fleming’s education helped me obtain my job, as they provided me with the proper education I needed. Knowing that Fleming’s Pharmacy Technician program is an accredited program through CCAP (Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs) was also a big factor. This means that CCAP views Fleming as a school that meets national standards for entry into pharmacy technician practice, which assured my employers that I received the proper education needed to become a pharmacy technician.

Before attending Fleming, I graduated in 2014 from Trent University with a Bachelor of Science Honors in Biology, and loved every moment of my four years at Trent. I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field of some sort, but knew I could not be a nurse like my mom; so after working in a local pharmacy in my hometown of Kanata, I knew it was the right fit for me. After being in Peterborough for four years because of Trent, it just seemed fitting to stay in Peterborough for another two years to complete the Pharmacy Technician program. I had also heard great things about the program and the college, and felt comforted in the fact that I knew the city. Overall I had a great experience with Fleming, the staff at Fleming is great and so is the environment of the school, and I was able to meet lots of people and develop new friendships because of Fleming.

I was fortunate to complete both of my placements at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in both their community and in-patient pharmacies. Being able to work in a pediatric hospital allowed me to enhance my knowledge of the importance of patient-specific dosing, I also found the experience very rewarding knowing that I was able to help these children who are sick in a behind-the-scenes way. Although technicians are not front-line care workers, we still do play an important role in patient health care.”

Amber Kuehl shares her Pharmacy Technician program experience

PhotoAmber Kuehl graduated from the Pharmacy Technician program this June, and recently completed her program placement at Pembroke Regional Hospital. Below is her Fleming College journey:

“I want to become a Pharmacy Technician because I am a very social person and love helping others– knowing that I am helping others puts a smile on my face. I also like educating patients so they can help themselves.

I chose Fleming College because I heard good things about the Pharmacy Technician program from previous students, and participating in Orientation Day the teachers and staff made me feel very welcome and I thought it would be a good experience. The teachers and staff in all departments were very helpful, and would give you the support you were in need of.

I believe field placement was very helpful towards my education. I know for myself, I am a hands-on, visual learner, and once I physically do something I understand the concepts much better.

My experience at Pembroke Regional Hospital was incredible. The pharmacy and hospital staff were very welcoming, and were all very good teachers that I have learned a lot from. Being able to gain experience at Pembroke Regional Hospital is a dream come true. I’d say my most memorable experience at my field placement is knowing I am helping make a difference in patients’ lives.

My career goals for the future are to complete my SPT, Jurisprudence, and PEBC exams to obtain a Registered Pharmacy Technician position in a hospital setting, and to work with little or no supervision in a fast paced environment with strong knowledge of pharmacy technology practice. I will pursue being an IV pharmacy technician with strong knowledge and experience of aseptic technique, IV infusion admixture, and chemotherapy to the hospital or retail setting.”