Grad Q&A with Pharmacy Technology graduate Ronald Staten
After several years at a retail job that was supposed to be a temporary situation, Ronald Staten had a ‘What-am-I-doing-here?’ moment. In his youth he bounced between family members while earning some college credits and figuring out that what-do-I want-to-be-when-I-grow-up question. That answer never quite took shape, so he burned too many years in a holding pattern that threatened to curb his potential.
When Ron finally snapped to attention and decided to do what was needed to have a dependable and lucrative career, he knew one thing for certain. It would have to be a career with an accelerated education and training program. Now what?
What was your plan of action?
I’m an impatient person, so I just Googled ‘trade school’ and went for the first one I saw. SJVC. I wanted something really different. I’d heard Pharmacy Technicians made good money, so I was basically sold on that. My research showed potential income way above minimum wage and that you could also work in prison settings, making even better money.
That environment (prison) is not intimidating to me at all. I’ve always been adventuresome, and I feel like I’m pretty comfortable wherever I am.
I enrolled in SJVC’s Pharmacy Technology program in Lancaster without visiting the campus. Because of Covid, a lot of the classes were online studies. But the in-person classes definitely helped because there are some things you don’t instantly get, so that was a good balance.
What was the trigger point for you to go back to school?
Realizing I don’t like this (retail) job. And I wanted to solve that big problem on my own. I work really hard to be independent and making that commitment felt good. It was me taking control. I’d let auto-pilot play too long and now I had to be more present in my life.
Growing up I was a sheltered child, and a lot of decisions were made for me. I just rolled with a lot of things and didn’t get a chance to think. It was just me off in the clouds. Now, I had to be here, and I had to be aware of what was going on.
Did you find a support system in your Pharmacy Technology program?
I’m the type of person who doesn’t really ask for help. If I had a test coming up and I was stressed, I’d have a moment with myself to be stressed. It wasn’t really all that stressful, and I was really self-motivated to make this change.
I’d always gotten As in school and if something didn’t come easy, it was frustrating for me. But you have to persevere until you hit your groove. Focus on the end goal. Complete this to get to a better place.
What kinds of things stressed you out?
In class we did ‘mock pharmacy’ every day. Everything was set up just like a real pharmacy where we would be counting pills and putting them into the corresponding vials. I was horrible at that. With my personality, I’m wild and will draw outside the lines. But in this, you have to be accurate and take your time. So, I had to get used to being precise. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to suck at this job!’. There is a triple system at each level to make sure everything is accurate and correct. But I finally got my groove and mastered it around the end of my externship (on-the-job training with participating businesses). I was like, ‘Hallelujah!’
Any big surprises in the program?
Because I came into the program not knowing anything, everything it did have to offer I took as a bonus. I was just grasping it all and going, ‘cool’.
I found out there are a lot of other things a Pharmacy Tech can do. You can work in an outpatient pharmacy, inpatient pharmacy, or you can do it from home, which is basically talking with customers about their prescriptions. And just because you’re not strong in one area doesn’t determine that you’re not going to find your groove in another part.
What was the best thing about the Pharmacy Technology program environment?
I had an amazing teacher, Mr. Landaverde. He is laid back but also very knowledgeable. His wasn’t one of those classes where the teacher talks and talks and you’re falling asleep. He made the experience really interesting. He was good at listening and answering questions, and he was relatable. He got students more engaged, and we could have an honest conversation about more than memorization and work.
What was your job search like toward the end of your program?
I wasn’t just thrown out there on my own. Brittany Stewart was my Career Services Advisor and she was awesome. She helped me with my resume and set up interviews and constantly had job leads. She reassured me that I always had support.
I was applying for maybe three jobs a day and wasn’t getting that many calls back. I would do interviews then hear ‘We’re moving on with another candidate’, or not hear anything at all. Then I did an interview, set up by Brittany, and a day went by, then they called to say I was hired. Celebration, definitely.
How is the new job?
I started in August (after completing the Pharmacy Technology program in July) as a Pharmacy Clerk and when my license goes through, I will become a Pharmacy Technician. Right now, my main responsibility is doing mail-out of prescriptions. Accuracy is definitely important. I also have deliveries, using mail, UPS and a carrier service. It’s a mixture of ringing up in-person customers and taking phone calls from patients or nurses about patients’ medications. I also make sure we have ice for drugs that have to be kept cold.
What advice would you give to others looking for career inspiration?
Pushing the envelope has always been my thing. You have to climb out of that bucket to get where you want to go.
I’d ask, ‘What do you want from your life?’ Don’t compare yourself to others because their life is different. You can look up to another person, but it’s more just kind of looking within.
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.