UK Pharmacy Services program preps high schoolers for pharmacy career

Four students and an instructor posing for a photo inside an educational pharmacy program.

 Central Kentucky high school students now have the opportunity to graduate as certified pharmacy technicians, thanks to a new partnership between UK Pharmacy Services and Southside Technical Center

UK Pharmacy Services, which operates the inpatient and retail pharmacies for UK HealthCare, teamed up with Southside in the fall of 2023 as part of an ongoing effort to create a supply of high-quality pharmacy technician candidates while making high-demand health care fields more accessible to high school students. Southside’s pre-pharmacy program prepares students from Fayette, Jessamine, Scott and Woodford county public high schools to join a steady job market immediately after graduating high school.

Twenty-eight students enrolled in the inaugural class last August and will complete the program in May 2024. Throughout the school year, pre-pharmacy students spend half the day at public school and the other half completing paid clinical hours on-site at UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital’s central (inpatient) pharmacy through UK’s STEPS employment.

“The program provides a unique learning opportunity where students get paid while receiving on-the-job technician training in a real pharmacy setting,” said Melissa Weber, senior pharmacy technician manager for UK Pharmacy Services and director of the pre-pharmacy program. Students are paired with an experienced supervisor as they learn to carry out the daily operations of a central pharmacy.

As a PTCB-recognized education program, Southside’s pre-pharmacy pathway meets the eligibility requirements for the national pharmacy technician certification exam. Once students finish the accelerated program in the spring, they will be qualified to sit for the certification exam and enter the workforce as pharmacy technicians.

“I never considered becoming a pharmacy technician until I enrolled in the pre-pharmacy program at Southside and began working on-site at Chandler’s central pharmacy. The community here is so welcoming and the central pharmacy provides a great learning environment,” said Perle Fayida, a Frederick Douglass High School student enrolled in Southside’s pre-pharmacy program. “This experience has not only opened a door for new career options, but college scholarships, as well. I'm truly grateful for the opportunities it has given me.”

After certification, the students are encouraged to apply for open technician positions at UK HealthCare. As one of the leading and fastest-growing academic medical center pharmacies in the United States, UK Pharmacy Services is always in need of new pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy technicians not only help dispense prescription medicines to patients, they assist in each hands-on process, from collecting patient information to measuring, labeling and packaging medication. As UK Pharmacy Services continues to expand, more jobs are created to meet the need.

“People often assume that the job of a pharmacy technician can’t be pursued as a lifelong career,” said Weber. “In actuality, there are numerous opportunities for growth as a pharmacy technician at UK in areas such as HR, management, administration, compliance and more. It isn’t a stopping point — UK has so many different career options to explore.”

If you know a high school student interested in pursuing a pharmacy technician career, visit Southside Technical Center’s pre-pharmacy program page to learn more. More information about UK Pharmacy Services is available at

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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