From Farm to Pharmacy

Students enrolled in Tulsa Tech’s Pharmacy Technician program learn the science of pharmaceutical compounding, medication inventory procedures, and much more as they prepare for careers in a retail, apothecary, clinical, or hospital setting.

Katsy Smalygo, a Collinsville High School senior, became interested in this challenging health‐related program from the very first moment she heard about it.

“When I first heard about the Pharmacy Tech program, I was very interested,” Smalygo said. “And I began to think how this program would allow me to have a great job right after high school, and give me the option of pursuing a long‐term career, or possibly even help me pay for college later.”

The former president and vice‐president of Future Farmers of America (FFA) had already begun to develop a plan during her junior year, and she was hoping to find a program that would not only interest her, but also fit into this plan.

“As a junior in high school I was interested in exploring several of the one‐year programs offered at Tech.” Smalygo said. “Something that I might be able to take advantage of during my senior year. The Pharmacy Technician program not only fit into my plan, but also provided me with a great opportunity to work in the industry immediately after I graduate high school.”

Tulsa Tech’s Pharmacy Technician program is the only nationally-certified American System of Health‐System Pharmacist Association (ASHP), and completion of the program requires 600 hours of coursework and training, with 160 of those hours applied toward an externship, or on‐site clinical work experience.

“I really enjoy the program because it’s so much hands on,” Smalygo said. “And you actually get to do the work while you are learning the concepts.”

Students in this unique program began their clinical work experience in early February, and Smalygo is currently working on completing her externship at Walgreen’s.

“My work experience here at Walgreen’s has been very rewarding,” Smalygo said. “Everyone, both in and outside of the actual pharmacy, everyone in the store has been extremely helpful, and it has been a great experience. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to complete my clinicals here, and I have always felt like I am treated as a member of our team.”

According to Kari Gibson, one of Tulsa Tech’s Pharmacy Tech instructors, Walgreen’s has been a supporting partner since the program began.

“Walgreen’s has been there from the very beginning,” Gibson said. “They have supported our students, they are very involved in our community, and they have hired many of our students once they complete the training program.”

As a student, Smalygo feels her clinical work experience at Walgreen’s has not only given her the opportunity to work hands‐on within the industry, it has also provided her with added confidence while preparing for industry certification testing.

“I’m beginning to realize the training I have received is above and beyond,” Smalygo said. “I currently spend three hours a day, Monday through Thursday, here at the pharmacy, and several times technicians have told me that much of what we are learning here at Tech, they didn’t have the opportunity to learn until they attended college. So that gives me a lot of confidence as I prepare for both my national and state certifications, and hopefully a career within the industry.”

Citing the Collinsville senior’s performance to date, Gibson feels her student will definitely succeed in whatever path she chooses.

“Katsy is a class leader,” Gibson said. “She never backs down from a challenge, she is a member of both FFA and HOSA‐Future Health Professionals, and she has been awarded a scholarship from Bacone College Equestrian Program. Whether she is barrel‐racing or making straight A’s, I have no doubt she will go far in life and accomplish whatever she puts her mind to.”

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