Meijer to sponsor pharmacy technician training program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Meijer on Thursday announced that it is sponsoring the pharmacy technician adult career training program at the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology in an effort to recruit well-trained graduates for placement in its pharmacies throughout West Michigan.

The investment also strengthens the retailer's commitment to continued education and partnership with WMCAT that offers fully-funded training in growing fields to under and unemployed adults, noted Karen Mankowski, VP pharmacy operations for the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer.

"Our goal is to provide the best service to our Meijer pharmacy customers, which truly starts with having the right people in those roles," Mankowski said. "The need for pharmacy technicians is growing tremendously, and our partnership with WMCAT will enable us to bolster our pharmacy staff so they can build patient relationships to better manage their health care needs."

Although the retailer began its sponsorship of the technician program in the 2013-14 school year, Mankowski said, the retailer has hired several WMCAT graduates over the past few years due to the quality of training they've received. The latest group of WMCAT students will graduate today, including Kena Lee, who participated in an externship at Meijer as part of her training.

"I thought Meijer was amazing. Every experience was a learning experience and I never felt like I was just there," Lee said. "I like the [retail] business, because you always having something to do and I have the feeling that I'm helping someone at the same time."

Employment of pharmacy technicians, who help licensed pharmacists formulate and dispense prescription medication, is slated to increase 20% by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meijer anticipates the need for the positions to continue because the population of patients is growing older and relying on more prescriptions, Mankowski said. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act may increase the number of patients seeking care. A Meijer pharmacy team member also serves on WMCAT's advisory committee to ensure the program curriculum has a strong retail component, and to better prepare those graduates for job placement with the retailer.

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