A career change and a heart attack can be daunting — just ask Karen Schmidt, 2007 Pharmacy Technician graduate. However, through the training gained at CCPE, Karen went from working in healthcare insurance to employed at WellStar.
At the age of 49, Karen suffered a heart attack due to a blocked artery. When she was ready to go back to work several weeks later, she discovered her job was being relocated to Texas. Unable to move, Karen took this as a sign to go in a new path.
She had been out of work for two and a half years when she received our Course catalog in the mail. Karen recognized the name of the instructor listed — it was her pharmacist, Tim Sanders. “The writing had been on the wall for this career change,” Karen said. He encouraged her to enroll and told her that she could use the Pharmacy Technician program as a solid foundation to spring board her second career.
“Karen was prepared, attentive, and participated well in the classroom setting,” Tim said. “Her questions were reasoned and well-thought-out and the answers that ensued benefited the entire class. The kind of student that all instructors appreciate.”
Karen initially wanted to use the class as a stepping stone back to the healthcare insurance industry. However, after graduating, a pharmacy opportunity arose at Publix in 2008, which she accepted.
In 2011, Tim asked if she would be interested in a position at WellStar Health System. Tim said, “As one of the top students and also a customer of mine, Karen was a logical choice to offer a position to. At each stage, customer, student, and now employee I got to know Karen better and in a different way. I was not disappointed at any stage.”
Tim and Karen share tips on what skills make a good pharmacy technician in their Facebook Live
Within a year at WellStar, Karen transferred to the EPIC Health Records Systems implementation team. She was able to get on the ground floor of something new.
Once the implementation was fully complete, she transferred to the IT team supporting the Willow application as an analyst, maintaining and optimizing WellStar’s version of the EPIC software.
From pharmacy technician to IT analyst, Karen has found the greatest help has been Tim and the practical lessons she learned in the program along with the help outside of class.
“This was definitely another career change,” Karen said. “This was nothing I could have planned for. I consider Tim Sanders to be an angel on my shoulder. He helped me to get a job as a pharmacy tech. Then, due to him, I was in the right place at the right time to make some different changes in my career path that got me to where I am today.”
Throughout all the career changes, her two kids have remained her biggest motivation. Karen has learned to never say never. “Sometimes you just have to start over at the entry level but be open to all opportunities.”
“Her growth resulted from applying what she learned her whole life and taking advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves,” Tim said. “She has succeeded by reaching her goals. I was pleased to play a part in that.”
For those who might be hesitant to change careers, Karen advises to network. She said, “It truly is a small world and you never know when someone you crossed paths with will be in a position to hire you, give you a reference and last but not least, pay it forward!”