PDCCC grad gets surprise placement

Published 4:52 pm Saturday, June 27, 2015

David Johnson fills a “prescription” in the pharmacy lab at Paul D. Camp Community College.

David Johnson fills a “prescription” in the pharmacy lab at Paul D. Camp Community College.

By Wendy Harrison

Special to the News-Herald


David B. Johnson is the first student from the Paul D. Camp Community College pharmacy technician program to get a job in a hospital setting so soon after completing his studies.

“Pharmacy technicians don’t usually get hired right out of school to work in a hospital,” said program director and instructor Elaine Beale. “It generally takes a few years of practice, usually at a retail pharmacy, before being considered for a job like this.”

Johnson, 33, graduated in May and on July 6, will begin working as an inpatient pharmacy technician at University of North Carolina Healthcare in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“UNC Healthcare will soon be a 900-bed facility,” he said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside other future pharmacists being trained at a highly respected pharmacy school.”

Johnson was also the first of eight in the third class of pharmacy technicians at PDCCC to take and pass the national exam for certification.

“I love competition,” he said. “I felt like my classmates and I became a family, and a few of us competed often. I wanted to be the first to successfully pass the exam, as it was my way of empowering them to take the exam. And earn their national certification as well.”

He recommends completing most of the program before taking the national exam. “It’s not an easy test, but once you’re certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, you can attain a license to work in any state. I have both Virginia and North Carolina licenses.”

Johnson has been working in healthcare for more than 12 years, most recently with the registration team at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Emergency Department. He had previously been working toward a business degree at a community college, but realized his passion was healthcare.

“I was a good business student, but my heart just wasn’t in it,” he said. “I had considered enrolling in a pharmacy technician program for years. My niece, Tori, graduated from N.C. State University two years ago, and her accomplishment not only made me a proud uncle, but also inspired me to return to college to pursue my dreams.”

When he began looking at schools that offered the program, Paul D. Camp Community College stood out to him, even though he would have to commute to Franklin from Chesapeake.

“PDCCC was the best choice,” Johnson said. “Mrs. Beale responded to me so quickly. I could feel her passion for this program, so it was an easy decision for me.”

Johnson gained clinical experience working with pharmacy technician Pamela Ritsch and pharmacist Margaret Rosner at Western Tidewater Free Clinic from November 2014 to February 2015 and Sentara Norfolk General In-Patient Pharmacy from February 2015 to present.

His goals include pursuing some additional specialty training for IV admixture certification offered in Texas and becoming a pharmacist.

Johnson, a native of Elizabeth City, N.C., plans to relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina in late June.