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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Hesperia instructor truly gets the Pharmacy Technician career path

December 22, 2016
Pharm Tech instructor Jillian Ramirez
Instructor Jillian Ramirez wants Pharmacy Tech grads to know exactly what their work environment will expect from them.

Jillian Ramirez has wanted to be a Pharmacy Technician since she was in 7th grade. Everything about that career appealed to her young mind. “I loved the white lab coat, working in healthcare, but not touching anybody, making sure people were taken care of with appropriate (pharmaceutical) treatment,” she says.

She put her college plans on hold when she stumbled upon a Pharmacy Clerk position for a chain store pharmacy just after she graduated high school. Jillian absorbed all she could about her new-found field and after 9 months, was promoted to Pharmacy Technician.

“In those days, you could actually ‘grandfather-in’ and didn’t have to go to school to become a Pharmacy Tech,” says Jillian. “The pharmacist sponsored me and I got my license; no exam.”

Jillian spent almost 20 years as a Pharmacy Technician and worked with many recent Pharm Tech graduates and externs about to start their careers. She was troubled by how many of those who came for real-world experience discovered they simply could not handle the fast pace of a busy pharmacy.

“A lot of externs came through my pharmacy who were not prepared for what they actually had to deal with,” says Jillian. “There were ones that showed up one day and never came back. I felt so bad for them.”

There are stresses involved in working with the public – many of whom are sick, irritable or confused about their medications, prescriptions or insurance coverage. “Sometimes we’re the bearer of bad news with insurance, and you’re multi-tasking with phones ringing while someone’s at the counter, maybe upset and taking it out on you. It’s a lot of problem-solving that they were just not prepared to do.”

Jillian saw enough disheartened Pharmacy Technicians to want to do something about it. “I wanted to be on the front end, helping the students to be better prepared for the real world and what they’re really going to see,” she says. “What you’re going to see in the field is a lot different from what you learn in a book.”

So, without much planning, a teacher was born.

One day, Jillian stumbled upon an online ad for a Pharmacy Technician program instructor at SJVC’s Hesperia campus. “Hmmm, I wonder…,” she thought.

Six years later, Jillian has prepared many Pharm Tech students for the real world of the career they have chosen. They go into their roles with eyes wide open and eager to face the challenges of their profession.

“Jillian Ramirez is the most helpful instructor ever,” says Pharmacy Technology student Becky Xiong. “She always makes sure her students are getting the correct information, and she goes out of her way to help a student who is struggling. She has patience on making sure her students understand what she is teaching.”

“I try to make sure that our class has some energy to it,” says Jillian. “I don’t like quiet in the room. We try to have as much conversation as possible – we feed off each other. If I don’t show that energy, they aren’t going to show that energy.”

There is a lot of memorization at the core of the Pharmacy Technology program. Names of medications are often long, their treatments complicated and dosages precise. “I create games to build up students’ memory for drug names and generic names, brand and indication, or what it’s used for,” says Jillian. I have them perform their ‘drug song’ in front of the class (alone or part of a group). It’s important to have fun in the class.”

“Jillian has created a PT program culture on campus where the students care for one another as they grow into the professionals they are striving to be,” says Richard Matley, Campus Director. “She is passionate about the students and the field of pharmacology.”

Occasionally, Jillian loses one of her students to family crisis, financial demands or overwhelming obstacles. “Recently a student broke her leg, another had a lot of illness,” she says. “Sometimes it is an uncontrollable situation, like a death in the family.”

Recently, one of her students returned after taking a leave of absence when her father died. “I was just really excited that she followed through and came back,” says Jillian. “She had some difficult times in the beginning, but is doing really well now.”

Although Jillian strives to prepare her Pharmacy Technology students for the real-world of their chosen field, she does not want them to ever misunderstand the depth of responsibility and importance of professional communication they must undertake.

She wants them to realize the effort they must make, personally and professionally, to get there. Her favorite quote from an unknown author: “If it’s important to you, you will find a way; if it’s not, you will find an excuse.”

Her students are finding a way each and every day.

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