Vancouver Community College delivers skills needed to work as licensed pharmacy technician

August 16, 2018

By Charlie Smith, Straight News |

Vancouver Community College’s school of health sciences has a hands-on, 30-week program to train students to become licensed pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy technician Despina Staikos had always had a passion for science, so it made sense for her to enroll in a university biochemistry program.

But after a while, she concluded that this wasn’t going to lead to a career, so she left university and found a job as an assistant at a pharmacy. That’s when she realized she could develop a career in that industry.

Staikos heard great things about Vancouver Community College from her peers, so last year she enrolled in the 30-week, full-time certificate program to become a regulated pharmacy technician.

Prior to her graduation in July 2017, she did her practicum at Royal Columbian Hospital. She quickly found a job at Vancouver General Hospital and also works at the B.C. Cancer Agency.

“We had this prestige being VCC students because people in the field know that VCC students are held to a really high standard,” Staikos says. “We receive a really high level of education.”

Pharmacy technicians are licensed by the College of Pharmacists of B.C., so Staikos is permitted to prepare, process, compound, and conduct final checks on prescriptions. She can also take patient histories.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing right now,” she says. “I’ve never had a bad day at work.”

One of her VCC instructors, Wayne Rubner, says the program consists of 22 weeks of classes and an eight-week practicum. There are 20 seats for each program, with one running from September to April. Another starts in January, and a third intake occurs in May.

Rubner points out that about 60 percent of the students’ training is activity-based, with much of this taking place in simulated community and hospital pharmacies at VCC’s Broadway campus.

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