Open slots available in tuition-free pharmacy tech course that aims to fill need, help C.O. students succeed

Published January 24, 2023 7:11 PM

'Many health care institutions and pharmacies ... can't get enough of them through the door'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Long lines at the pharmacy seem to be normal nowadays, amid staffing shortages. There's a growing need for pharmacy technicians in Central Oregon, with dozens of postings online, looking to fill those roles.

Now, there's a new local effort to ease the crunch, with an online training program.

 The Central Oregon Health Council recently gave a $75,000 grant to workability LLC for the online program. As of now, 11 people are enrolled and they have more than a dozen spots still available. Students in the program so far range in age from the mid 20s to 60s.

"I think a lot of technicians, like many of us, experienced burnout during the pandemic -- experienced significant burnout," workability founder and Managing Director Sheila Salido Jordan said Tuesday,

With the grant, workability is offering free online coursework, a printed copy of the Barron's study guide, and weekly virtual study sessions with a licensed pharmacist. 

Aaron Emmel is the founder and program director for Pharmacy Tech Solar.

"Many health care institutions and pharmacies can't keep enough pharmacy technicians, and they can't get enough of them through the door," Emmel said. 

There are dozens of job openings for pharmacy technicians in Central and Eastern Oregon.

Jordan added, "Front-line individuals were really struck by, you know, a mass of demand."

Workability LLC owns and operates a job board and recruitment advertising platform. 

"It started to dawn on me that there was an opportunity to provide training, particularly to Madras, Prineville, and La Pine," she said. "There really aren't that many opportunities for health care career training." 

Workability's goal is to connect inclusive employers with job seekers of all abilities. 

Emmel said, "There hasn't been an issue getting people interested in enrolling. I just think it's the demand for pharmacy technicians that's so high right now, even with good numbers of people enrolling in programs like the one we offer." 

Participants are given six months to complete the 150-hour program; that's 10 to 12 hours of online coursework and studying per week. 

"Everything is designed to help them succeed," Jordan said. "If they are able to complete the program, the next step is for us to help them prepare their application, and we will pay for the cost of their state license application." 

According to Indeed, the average salary for a pharmacy technician in Oregon is about $22 an hour. 

If you want to find out if you qualify for the free training, here is the announcement, with requirements.