Kimberly enrolled on the Pharmacy Technology program at the Carrington College Boise, ID, campus in September. When we spoke in May, Kimberly was in her final module and preparing for her externship at a local hospital in Boise; assuming all goes well, she will complete the program after July 11th.
Thanks for your time Kimberly; please give us a brief introduction.
I was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. I’m 31 years old and I moved to Boise last June; I’m new to the area, but I absolutely love it. I was actually working on my certificate in Pharmacy Technology at a community college back in Vancouver, but during a visit to Boise I just fell in love with the area and the people, they’re all so friendly. I decided to make a lifestyle change and move here. Within a few weeks of moving I met my boyfriend Jacob, and then I found Carrington. It’s been a good year, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It’s been amazing.
Have you always had an interest in health care?
I guess you could say that the health industry is in my blood; my grandmother and my mother were RNs [registered nurses], and my sister is a CNA [certified nursing assistant]. Prior to starting school I worked for a medical claims clearing house; I processed claims for various doctors’ offices and hospitals throughout the country. It was pretty interesting; I liked the job but I didn’t feel fulfilled, something was missing. That’s why I decided to take the leap in to Pharmacy Technology.
Why Pharmacy Technology?
Not to get too personal, but we’ve had some health issues in my immediate family, my mom in particular. When I was younger it seemed that the drugs that the doctors prescribed her weren’t helping; I got more and more frustrated because I wanted to be able to help my mom. I wanted to understand how all these drugs interacted with each other, and with certain foods and vitamins she was taking. So that pretty much sparked my interest in medications and pharmacy.
So you weren’t tempted into a nursing career like your mom and grandmother?
Not so much. I heard stories from my mom; she worked in a Geriatric ward, and it would touch her deeply when patients passed away. I’m quite an emotional person generally, so I didn’t feel that I’d be able to put up the wall that you need to be able to care, but carry on. I wasn’t sure I’d be strong enough.
Let’s focus on the upcoming externship for a moment; what do you want to get out of it?
I guess to broaden my knowledge beyond what I’ve already learned at Carrington. And to see the inner workings of a real pharmacy. No matter how many simulations you do at college, I don’t think you ever really learn that. You don’t discover the nuances of how things work until you’re in it for real.
Within the hospital I’ll get to shadow a Pharmacy Technician; they get assigned a floor each shift, the ICU, ER, or Maternity for example, and that’s where they’ll work for the day. I’ve watched hospital shows like ‘ER’ and ‘Chicago Hope’ all my life, but to actually be there and get that breadth of experience and fulfillment will be priceless.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned on the program?
I suffer from migraines quite often. When we touched on migraines and the different medications available, and how they interact with the body, I found that all really interesting.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about yourself on the program?
I learned that I’m a harder worker than I thought! With my previous job, I knew I could get my work done, but I wasn’t really pushed. I didn’t realize that I could put the ‘pedal to the metal’ and attain my dreams. This is my dream. I wanted to show my boyfriend’s sons, my future children, that if you work hard and put your mind to it, you can achieve your dreams… instead of just settling for something.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve changed about yourself during the program?
There wasn’t really anything I wanted to change. I just wanted to see if I could reach my dream of being a Pharmacy Tech. I wanted to see if I could do it, if I put myself to the test. I can; anybody can if they’re willing to put the effort in. That’s what I wanted to show the boys – if you try, you can achieve anything.
Tell me three things you wish you’d known about the program when you started?
- I knew it was an accelerated program, but I didn’t appreciate just how much work was involved. Everybody is different; for some it will seem easier than others, but it does take a lot of time. But I’m investing in my future, so it’s a good thing.
- I didn’t realize exactly how much lab work we would be doing; I thought it would be mostly bookwork and lectures, but I’m extremely happy with how much lab time we have. It’s been really helpful; without all that hands-on time I don’t think I’d be as confident in my abilities as I am now.
- The first week of our core classes I was nervous as can be, there was a lot of information to take in. I thought I was going to pull my hair out. For example, I didn’t know how the exams would be structured. But there was really no reason to be as nervous as I was – I wish I’d known how manageable it would be, once I got into the flow of it all.
Where do you hope to be in your career three years from now?
I hope to be employed at the local hospital pharmacy where I’m going for my externship. We actually took a tour there not too long ago. Prior to that tour I was still on the fence between working in a hospital or a compounding pharmacy. But during that tour I was “sold” on working in a hospital environment; the educational and career opportunities are amazing.
I love to learn new things and meet new people and I guess I felt I could meet my goals better in a hospital setting. I’m also thinking about studying to become a Pharmacist. I want to get my feet wet as a Pharmacy Tech first, but maybe in three years I’ll be enrolled in a Pharmacist program. You never know!
Tell me about your support network at home…
I’m so thankful to Jacob and his three sons for their support, love, motivation and everything they do for me. I wouldn’t be able to do this without Jacob that’s for sure. I’m just so grateful. My mother and twin sister are extremely supportive too; we don’t talk all the time, but whenever we do they ask about school. Their interest really means a lot to me.
What’s the single biggest piece of advice you’d give to Carrington students just starting out?
Don’t give up. There are people everywhere to support and help you; try not to get discouraged and go down the negative road towards giving up. Everyone at Carrington – fellow students, staff and professors – are there for you. They’ve got your back.
What would you do with your time if you had an unexpected afternoon off?
I love to read; if the weather’s nice, I’d probably grab a book and go sit underneath a tree in a local park. It sounds kind of corny but it helps me relax. If it was raining, I’d probably be found cleaning my house!
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