Meijer Invests in Growing Pharmacy Technician Industry by Sponsoring Adult Career Training Program at the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology

Published Online: Thursday, June 26, 2014
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 26, 2014 – Meijer 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, said Karen Mankowski, vice president of 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 percent by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We are so grateful to Meijer for their sponsorship of our pharmacy technician program,” WMCAT Executive Director Kim Dabbs said. “It is a testament to their commitment to our local workforce. WMCAT looks forward to working with Meijer to build a culture of opportunity for under and unemployed adults.”

Chanae Gilbert always saw herself in the health care field, but the opportunity to pursue that dream never presented itself until she heard about WMCAT from a friend. The Grand Rapids mother of two gave it a shot, and found an environment she could thrive in – something she’s done at the Standale Meijer for four years.

“I was sick and tired of waiting tables,” Gilbert said. “I wanted more. I wanted security and I love helping people. We work hand in hand with their doctors to make sure people get their medications.”

As the Meijer pharmacy business continues to grow, the retailer is always on the lookout for reliable team members to fill pharmacy technician positions. 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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