A group of Porter Ridge High School students in a Pharmacy Tech Class, part of the Career and Technical Education’s Health Science Program, are a prime example of UCPS graduates being better prepared for college and careers.
The pharmacy technician class is normally offered on the collegiate level, but at Porter Ridge, students have an added bonus. Those who take the class, which is reserved for seniors, are eligible to take the test for national certification.
“If they pass that national certification, they can get a job working in a pharmacy anywhere in the United States as a pharmacy technician,” said class teacher Edwina Baucom, pictured below left.
“This class is kind of like a pre-internship,” said Daisy Quach, a PRHS senior. “You get to experience what it’s like to be a pharmacist. We learn how to work with prescription bottles and how to separate types of medicines. We also get to do the retail part of the job.”
All faux medicines used in the class are designed to look and act like those used in actual pharmacies. “They’re all fake, but students can get the idea and the feel that they are really mixing the formulas and know how to measure things out,” said Tyna Gautreaux, PRHS’ Career Development Coordinator. “This class is going to help them get a step above someone who doesn’t have the experience already. The more opportunities we can give students to get ahead, the better.”
Anyone walking into the Pharmacy Tech Class might mistake it for an actual pharmacy lab. Students wear protective clothing, masks, head covering, gloves, eye protection.
Formulas are measured precisely using scales and placed into various sized medicine bottles, complete with labels. Most “medicine” made in class, such as the cherry-flavored cough medicine, are for educational purposes only and unusable.
There is one exception: Happy Hiney, a topical ointment used for diaper rash. Students use the actual ingredients pharmacists use.
Happy Hiney, the actual name of the product, starts with 90 grams of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and eight calcium carbonate tablets (Tums). The tablets are crushed using a pestle and mortar and then mixed with the Vaseline, which is divided into fifths. These are placed in small jars, layering them with Betadine antiseptic solution.
“It actually works,” said Porter Ridge senior Samantha Gerull. “What we make you can actually use on a baby. “It’s a simple solution, but they still prescribe it because it works.”
“I gave it to my niece,” said Porter Ridge senior Vinh Dao. “She uses it. It’s better than spending $35 for some brand name that is the exact same thing.”
Even though the pharmacy class does not result in college credits, Gerull said it does get students a little closer to their career goal.
“This class teaches us everything we need to know,” Gerull said. “This class, and all the classes that Ms. Baucom teaches helps us get a step further. We go into college already having the information; we have all the knowledge we need to pass a college-level class and to do well.”