Magazine article Drug Topics

Young People Explore Pharmacy Careers through CVS Program

Magazine article Drug Topics

Young People Explore Pharmacy Careers through CVS Program

Article excerpt

In 2006, CVS Health decided to develop a new program to introduce teens and young adults to the world of pharmacy. The company wanted to offer local youngsters opportunities to leam about retail, hospital, and clinical pharmacy, and to provide them with summer internships working at local retail chains. For one Chicago teen, it led to a job offer and higher education.

Veronica Vergara, a lead pharmacy technician at a CVS pharmacy in Chicago, 111., was a high school junior in the Chicago public schools when she attended an informational meeting with her parents at University of Illinois at Chicago. She found herself intrigued by the summer internship and the opportunity to explore different types of pharmacy practice.

CVS Health's Pathways to Pharmacy program offered 28 to 30 students a real chance to experience the retail pharmacy environment and provided them the support of a pharmacist mentor, a stipend for their participation, and help with transportation and housing, if needed.

One step led to another

"The Pathways to Pharmacy program was my first exposure to the health field. I really hadn't thought too much about a career when I was a junior in high school. I credit the program for helping me choose pharmacy in the first place," Vergara said.

After the summer internship, she was offered a part-time position as a general pharmacy service assistant and was later promoted to pharmacy technician and then inventory specialist. Now she is a lead pharmacy technician responsible for helping other CVS pharmacies in her district fine-tune their procedures.

"I go to other CVS locations to analyze the workllow and make sure that we are all on the same page, with customer service being our No. 1 priority," she said. Vergara is pursuing a bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago and will consider applying to pharmacy school in the future.

She would recommend this career pathway to other high school students, she said, although choosing a career at such an early age did seem daunting.

"I would recommend this program to others and tell them to give CVS a chance, because as an employer, the company is flexible with school hours," Vergara said. "I am going to school now, and CVS has been great. …

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