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Juliane Hegle, JD, CPhT

by Laura Humphrey | Jul 12, 2017
 

“When I was asked to develop a pharmacy technician education program for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, I was thrilled at the new challenge. I felt fortunate to spend a great deal of time in both the ambulatory and inpatient pharmacies, learning from very knowledgeable pharmacists and technicians. Together we designed a robust curriculum and I was responsible for ensuring that the students were adequately prepared for their PTCE and their new jobs. This included teaching pharmacy calculations to the group. I had always been good at math, but I had never taught it. The one thing that surprised me was the level of stress that some students displayed each time we started calculations. I could see the tears well up on one student’s eyes when she felt she wasn’t capable of doing the math. For her, she just needed some one-on-one coaching and a lot of encouragement, and one day I could see that she got it. For another student, who lived near me, on Sundays we would meet at my home, drink tea, and work on math. That student has been working in the hospital pharmacy for three years  as an IV room technician and has become an amazing mentor for new technicians in the pharmacy. In each program I do, I am amazed at the tenacity that I see in the students and marvel at their professional successes."

Juliane K. Hegle, JD, CPhT
Director of Strategic Planning & Government Relations
Dean of Academic Affairs, Faculty
Institute for American Apprenticeships (IAA) at Vermont HITEC


 A conversation with Julie ...

Q.) How would you describe your program, and what is the cost of tuition?
A.)
“The Institute for American Apprenticeships HITEC (Health Care and Information Technology Education Center) provides a pathway for pharmacy technicians to obtain gainful employment through an accelerated program. Because the Institute is funded by employers and through grants, technicians complete the program at no cost. The apprenticeship students become full-time employees of the employer-sponsor. Their job is guaranteed. There are only two pharmacy technician apprenticeship educators in the nation right now. We are a leader in apprenticeships.”

Q.) How does your program support both technicians and employers?
A.)
“We are a gap filler. New Hampshire and Vermont have low unemployment. But the major employer in our program is Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H), and they are in a very rural area where filling jobs is a big challenge. Our rural location drives up wages here, by the way. When an employer needs employees, we develop curriculum tailored to the employer, and then recruit. Students are guaranteed a job. Employers are part of the selection process for admissions.”

Q.) How is your program successful? How is it innovative?
A.)
“I believe that a key component of our program is the focus on critical thinking to build upon academic knowledge. In terms of measurable results, from a testing perspective, our students have significantly exceeded the national average on the PTCE in all areas, including medication safety and quality assurance. This has carried over into the workplace, as demonstrated by their meeting or exceeding of apprenticeship competencies. Our graduates across the board have met or exceeded expectations in all technical areas 1 to 2 months ahead of projected timelines..”

Q) How does your program enable pharmacy technicians to advance medication safety?
A.)
“Employers pay tuition for their employees because they know their technicians will come out well prepared. Technicians who complete our program are ready for employment in 3 months. We put a heavy focus on medication safety. We bring in pharmacists to teach and talk with the class, and we focus on getting students to understand the ‘whys’ of what they do on the job. We share real-life examples of medication errors where real people have died or been injured, and our students see the importance of their role. We emphasize critical thinking skills so our graduates continually ask themselves,‘Why is this important?’ and ‘What else can I do to protect patients’ safety?’ They understand they always need to think about what could go wrong and how to avoid it.”

Q.) How does PTCB Certification play a role in your program?
A.)
“D-H only recognizes PTCB Certification and requires all technicians to be PTCB-Certified within 9 months of starting employment. The PTCE is definitely challenging. I’ve taken both exams myself, and the PTCE is rigorous. I definitely see why the PTCE is gold standard.”

Q. What advice would you give other educators?
A.)
“The competency piece of apprenticeship is so important! Look into setting up apprenticeships. My advice to other educators is to really partner with pharmacies and make it a collaborative effort, and make it real, not just academic.”
 

 
Dr. Hegle engages her class in a hands-on experiment with geometric blending.
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