In 2020 the Alabama Board of Pharmacy required that pharmacy technicians registering with the board take a board approved program or pass a board recognized pharmacy technician certification examination within 6 months of registration.
Lawson State Community College now offers a non credit board approved program.
Key Facts about this program are as follows:
The program is 16 weeks in length
- 4 weeks of Ready to Work training on soft skills, interviewing (student receives a certificate of completion for this portion)
- 8 weeks of instruction on the role of Pharmacy Technicians in the State of Alabama
- 4 weeks of pharmacy externship
The first session in 2020 will begin in April at the Bessemer Campus of Lawson State.
For more information regarding price please contact Lawson State at the following email
Crestwood Pharmacy and Soda Fountain is a great small business in Birmingham, AL. And the patrons of this independently owned pharmacy receive quality pharmaceutical service and care.
Taylor: Neither of my parents were able to go to college, so they encouraged my sisters and I to attend college.I had a variety of interests in math and science but narrowed it down to healthcare because I am compassionate and wanted to help people in my daily job.I had a couple of interests within healthcare and got a job at a chain pharmacy in high school. I loved the patient interaction and stuck with that chain all through undergrad, pharmacy school, and even a short time as a pharmacist.
Taylor: I always dreamt of owning my own place eventually, but did not pursue that in school. I just worked at the chain and got through school.I never worked in an independent community pharmacy but had an idea of what I wanted to create.I was intrigued in the old-school way that had all but disappeared. After working for several independently owned compounding pharmacies, I decided to take a chance and do it my way.
Sam: Who are the Pharmacists that have influenced you the most and why?
Taylor: Cynthia Doggett hired me when I was 17 at the chain. I was an idiot and acted like a teenager but she stuck with me and taught me a lot. She showed me what it meant to be a professional, and how important it is to be detail oriented, and how to build meaningful relationships with our patients. I have worked with her off and on since 2003.Kelley Millwood is another. She was just a year ahead of me in school and we knew each other then… but we worked together at a compounding pharmacy and she had prior experience and taught me a lot about compounding.Kay Guess. I had a rotation with Kay in a specialty pharmacy in my last year of pharmacy school. She took me under her wing and taught me the world of specialty pharmacy, which eventually led to a job in that area of pharmacy. She and I both, have since left the specialty pharmacy world, but I am thankful for her teaching me so much during that season. I have a better understanding of specialty pharmacy now and can guide my patients in our community to the pharmacy they need if we can’t serve them in those certain situations.All of the pharmacists I mentioned; they all have a really strong work ethic and don’t quit until the work is done.
Sam: What would you like the readers to know about you, your pharmacy, and the services you are currently providing to the community?
Taylor: We are a full service community pharmacy. We offer traditional retail prescription services along with non-sterile compounding, immunizations, and free delivery. We have a good selection of otc products and some natural and local products as well. In addition to the medical side, we are also doing our twist on the old school Soda Fountain.We have ice cream and old fashioned soda and hope to add food eventually.As far as the community piece goes; my wife, son, and I live in Crestwood South — which is about half a mile from the pharmacy.We hope to be here for a long time.
Taylor: Find an area of pharmacy that you love. There are many options for types of work as a pharmacist and it was hard work and costs a lot of money to become a pharmacist, so do something you love.I love seeing the profession grow and seeing the different types of jobs that pharmacists have. I am Excited to watch the provider status topic and even some prescriptive authority perhaps.
Taylor: I love camping, mountain biking, hiking, music, food, coffee. I would love for everyone to come to the pharmacy and get to know us. Come have a cup of coffee or milkshake!
Images obtained from: Crestwood Pharmacy and Soda Fountain Facebook Page
Classroom Content for this course is as follows:
Training materials prior to externship:
Externship Content for this course is as follows:
September 10 2019 Lecture on Lesson 1 —
September 18 2019 Review of Lessons 1, 2, 3, and 4 in preparation for Exam 1 —
Part 1 of September 18 2019 session
Part 2 of September 18 2019
September 24 2019
October 2 2019
prepare for exam: 25 questions, multiple choice
Lab PDF: Lab PDF Session for 2019 Students
I will upload my personal lecture audio under this post throughout our 8 weeks together.
The lesson manual includes content covering 8 lessons, quizzes, previous final exams, and information pertaining to how to conduct yourself on externship. Please use this manual as your guide to complete this course. It will take both in class and out of class studying to complete each of the 8 lessons. Each lesson should take you at least 4 hours to cover.
Please refer back to the lessons as needed.
I will not print lessons, it is up to you to follow the material accordingly. The links are below.
Classroom to be used: Ethel Hall Building – Room 201
Time: 9:00am – 10:30am
PDF’s for download:
May 1, 2019 Lecture on Lesson 1 :
May 7, 2019 Lecture on Lesson 2:
May 14, 2019 Quiz 1:
Quiz 1 will be given on May 14, 2019. You will have 45 minutes to complete the quiz (9am – 945am). There will be a brief break and then a review of the quiz by your instructor for the remainder of the class.
Quiz 2 for May 15, 2019 will be rescheduled. We will instead cover Lesson 3 and go into more depth review of the material thus far. We will also have a lab to get hands on knowledge of the material covered.
Homework — please continue to keep studying the top 200 drugs from your text. You should now be memorizing pages 4, 5, and 6 of the top 200 from your workbook.
The class average for quiz 1 was 68%.
May 15, 2019
May 15, 2019 Audio Part 1:
May 15, 2019 Audio Part 2:
Quiz 2 will be next Wednesday May 22, 2019 over the top 200. Use previous quizzes from last year to study for Quiz 2. There will be 75 questions on quiz 2 and you will have 1 hour to complete the quiz.
To receive extra credit on quiz 2, please look over the top 200 and type up a summary on 25 drugs of your choice. For each medication — list the brand name of the drug, the generic name of the drug, the classification of the drug, and the body part the drug acts on.
For example… ProAir HFA is an inhaler and is classified as a respiratory agent, the generic name is Albuterol HFA and the body part that the drug acts on is the lungs. The drug acts in a manner to open the airways so that a person can breath normally.
If you type up 25 drugs and do it as I’ve asked you, you can receive up to 25 points extra credit on quiz 2. Remember, it must be typed!!! And you must turn this in on Tuesday May 21, 2019 to receive credit.
Please continue to look over the externship material. Sign the final page of the agreement, informing me that you’re committed to a 40 hour externship, and please talk to DHR and/or JCCEO to inform them of your intentions to become a registered pharmacy technician — you need to be registered prior to going on externship. This costs $103.
Tuesday May 21, 2019 we reviewed Lesson 3 and began covering Lesson 4. We finished the first problem in Lesson 5. Please work on the second question in Lesson 5 and read Chapter 6.
Audio from Tuesday May 21, 2019:
Wednesday May 22, 2019 the second quiz for this session was administered.
After taking into account the 25 point bonus — the class average for quiz 2 was 77.8%
A review of Chapter 6 continued during this lecture post quiz. Please continue to work on Chapter 6 and review Lesson 1-Lesson 5 for class next week.
Tuesday May 28, 2019 the third quiz was administered by Janiece. All those present received a 100% on the quiz.
Wednesday May 29, 2019 we completed Lesson 7 — please continue to review Lesson 7. We reviewed Lesson 5.
Lecture Audio May 29, 2019:
For Quiz 4 prepare in this way:
- Memorize section A conversions from Lesson 5
- Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions that relate to prescription examples Baby Girl Roberts, Janet Jackson, and Henry Ford from Lesson 5.
- Lastly, review the Alligation Hydrocortisone example that can be found on page 184 in your text. This example will be used for your quiz.
June 4, 2019 the quiz will be 25 questions. We will then review Quiz 4 –> proceed to a lab on compounding –> and review Lesson 8.
Please review your syllabus, our time together is nearing the end.
June 4 — Quiz 4 and practical compounding lab
June 18 — Final Exam
June 19 — Review of the Final Exam administered on the 18th and Final Grades
- Please continue to study, work diligently on your pharmacy technician registration, work on your resume’, and begin submitting applications to local pharmacies
- If you find a job as a pharmacy technician or as a pharmacy cashier prior to externship, you will not have to complete an externship.
50 point extra credit!!!!!!
Write two paragraphs describing each lesson that we have completed thus far. We have completed Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7.
Give 2 examples from each lesson and why each example is important in becoming a pharmacy technician.
For example in your paragraph you describe Pharmacy Technician Registration in the State of Alabama…
In Lesson 1 we discussed how to become registered as a pharmacy technician. It is important that pharmacy technicians know that in the State of Alabama we register by using albop.com. The annual fee is $103 with renewals occurring in odd years.
Remember 2 examples from each lesson, each example should be 1 paragraph in length. This must be typed. 12 point font. Times New Roman. Double spaced.
June 4 2019
June 4 2019 Audio —
If anytime remains we will begin covering Lesson 8.
Externships will be emailed out this Friday June 8, 2019. It is your responsibility to contact the Pharmacy Managers/Lead Technicians to setup days that you can complete your 40 hours of training. You will have 3 weeks to complete training. You are exempt from externship if you have found a job in Pharmacy.
June 11 2019 — Janiece will cover Lesson 8/Discuss Externship
June 12 2019 — Practice Final Examination/Discuss Externship
Link to practice final exam — please use your books and internet to study
The final exam will be 60 questions, you will have the full class session to complete.
Topics to cover: pharmacy workflow, prescription benefit card, math conversions, sig codes, pharmacy law, brand/genetics, and pharmacy math!
June 18 2019 — Final Exam/Questions/Discuss Externship — we need copies of your pharmacy tech registrations!
June 19 2019 — Final Grades/Review Final Exam/Questions/Discuss Externship
Thank you for taking the time to review my articles in the month of October during American Pharmacist Month.
If you haven’t had the chance to review the articles please take the time to do so. Each person that I had an opportunity to speak with had an interesting journey in becoming a practicing Pharmacist.
The journey of the practicing Pharmacist will certainly change and evolve in the coming years. Topics to consider and discuss with future Profile in Pharmacy participants will include the following topics:
- The role of the practicing Pharmacist in Managed Care
- The role of the practicing Pharmacist as Physician Extenders in the management of chronic disease states
- The role of the practicing Pharmacist as Prescribers which has taken shape in the Veterans Health Administration
- The role of the practicing Pharmacist as an Independent Pharmacy Owner
All great things to consider…. but until then, feel free to check out my previous posts with Donaye Blake, Brenda Denson, Tim Lacey, and Brad Schmidt.
October is American Pharmacists Month.
This Profile is truly a reflection of the commonality in our life’s story that first began in a dormitory nearly 20 years ago. I met Donaye circa fall 2001 while living in Pittman Hall at Samford University.
Pittman Hall was our home away from home. A place where we would study, sleep, eat, and bond over ping-pong and television. Some of the men that I would meet during those days would later become our future leaders in law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, business, and public health.
We lived our best lives in a chasm between the “Bubble” and being outside the “Gates.” While we made jokes of our existence living in the “Bubble” by acting as though we so desperately needed to escape; we all silently understood that we loved and respected the safety of our campus. The safety, the tranquility, and the ease by which we maneuvered in this “Bubble” allowed us to grow up and learn from both our successes and our failures, our ups and our downs, our hopes and our fears.
After a long day, we would swipe our ID badges to have access to the CAF where we would eat, sit, and listen and learn from each other. We learned life lessons over those meals; we needed those lessons and that support from one another to become the men we are today. Furthermore, it was because of our days in the “Bubble” that we were able to have a real opportunity to learn from our mistakes in a safe environment.
We laughed, yelled, cried, and prayed with one another. We spent many late nights studying and fighting sleep. We broke bread together, or rather broke onion rings together at our favorite hang out The Purple Onion. And then one day we walked across a stage and shook hands with the President of the University, took pictures, and became official graduates of an institution of higher education. We came in as boys and left to begin our journey as young men. We hugged each other, said we would keep in touch, and departed from each others presence to attempt to fulfill the mission that God had given each one of us. We all worked hard to make it; working to achieve our full potential to become the men that God created… men that could successfully take care of family and self.
After Donaye graduated from college, he attended Physical Therapy school in Georgia. I thought I wouldn’t see him on campus again, except for a few football games here and there. But sometime in the fall of 2002 during my Sophomore year of college that all changed.
Donaye entered the classroom for my General Chemistry II course with books, and I looked at him and said, “dude what are you doing in here…I thought you were doing Physical Therapy school?”
His response, “I changed my mind, I’m going to Pharmacy School.”
Little did we know — our individual journeys would continue to cross paths as we took a whirlwind adventure towards completing our goals, and reaching our final destinations as “First Generation PharmDs“. In that Chemistry class I watched Donaye meet the love of his life, a year later I watched him enter Pharmacy School, and four years later he would graduate.
How many actively practicing Pharmacists do you know are Hip-Hop artists? Donaye Blake, PharmD has produced 4 albums and is currently in the studio working on album number five. But it’s his album “The Sequel” that most inspired me in my own personal pursuit towards becoming a Pharmacist. In the song entitled “Guess Who“, I felt his pride, determination, and energy on his impending accomplishment of earning a PharmD when he rapped the following words…
“Haters hate the fact, that I’m so laid back, PharmD slash Rap, imma get that“. — Dab Haskal — lyrics from song “Guess Who” album, The Sequel
I would enter Pharmacy School in 2008 one year after he graduated from Pharmacy School in May 2007. Donaye, now a Retail Pharmacist with Walgreens helped me earn my first job in Pharmacy by recommending me to the Pharmacy Manager Joe Randall, PharmD. I’m thankful for that opportunity as I began to learn about my profession in a community pharmacy.
Fast forward and Donaye has been a practicing Pharmacist for 11 years. He’s worked as a Retail Community Pharmacist and he now serves in the role of a 7 on 7 off Staff Hospital Pharmacist. I’m thankful to know him because just seeing him achieve his goals, helped me to believe that I could do the same.
Lastly, but most importantly, Donaye Blake, PharmD is a devoted husband and a wonderful father to two beautiful daughters.
Once again, I’m very thankful for Donaye taking the time to reflect and respond to this set of questions. He has never been shy about expressing his personal truths. Thus, readers, please take into consideration his perspective on the Life of a Pharmacist. He offers a diverse perspective that both Pharmacy peers and laypersons can take into consideration in understanding our diverse perspective on describing the pressures of attending Pharmacy School and the pressures of being an actively practicing Pharmacist.
Sam: When did you graduate Pharmacy School?
Sam: Bachelors Degree?
Donaye: Exercise Science
Donaye: No. I was ready to get paid so I could give it all to Sallie Mae
Sam: Can you tell me about your career — what jobs you’ve had — positions and titles that you’ve held — please don’t be modest
Donaye: Because the pharmacist job market was far less saturated than today’s, I took a two and a half month break after graduation to travel, relax and study. After finally sitting for and passing the boards, I immediately started at Walgreens as a floating pharmacist between two Birmingham stores. After 3 years of floating, I accepted a 7 on 7 off overnight position which was the best decision of my professional life. After seven years of overnights and relocating my family to Tennessee, I was offered a position at a leading hospital in Nashville as a 7 on 7 off day shift staff pharmacist.
Sam: A lot of folks may not know that you’ve had an influence on me considering a career in pharmacy. I remember seeing you around campus in 2001 and watching you go through the phase of considering a career in physical therapy and then transitioning your career towards a pursuit in pharmacy. How did you realize that pharmacy was the right fit for you?
Donaye: While in Physical Therapy School at North Georgia College, we had a guest speaker from Mercer’s pharmacy program. He was giving a lecture about loading dose and I was so absolutely intrigued that I actually immediately withdrew from the physical therapy program to return to Samford University in order to satisfy prerequisites for McWhorter School of Pharmacy.
Sam: We both graduated from the Exercise Science Sports Medicine Department when we were in undergrad. Has that undergraduate background had an effect on your practice as a Pharmacist? If so, in what ways do you incorporate that foundation of knowledge?
Donaye: In my opinion, Samford University’s Exercise Science program is one of the most thorough programs in the country. That foundation of knowledge has been paramount in assisting in patient counseling and recommendations as patient questions aren’t always exclusively about drugs. Understanding physiology and anatomy is sometimes extremely helpful for productive patient consultations.
Sam: I know that you have a passion for music – especially hip hop music. You’ve released multiple albums under the moniker “Dab Haskal” – how have you been able to balance music with your professional life as a Pharmacist?
Donaye: I’ve always had the belief that if people really want to do something, they’ll find time to do it. Music is my opportunity to vent about social and political frustrations, but in a creative and inspiring space. It’s as much a part of my identity as my last name. I’m currently working on a project called ‘Therapy.’ This will be album number five.
Sam: Have you ever performed live with a band? Do you think some of your patients would suspect that you’ve released multiple Hip-Hop albums?
Donaye: Early on, I did several live shows including a charity event at Samford University (Kickin’ It for Kidz). No. My being a hip/hop artist appears to be a foreign concept to patients and co-workers alike…until they hear a sample. I prefer the element of surprise
Sam: Life as a Pharmacist can be very stressful. We live a life where there’s no room for error. How do you balance this professional life with being a family man?
Donaye: As a young Pharmacist, I didn’t require much sleep so finding time for professional and family life was no problem. However, now that kids have entered the picture, priorities have changed. Fortunately, my 7 on 7 off schedule allows me to spend more time with the family than the average full-time pharmacist.
Sam: What advice would you give to pharmacy students and actively practicing Pharmacists on how to maintain an appropriate work/home balance?
Donaye: I would advise young Pharmacists to work as hard and as much as they can early to pay off all debt so later they can benefit from having such a wonderful salary. No debt provides options and less desperation during times of transition and/or professional hardships.
Sam: Based on current USA data published from https://datausa.io/profile/soc/291051/ black people make up 7% of actively practicing Pharmacists. Thus, me and you are part of the 7 percent. What words of encouragement would you give young black kids looking at you thinking it would be cool to become a Pharmacist, yet uncertain if they could overcome potential life obstacles to make it?
Donaye: I would encourage young black kids to drown out negativity and believe in themselves. There’s nothing special or exceptional about that 7% of black pharmacists other than them taking interest in the pharmaceutical field and pursuing it to completion. I’m of the belief that anybody of sound mind & body can accomplish just about any endeavor with enough hard work and desire to achieve. Today, the only obstacle is mental!
Sam: Describe a day in your life as a practicing Pharmacist. What are some of the things the public doesn’t always understand you’re dealing with in making appropriate pharmaceutical care decisions?
Donaye: In the retail setting, life as a Pharmacist (and technician) was just short of chaos. In my 11 year experience with retail, much of it was spent understaffed with impossible goals set for my team by upper management. We’d have to juggle phones ringing nonstop, high script counts and the drive thru buzzing constantly all while being short-handed and exhausted. So yes, making appropriate pharmaceutical care decisions was a daily challenge, but one that most retail pharmacists and technicians did/do flawlessly.
Sam: How must Pharmacists improve their communication with the public so that the art and science of pharmacy can be more understood?
Donaye: In the retail setting, I think pharmacists have done an excellent job at communicating with the public. I think the biggest obstacle is actually finding time to speak with patients with all the other responsibilities and handicaps hindering that most important task (interpersonal communication)
Sam: Why has a Pharmacy Sitcom never been created? If it were created should it be in a retail pharmacy or in a hospital pharmacy? I vote retail but that may cause a bit of division in our community 😉
Donaye: It’s interesting that you asked. A good friend approached me about a possible reality show based on my overnight pharmacy retail life. Apparently, he read one of my numerous “Midnight Madness Chronicles” on Facebook and was highly amused. The idea quickly fizzled out because I didn’t think Walgreens would allow cameras and video equipment in the pharmacy due to HIPAA regulations. I think retail pharmacy would be an ideal setting for a pharmacy sitcom.
Sam: You’ve had a passion for finance for years. I remember you talking about Dave Ramsey books and how to save and pay off debt. What would be your advice for pharmacy students and Pharmacists struggling with student loan debt?
Donaye: I graduated with 204k in student loan debt. My advice would be to work hard early and often to chip away as soon as possible. Do not let it linger. Do not buy a house and/or car after graduation. Do not take advice from other broke pharmacy students with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. PERIOD!!!
Sam: How has becoming a father changed your practice of pharmacy?
Donaye: It hasn’t changed. I still practice the same, but my desire to “move up” in the pharmacy ranks has decreased. For me, it’s more important to be present in my kids lives early. Often times, holding an important title beyond staff PharmD equates to less time at home.
Sam: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Donaye: PAY OFF YOUR STUDENT DEBT EARLY!
October is American Pharmacist Month.
In this edition of Profiles in Pharmacy, I have the great privilege of speaking with Brenda Denson, PharmD about her career in pharmacy.
I met Brenda Denson circa April 2012. At the time she served as the Investigational Drug Pharmacist for Children’s of Alabama. I spent a few days with her and enjoyed my time. I asked her questions about the role of the Investigational Pharmacist, and I asked her questions about life as a Pharmacist. Oftentimes in life it’s not the conversations you remember, but rather how a person has made you feel. Brenda is down to earth, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and practical experiences.
A quote by Maya Angelou that I enjoy is as follows:
” I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
After working with her and being her peer in the world of Pharmacy, I’m glad to know Brenda Denson. She has a genuine passion for the practice of pharmacy, and is able to effectively share this passion with patients, peers, and students. Brenda is a graduate of Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy. She currently serves as as a Pharmacy Educator for Children’s of Alabama Pharmacy Department and is a member of Alabama’s Board of Pharmacy.
Brenda has a high emotional intelligence, a strong work ethic, and a persistence to produce quality work. I’m thankful that she took the time out of her busy schedule to share her knowledge of pharmacy practice and life with her peers, students, and laypersons interested in our profession.
Sam: When did you graduate Pharmacy School? Bachelors Degree? Residency?
Brenda: 1998 followed by a one-year residency at Children’ Health System
Sam: Can you tell me about your career — what jobs you’ve had — positions and titles that you’ve held — please don’t be modest
Brenda: Residency, then floater pharmacist for a year, then Lead stem cell transplant pharmacist (where we opened a satellite for our new Stem Cell transplant service), then clinical coordinator/residency director, interim director. After that I went and worked as a staff pharmacist at an LTAC, then consultant pharmacist, then investigational studies pharmacist, and now pharmacy educator. Also, I have always had an extra job in addition to my full time job. Those extra jobs always gave me a different perspective on pharmacy and healthcare in general.
Sam: You were one of the first classes to transition to the PharmD — has the transition from the Bachelors in Pharmacy to the PharmD brought about significant changes in the practice of pharmacy? If not, how can pharmacists better position themselves in our practice to fulfill the high level of education that we have received in the classroom?
Brenda: I was actually in the first all PharmD class at Samford. I am proud of all of the accomplishments that my class has made. The doctor of pharmacy program better prepared us for the ever-changing needs of our society and better prepared us to examine medications in more of a clinical setting while retaining a good business sense as well.
Sam: In terms of demographics — A recent Bloomberg article (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-06/u-s-women-outpacing-men-in-higher-education-demographic-trends) stated the following “among professional degrees, women in the same cohort obtained three-quarters of professional degrees and 80% of doctoral degrees”– thus, women are outpacing men and this definitely seems to be the case in our profession… when you were in school was this the case or was it pretty much 50-50 in your class? How has being a Woman and Leader in the world of Pharmacy impacted you? What would you tell young women out there looking to reach the heights of their profession?
Brenda: If I recall correctly our class was about 70:30 women to men. Sometimes being a woman in leadership is challenging to balance home and career. Men may feel the same struggle at times but gender roles that have been considered traditional or inherent to being a woman (e.g. as a mother wanting to always be there for your children) may often make that career and home life balance difficult. My advice to women is that there are times that you need to stretch yourself to grow but there are times that you may just have to kindly reply no to extra opportunities. That is ok. You do not have to rush to achieve your goals.
Sam: You have served in a variety of positions. Pediatric Pharmacist, Interim Director of Pharmacy, Resident, Investigational Pharmacist, Member of the Board of Pharmacy — did you ever plan or suspect that you would be in these various positions?
Brenda: When I was a resident I made a list of goals. I wrote down that I wanted to be a director of pharmacy. Although I only served for 6 months as interim director at COA (Children’s of Alabama) I feel like I was blessed to have the opportunity in the time frame I had set out for myself. As for ALBOP (Alabama Board of Pharmacy), I never would have suspected that I would be selected for such an honor. When I was nominated as one of the people to be considered for the institutional slot on ALBOP I never thought that I would even make it to the final three for the governor’s list. During my interview by the selection committee I was asked “Why do you think that you should be selected for the ALBOP position”. My reply was: “I don’t know if I should be selected. There are so many other pharmacists more deserving than me.” I really just think that it was a timing issue. I was put here for a reason and I am going to do the best that I can no matter how hard it is at times.
Sam: I’ve always known you to take an active role in being a preceptor and showing students around the hospital — what is the one thing that you attempt to impart on these students before they leave your guidance? I know from my personal experience with you as my preceptor for a few days you always seemed to be so down to earth… I only learned later about your accomplishments. What has helped you keep the glass half full approach with students over the years?
Brenda: I feel like I can help them with practical skills. I try to expose them to as much as possible and I try to help them learn how to find the right answer instead of memorizing everything. Things change and it is more important to learn how to function and know how to find the correct answer. As far as the “glass half full approach” …. I don’t know how people function thinking it is always empty. To me the glass always has something in it. I have hope.
Sam: How has being a board of pharmacy member changed your perspective on the practice of pharmacy? I’m not sure people realize how much time you have to devote to fulfilling that duty… can you express how much time is involved with this while also completing your work duties as a practicing Pharmacist?
Brenda: My perspective has changed since I have become a board member because I have the opportunity to see the best and worst in many situations of pharmacy practice. I have gotten to see a bird’s eye view on thought processes of people when they do take a path that ends in breaking the pharmacy laws. It makes me see situations differently now. As far as the time commitment it does take some extra time to serve as a board member. People contact you with questions, ideas, and thoughts that they have to share with you. I always learn from those experiences but it does require a good bit of time.
Sam: You have been very successful in your career as a Pharmacist — what keeps you balanced and grounded in your pursuit to being a good person while also attempting to further our profession?
Brenda: Balance is a good word. You cannot say yes to every opportunity that you are presented with. Discernment is a must. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to take management and personal skills classes early in my career. I think that they have served me well. As for being a good person, I appreciate the compliment. I hope I am (a good person). I feel that doing the right thing is just something that was engrained in me as a child.
Sam: Are people scared or intimidated to talk to you now that you’re on the Board of Pharmacy? Or has it opened up more dialogue with folks that you thought you would never talk to? Personally, I would imagine that you’ve stayed the same but the people have changed…
Brenda: I don’t think that it has made a difference in how people talk to me overall. I do think that dialogue has opened up about pharmacy issues with people that I did not routinely have encounters with previously.
Sam: When I was at the Board of Pharmacy getting my license — one of the Board Members talked to us briefly and said “T is for Target” and that each newly licensed Pharmacist had just become a target. In his own way, I believe that he was expressing how easy it is to get caught up in doing things the wrong way as a Practicing Pharmacist. I often tell my students the hardest word to learn when you become a Pharmacist is “NO”. What’s a statement that you normally make to new grads getting their license? I know it might not be T is for Target — but do you have any sayings that you’ve used over the years?
Brenda: I tell them that they have chosen a profession where you are a leader, whether you see yourself in that manner or not. The general public trusts pharmacists and look toward their leadership for healthcare solutions.
Sam: What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a Pharmacist? I know your sister is a practicing Dentist. Did you ever get any pushback for your decision from friends or family? Personally, my family had never heard of becoming a Pharmacist — so when I told them that I was going to Pharmacy School they didn’t know what that meant…
Brenda: I have known that I wanted to be a pharmacist since I was 16 years old. My dad wanted me to become a pharmacist so much that he took out a loan for my first year of pharmacy school because I did not receive enough loan money to attend Samford. My siblings encouraged me in my pursuit to becoming a pharmacist. I actually started pharmacy school two years before my older sister started dental school. She said that I gave her the confidence that she could accomplish her goal of becoming a dentist, a field that has less women than men.
Sam: You have taught Pharmacy Technician courses for years. How has doing that shaped or influenced your pharmacy career? In your opinion, how can Pharmacists be more active in teaching Pharmacy Technicians? What would you suggest to Folks considering a career as a Pharmacy Technicians and what would you suggest to the Pharmacy Technician that now wants to transition into a career as a Pharmacist… anything else that you would like to add about yourself teaching Pharmacy Technicians?
Brenda: I have been teaching pharmacy technicians at work on processes, policies, and concepts but I also helped teach a class at work called “Tuesday Tips for Techs” for several Tuesdays while many of our technicians were studying for the certification exam. During that time, I was able to build closer relationships with our technicians and it enabled me to learn how many of them processed information. It was a rewarding experience to see our technicians pass the exams. In addition, I taught and coordinated a Pharmacy Technician course at Jeff State. Often times the students were there to see if they wanted to become a technician. I instructed them on study material but also brought practical experiences to them. I was able to encourage them in the career path that was best suited for them at that time. Some of them keep in touch and let me know what they are doing …. pharmacy or non-pharmacy. I hope that I made a positive impact on their life and career. Lastly, I have had the privilege of seeing some of our technicians go to pharmacy school and becoming pharmacists. I have also seen many of our technicians go on to other careers that have made them happy. I just want the best fit for them and their family.
Sam: What changes to the pharmacy curriculum do you envision occurring in the next 10 years? How could these changes help produce a better Pharmacist?
Brenda: Some of the changes are already occurring. I feel like that there will be many more interdisciplinary experiences that will allow our profession to show our value in healthcare to other healthcare professionals. I think that the interdisciplinary experience will serve our patients better.
Sam: Anything that you would like to add?
Brenda: I am proud to call pharmacy my profession. I think that we have a unique opportunity to provide safer medication therapy through our expertise as pharmacists.
Tim: I attended Phillips High School (now Phillips Academy) and graduated from Auburn in 1976.
Tim: I was influenced by the two pharmacists that worked at Cowgill Drug in North Birmingham, where my mother worked as a clerk. The owner, Franklin Little, was classy and professional, highly respected by everyone in the community. Everyone called him “Doctor Little”. The staff pharmacist, George Thompson, was a happy-go-lucky guy that seemed to enjoy his job immensely. I admired both very much and decided that I wanted to be a combination of the two.
Tim: In addition to the two already mentioned, I had the privilege of working a number of years for Jimmy Harrison, president of Harco Drugs, and Jerry Thomas, vice president of Harco. They made working for Harco seem like a family business, where everyone was important. When I decided to go back to work for Harco after Big B Drugs was bought out by CVS, I received a personal phone call from Mr. Harrison, telling me how excited he was that I was back. When he made the difficult decision to sell Harco to Rite Aid, he personally hand wrote a letter of apology to each of his pharmacy managers, explaining why he made the decision. It meant so much to all of us. He taught us the right way to treat employees and patients.
Tim: In addition to working at Cowgill as a teenager, I worked at Campus Drugs in Auburn (a Harco store) while in school. After graduation, I did my internship with K-Mart Pharmacy in Huntsville. After I received my license in 1977, I returned to Harco, working briefly in Talladega before opening a new store in Alexander City. I became homesick for my family and friends in Birmingham, and started working for Big B in 1979. I stayed with them for 17+ years until they were bought by Revco, then eventually CVS. By then, Harco had locations in Birmingham and I received an offer from them in 1997. I was glad to be back with the Harco family, but the Rite Aid deal was not long after. I stayed with Rite Aid for about another year. I began hearing rumors about Walgreens coming to Alabama, and started checking about possible employment. I had been told many years before “if you ever get a chance to work for Walgreens, take it!” I had the honor of being one of 3 pharmacists hired to open their first Alabama store, in Pelham. I now have 20+ years with Walgreens.
Tim: The PharmD degree has much more clinical component than the old Bachelors degree. In my opinion, at first, there was a shortage of practical experience with the PharmD students, but I believe that has been addressed and corrected now. When I graduated, the requirements were different in that we had to get the majority of our intern hours after graduation, which gave us about a year of practical experience under supervision. I probably learned as much in that year as I did in 3 years of pharmacy school. The PharmD students get great experience on their rotations in their final year. I think it would have been fun to do that while I was a student. For the most part, I’ve received nothing but respect from my students. They recognize that 40+years of experience counts for something, and that I know what I’m talking about (most of the time).
Tim: I think, over the years, the one rule that causes the most confusion, is the “two signature lines” rule. Technically, if a prescription blank does not have that, it’s not a valid prescription. I understand there is some talk about eliminating or modifying that rule.
Tim: I would tell a new grad that patient safety is the most important thing. If something is unclear, whether it is the drug prescribed, directions for use, potential interactions or contraindications, you must get it right. If you don’t get it right, it doesn’t matter how fast you got it to the patient. Ours is one of the few, if not the only profession, you have to bat 1000, or there’s a problem.
Tim: Student pharmacists are so well educated these days. I feel that sometimes I learn more from them than they do from me. As far as being harder or easier to teach, it depends on the student. Some come to me with no experience in retail. There is a learning curve for them. Five or six weeks is not long enough to learn everything we have to deal with. The ones with retail experience are usually the easiest. I would estimate that I have had close to 500 students, including students on rotation and students that worked part time. I often wish that I had kept a scrapbook of all my students over the years.
Tim: Yes, and no. Pharmacy, especially retail pharmacy has changed so much over the last 42 years. I never dreamed that I would be administering immunizations. I never imagined the impact that third party payors would have on the profession. I never thought I would have to deal with a drive thru window.
Tim: The profession has been good to me. It has given me a nice income, and a sense of being a part of something that helps people. I have derived much satisfaction from mentoring students that went on to be good pharmacists, and any time a patient thanks you for what you do for them, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.