From Hardships to Healing: How Tayler Pimentel’s Journey Led Her to Empower Others in Pharmacy Technology

Tayler Pimentel moved from California to Idaho with her family when she was in her very early teens. She had to grow up fast, work hard, and take on a lot of adult responsibilities right out of high school due to her mother’s bout with cancer. That experience was difficult, and it was also the catalyst for her to go to Carrington College to become a pharmacy technician. She spent several years working for an inpatient hospital pharmacy after graduation serving the needs of patients and training other pharmacy techs before returning to Carrington to teach. In her private time, she enjoys her pets and gardening, where she can grow medicinal plants that she incorporates in the classroom for compounding lessons.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Up until my teen years, I grew up in Victorville, California. That is in Southern California, but not the area that most people associate with Southern California. It was kind of a rough area in the Mojave Desert. My family woke up one morning with graffiti on the inside of our retaining wall. That was a little too close for comfort and we eventually ended up moving to Idaho fifteen years ago. I’ve been here ever since. I’m an avid gardener who is really into landscaping and permaculture, which is a big job. We even use some of the medicinal herbs that I grow in class. I also have tomatoes, lettuce, and onions growing right now. There is also a lemon tree. As far as pets go, I have two dogs and both are around one-hundred-pound Great Pyrenees mixes. I also have cats, rats, and chickens. I know it sounds like I live on a farm, but I don’t. I’m in a suburban area not far from downtown Nampa, which is about twenty miles outside of Boise.

How did you enter the field of Pharmacy Technology?

When I graduated high school, I was seventeen. I was working two minimum-wage jobs because my mom had cancer and was divorced, so she couldn’t work and didn’t have an income. My little sister was still a minor. Medicaid was covering my mom’s treatment, but I needed to cover everything else for our family. I was driving my body into the ground working both jobs and I still couldn’t get ahead. I got to a point where I needed to figure something else out for making money. I was looking at schools and looking for a trade. I have to be honest, I closed my eyes and picked something off a list. Then I went on a tour of the school and within less than 48 hours I was a student. It happened very, very fast.  

Why did you choose Carrington in particular?

I chose Carrington’s Pharmacy Technology program because they were the most responsive and they seemed genuinely happy to see me. I toured one other school and I didn’t feel like they were sincerely welcoming. I had worked so hard and made so many sacrifices to get to that point in my life. I wanted to go to school somewhere I felt like I belonged and was supported.

When did you graduate?

I graduated in 2014.

Where did you work after graduation?

My Carrington instructor was a retired pharmacist from St. Luke’s healthcare system. With her recommendation, I was able to get a position at St. Lukes’s and work in the inpatient pharmacy. I stayed there until the end of 2019.  

Was teaching something you had hoped to do when you were a student?

Teaching wasn’t something that I was looking to do back when I graduated. Then, the former campus director emailed alumni with the job posting around the tail end of 2018. I was already working full-time as a pharmacy tech in a hospital and helping run my husband’

s drywall business, but I decided to apply. It was an impulse decision. I interviewed, got the position, and started teaching in February 2019.

How have your experiences in the field and as a student informed your teaching?

My hands-on experience at St. Luke’s informs my teaching. So do Carrington’s high standards and the support they provided me as a student. Something I like about Carrington is they want people who have been involved in the positions teaching them. This means that an experienced pharmacy tech teaches aspiring pharmacy tech students. Being a trainer at St. Luke’s for almost five years has also helped me a lot with teaching. I trained a lot of staff during that time.

Do you have a favorite subject that you teach in the Pharmacy Technology program?

Nonsterile compounding probably is my favorite subject. It’s one of our most difficult subjects because there is a particular way that you have to do things to stay in compliance. I think I like it so much because the intensity challenges me and the students. Then there is something in the field referred to as “best practice.” A best practice is based on the idea that even if there are multiple ways to complete a task, one may be better or more effective. I take the time to teach my students best practices even if it takes longer and requires more fine-tuning. That is more challenging, but I enjoy it.

Do you learn from your students?

Yes, always. My classes are small to medium-sized, so I can get close to my students. I am always finding new ways for them to study and learn. I also work hard to motivate them.

What do you think Carrington provides pharmacy tech students that they wouldn’t find elsewhere?

The curriculum standards are exceptional and there never is an idle moment. We fill every moment with new knowledge. From what I have seen and heard, I don’t see that in other places. We also can tailor learning to different learning styles. That is why I was successful and why our course is so successful.

Would you say your program provides support and encouragement for students who might need accommodations or additional assistance?

Yes, we do everything we can to support our students. If a student is struggling with something like sterile compounding, for example, I have open office hours all week and they can come to me for help. We also have an academic tutor they can visit and online tutors that are available 24/7. We even have programs to help students with things like legal assistance, housing, utility assistance, and mental health counseling. Carrington also provides students with a couple of sessions with a personal assistant who can help them with things like booking transportation to visit a sick relative or planning a birthday party for their child. The personal assistants make arrangements on behalf of the students so they can focus on school.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The ability to help change people’s lives. The students are doing the work, but it is as if they are trying to dig a hole and I hand them a shovel. They probably could have figured it out on their own, but it would have taken longer and been more difficult. I like being one of the people who help them find the tools that they need. One of the best things is having a student complete the program and tell me that they didn’t think they’d ever make it that far. It is gratifying to help them see that they have what it takes to complete the program.

How did Carrington prepare you for your career?

My instructor helped me know what to expect in different types of pharmacies and that helped me zero in on where I would fit. I knew I wanted to be in a hospital and that a retail setting wouldn’t be right for me. It often takes trial and error through different positions for pharmacy techs to figure out their best work setting, but I was quickly successful in the pharmacy at St. Luke’s thanks to the insight I received from my instructor.

Do you have any advice for people interested in going into pharmacy technology?

I would recommend looking beyond what you see out in public. I feel like a lot of people when they think of pharmacy technology, think of frontline workers at Walgreens, Rite Aid, and other retail counters. For some people, that’s where they belong and that’s fantastic. But if that’s not where you want to work, it is still a career worth pursuing. And if you don’t want to be in a hospital potentially working overnight shifts or weekends, that’s okay too. There are a lot of different opportunities in pharmacy tech. Some PTs even work office jobs. There are many different options and continuing education exists for additional fields. Pharmacy is an enormous field with many different settings that you can work in that most people don’t see from the outside.

Do you have any last words for those considering Carrington College?

I think there is a good reason why we have been a school for so long. We look at our students as real people and not just numbers. We provide all of the academic and personal support our students need to succeed and achieve their goals. Also, the hands-on educational experience we provide our students is unlike anything they would find anywhere else. We are here to do everything we can to help our students learn and achieve their goals.

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