A love of math and working with children led Pennsylvania native Ben Reynolds into a career as a math teacher after graduating from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. But after a decade in education—four years in Pennsylvania, six years in Colorado—Ben was ready for a change, and turned to Front Range Community College to figure out his next move.

“A lot of different careers interested me, but after thinking about next steps I realized that what appealed to me about teaching is a desire to make a difference,” says Ben, who deferred college for two years to play semi-professional hockey in Canada and Vermont.

Turned on to Healthcare

That aspiration to help people led Ben to explore the healthcare field. He left St. Vrain Valley School District after the 2018-2019 school year—where he had been a seventh-grade math teacher, math interventionist, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) teacher—and set his sights on the Pharmacy Technician certificate program at FRCC.

“Measuring medication and assisting doctors and nurses in making sure patients get the right medicine to treat their health issues—it sounded like a fun and rewarding career to me,” says Ben. He enrolled in the Pharm Tech program in fall 2019 and started classes at FRCC’s Westminster Campus.

A Bonus: Pharm Tech Apprenticeship at Centura Health

After getting started, an advisor at FRCC encouraged Ben to look into the new Pharmacy Technician apprenticeship program, funded by a $12 million grant to the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). FRCC has had medical assisting and pharmacy technician apprenticeships in the past, but the grant is helping to expand them and formalize the apprenticeship program—and Centura Health was one Colorado company that was excited to get involved.

“For someone like me, an apprenticeship is perfect because I could get hands-on training while learning the ins and outs of an entirely new career,” Ben says. He applied to and was accepted into the competitive apprenticeship program at Centura’s St. Anthony Hospital. There, he helped assemble mail-order prescription orders for the pharmacy.

Longmont United Hospital

Since January 2020, Ben has worked at Longmont United, compounding medication and preparing doses for the nurse stations. In August 2020, Ben sat for his boards to become a Certified Pharmacy Technician. He’s applying for jobs and excited about what the future holds. “It was a lot of work to complete 29 credits in under four months, but I went into it not having a full understanding of the career and now I feel ready for the transition,” he says.

Next Up: Nursing

Although Ben wants to gain experience as a pharmacy technician, he is also considering returning to school to become a nurse—and he’ll attend FRCC if he does.

“This is a great foundation and I know that if I’d gone straight into nursing, I would have been pretty overwhelmed,” Ben says. “The apprenticeship and Pharmacy Technician program have helped me get a feel for this career so I can make the transition into healthcare. It’s been a lot of fun going back to school.”

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