Pharmacist Pouring Pills into Bottle

From Empty Nest to Pharm Tech

By Bob Cohen

Like many women, Yvonne Halstead, 44, of Beaverton, Oregon, chose to start a family after graduating from high school. She moved to Arizona and later divorced and returned to Portland to be near family. And like many women, Yvonne found herself years later a single mother with children leaving the nest and her own situation unsettled.

“I felt like I had missed my option to go to college,” she says.

While raising her family, Yvonne had entered the workforce without a college credential, working a series of make-do jobs in retail, selling jewelry, clothing, and outdoor gear and later as an administrative assistant. A second divorce proved to be a turning point for her.

“I wanted to do something more worthwhile and meaningful…to be a productive person in society,” Yvonne says.

Yvonne started a new future for herself when she enrolled in the Pharmacy Technician program at Anthem College in Beaverton, near Portland. Why Anthem? “I did consider community college but it didn’t have the same class structure or time frames as Anthem–or the discipline,” she says.

Anthem offered advantages including after-school help and a close-knit environment. “Anthem wants you to succeed and to learn as much as you can,” Yvonne says. “Returning to school was not easy for me but Anthem was a great choice. They care about you.”

Yvonne completed her diploma program in January 2012, got her national certification and even had a job at a compounding pharmacy in nearby Hillsboro before graduating from Anthem. The school played an important role in helping her gain employment. Having already hired several Anthem-educated pharmacy technicians, the pharmacy called again. Yvonne applied and had the job one week later.

“Anthem absolutely prepared me for every element,” Yvonne says. Referring to her current work environment, “I knew what to expect going in. Anthem teaches you everything about prescription medication, their usage, the different parts of body, and how drugs affect parts of body. If I hadn’t gone to work in a compounding pharmacy, I could have been making IVs in a retail setting. With the knowledge and information I got at Anthem, I could have gone into any area of pharmacy and been totally comfortable with it.”

For now, Yvonne is extremely pleased with how things turned out. Her job requires her to do just what Anthem taught: entering prescriptions into the pharmacy’s computer system, mixing and packaging prescriptions, coordinating with pharmacists, and assisting customers. She says she fascinated by the way that pharmaceutical drug manufacturers turn raw chemicals into helpful compounds.

And Yvonne’s thoughts about the decision to return to school? “It’s been of major significance. I went from having no direction to having guidance, direction and enthusiasm. With my kids growing up and being independent, this is something for me. It’s new, exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens in the future.”

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