Marie Vigil, Pharm Tech Student, is Leading her Class to Success

Jessica Reinhardt, Pharmacy Technology instructor at Carrington College in Albuquerque, nominated Marie Vigil for the student spotlight because of her excellent leadership. “Marie demonstrates leadership by helping others in need, and by planning and setting up study sessions with the entire class,” Jessica says. “She’s an exceptional student and mentor, supporting new students and coordinating study guides with classmates on a weekly basis. The students even meet outside of class on their own time, creating a support system that has helped many of them successfully complete the program. Marie is a military spouse and has also recently received the WIOA grant—another amazing accomplishment.” Marie is set to graduate in July of 2022; here, she shares more about her study and career path.

What did you do before you enrolled in the Pharmacy Technology program at Carrington College?

I was a stay-at-home mom; my husband is on active duty with the United States Army.

What made you want to become a Pharmacy Technician?

I had been wanting to go back to school for a while, and I heard about the program from my mother-in-law—who went to Carrington for the Massage Therapy program—and from my sister-in-law, who went for massage but is now enrolled in the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. She and I had wanted to enroll in the ADN program together, but I wasn’t sure; I knew I wanted to work in the medical field, but I wanted to do something that was less hands-on than nursing. My sister-in-law suggested I look into Pharmacy Technology. I saw it on the Carrington College website, then went to the campus and spoke to an advisor; before I knew it, I was enrolled. I am enjoying the program, and Jessica is an amazing teacher.

What is your favorite part of the program so far? What has been the most challenging?

I really like the hands-on aspect; I learned a lot doing hands-on in the lab—it helps the information really sink in. I am sure that in the next module, in externship, I will be in a hospital (I’m hoping for UNM) or retail setting, and that hands-on experience will really help. The most challenging aspect of the program is trying to memorize and become familiar with the drugs and the laws that deal with it and preparing for the PTCB test. We have to know the top 200 drugs, brand and generic names, which drugs are prescription or controlled, etcetera—that is the challenging part. Every week we get a list of about ten medications to learn, then we have a chart we must be familiar with and understand special considerations for certain drugs. There are 80 to 100 drugs on the final exam.

You recently received a WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) grant; how did this come about?

WIOA is through workforce solutions; it’s something I qualified for as a military spouse, and you must meet certain criteria to apply. I had to attend an orientation and it takes some time and effort to apply—but it is well worth it, because through this grant, I can go to school for a career that will provide for my family, and basically will have almost all of my education paid for. I would advise anyone interested who qualifies to apply; don’t be discouraged by the time or effort it might take!

How did you become a student mentor?

During the first module of the program, I just tried to be helpful with fellow classmates in any way I could, such as helping with the math portion, which came easier to me. I made sure to be on time or early to class. Soon we started a group message chat and an off-campus study group. Many of my classmates are younger, in high school or in their early 20s; I am 43, going back to school, and some of them told me they looked up to me. Jessica took notice of this and asked if I wanted to be a mentor. I did, of course, so filled out the application. I still hold a study group or meet up at Starbucks, work together on assignments, things like that.

Do you feel the program is helping you prepare for your first Pharmacy Technician job?

So far, I feel like it’s preparing me; I’m in touch with a friend who is at UNM (hospital), asking what to expect, she says a lot of what we learn in class hands-on is like what she does at her job. I asked if she thought that working at a pharmacy was helping the information click, she said yes, seeing medications on a day-to-day basis and actually doing it helps the knowledge really stick. The more I learn, the more I’ll be one step ahead. I think that what I have learned and what Jessica has taught me are things that matter; she tries to make sure we really understand before we move on. I feel like if I ever have any questions, she is there for me.

What would you tell someone who is just beginning the program, or someone who is thinking about enrolling?

I would tell them that in the beginning, it might seem overwhelming. It’s a lot of information, there’s a lot going on; for me, I’d been out of school for 20 years and it felt very overwhelming. I’d say take it one day at a time and one step at a time; you will get a routine, just stick with it. If you are willing to put in the extra effort, it will all fall into place. The instructors give you the info, you have to elaborate, you have to look into it more. Use your time to study; I go to school, and when I’m home, I just use every little moment I can to study; I put my medication chart above me while I’m cooking, for example, and keep glancing at it. Don’t rely just on what the teacher is telling you, take the initiative to work hard—just give it your all.

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