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Seminole State to offer Pharmacy Technology and Management Program in Fall 2012

Seminole State College

Seminole state college

To accommodate the growing need for pharmacy technicians in Central Florida, beginning in August 2012, Seminole State College of Florida will launch a Pharmacy Technology and Management degree program.

"The specialty pharmacy sector has become a key, growing segment of the Central Florida economy," says Angela Kersenbrock, associate vice president of the college's School of Career and Professional Programs, "and there are not enough people who have the skills to work in these pharmacies. Our new program, based at our Altamonte Springs Campus, can help fill this tremendous need by training up to 120 students per year."

Seminole State College will become the only public college in Central Florida offering a comprehensive pharmacy technology program approved by the Florida Board of Pharmacy.

The new program will use the sophisticated simulation labs shared by all of the college's healthcare programs at the Altamonte Springs Campus. In addition, pharmacy technology students will benefit from a state-of-the-art lab dedicated to their specialty.

Seminole State's program will offer two routes into this fast-growing industry, which is expected to generate about 250 job openings a year in Central Florida during the next five years:

  • An Associate in Science (A.S.) Degree in Pharmacy Management
  • A Pharmacy Technician Applied Technology Diploma

And because Seminole State is a state college, the program costs about one-third the price of a comparable education at a private or for-profit college, Kersenbrock says.

The four-semester diploma program "is more community-based," says Cheryl Cicotti, associate dean of healthcare programs. After passing the national board certification exam, graduates will be able to work in retail pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS.

Graduates of the two-year A.S. degree program who pass the national exam will be able to work in hospital pharmacies and specialty pharmacies, including the innovative new biotech companies now in the Orlando area, Cicotti says.

The pharmacy management degree also will give graduates the option of transitioning into a baccalaureate program at Seminole State or one of Florida's universities.

"Once they take some other courses, students may also apply to pharmacy school," says Dr. Nagi Youssef, the pharmacy technology program manager.

Youssef, an M.D. and certified pharmacy technician, says that pharmacy technicians' responsibilities have increased because of a change in Florida law.

"Pharmacists are being asked to spend more time with patients because Florida has a big population of retired people," Youssef says. "Many are taking 10 to 15 medications and need counseling for all of them. As pharmacists do more counseling, pharmacy technicians are the ones handling the prescriptions, taking the phone calls, doing the compounding and maintaining the inventory. The skill set is more advanced."

"Over the last decade, Central Florida has become the nation's leader in specialty and biotech pharmacy," Cicotti says. "More than 12 specialty and biotech drug-focused companies are headquartered or conduct significant operational activities in the area."

Specialty and biotech pharmacies prepare medications that typically require special storage and handling.