Clark’s new pharmacy lab replicates real-work experience

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Columbia Credit Union Simulation Pharmacy officially opens with ribbon-cutting ceremony

Dixie Fisher was a stay-at-home mom with six children when a storm flooded her home and forced her family to take shelter in a hotel for eight months. With time on her hands and her job prospects bleak, Fisher visited Clark College to learn about a Pharmacy Technician program she had heard about.

A year later, Fisher, 36, is in the last quarter of the program. She spoke about her experience September 30, during a naming ceremony of Clark’s new simulation pharmacy.

More than forty people gathered at Clark College at Washington State University campus in Vancouver for a ribbon-cutting event for the Columbia Credit Union Simulation Pharmacy. The celebration honored the community credit union for its $65,000 gift that led to remodeling the 500-square-foot pharmacy and purchasing new lab equipment and supplies.

Pharmacy technicians are in high demand because of the large number of locations that employ technicians and an aging population who require care. In the state of Washington, more than 1.2 million residents will be age 65 and older by 2020, according to a Health Care Skills Panel convened by the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council.

Sixteen states in the nation require certification for pharmacy technicians, and only six require licenses. Washington is one of the six that mandates a license, said Dawn Shults, Pharmacy Technician Department head.

Clark’s Pharmacy Technician program relocated to Clark College’s building on the WSU campus last year. The space has expanded the program’s footprint and enhanced the college’s quest to be the premier Pharmacy Technician program in the region. The new lab allows students to practice skills and simulate activities they will encounter during on-the-job pharmacy settings, such as setting up sterile IV bags and packaging medications.

Clark College President Robert K. Knight and Columbia Credit Union President Steve Kenny cut the ribbon signifying the official opening of the simulation pharmacy.

Robert Knight and Steve Kenny

Clark President Robert K. Knight and Columbia Credit Union President Steve Kenny cut the ribbon for the new pharmacy lab.

“We appreciate our community partners that bring that margin of excellence to Clark College,” said Knight, adding, “Columbia Credit Union is a partner we can always count on.”

Kenny said the bank has served the community since 1952. “We are proud to support higher education.”

He added a personal story about his son, a Clark alumnus, who began as a Running Start student, enrolled in a medical program at Clark and is now a licensed X-ray technician “who, at 26, just purchased his first home. Education truly makes a difference,” said Kenny.

Meanwhile, Fisher has set her sights on landing a job as a technician with Kaiser Permanente where she’s been interning, and perhaps returning to Clark one day to teach in the program.

Clark’s graduates can earn a certificate or an associate in applied technology degree and be workforce ready in a year. They can transfer to Central Washington University for a bachelor of applied technology degree in business management.


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