Dr. Armen Simonian

In high school, Dr. Armen Simonian had a very strong interest in chemistry and biology. He desired to choose a profession where he could use that knowledge and apply it to taking care of patients.

“Pharmacy seemed like the perfect blend of those traits,” said Dr. Simonian, who teaches the Pharmacy Technician Training and Test Prep course through SDSU’s College of Extended Studies.

Dr. Simonian is the assistant dean and chair of clinical and administrative sciences, associate professor, and certificate coordinator for health information technology at the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy. He was previously the system pharmacy informaticist at Sharp HealthCare involved with the evaluation, selection, training, implementation, enhancement, and support of all pharmacy computer systems and automation at the six Sharp hospitals.

Dr. Simonian shares his experience teaching at SDSU:

What are some of the highlights of your class?
The main purpose is to prepare students for the Pharmacy Tech Certification Board (PTCB) exam. We cover all the important areas relative to the exam so that our students can get to the State Board of Pharmacy, get registered, and get a job as a pharmacy technician.

Do you use your own experiences in teaching the class?
I’m still per diem at Sharp HealthCare. I’ve been working at Sharp for 20 years. I’ll bring a lot of experiences to the classroom. Our class is very structured. I try to insert my anecdotes into class to make it real.

What are some of the anecdotes?
When it comes to pharmacy automation, I specifically talk about a specialist position at hospitals and the job responsibility. I relay stories about how systems are implemented and how pharmacy technicians help with their implementation and maintenance.

What are the main takeaways from your class?
My main takeaway from class is that when someone goes to work at a retail pharmacy, they are the face of the pharmacy. Usually, they are the first and last person of contact. One thing I emphasize is that they need to be there for the right reason. They are there to understand and care for the patient. They are probably dealing with someone who is not feeling well and not in the best of moods. They need to care for the patient and communicate well.

How bright is the future for this occupation?
It’s very bright. This is an area where there has been a lot of demand for many years. We are trying to get pharmacists as far away as possible from filling and dispensing. It takes many years of training, skills, and interacting with patients to become a pharmacist. We want pharmacists to focus on using their clinical skills and have the technician take over more of the daily pharmacy operations. There is a lot of legislation in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to expand the role of pharmacists.

What advice do you have for individuals seeking to enter the pharmacy technician profession?
Number one is to get an idea of what it’s all about. Make sure this is something you want to do. To be in the profession, you need to be a good communicator and be able to take care of other people.