Davies Career & Tech high school opens nation's first mock CVS pharmacy

Davies Career & Tech high school opens nation's first mock CVS pharmacy

LINCOLN - Getting real-world experience before they even step out the door, students at William M. Davies Career & Technical High School now have access to a mock CVS pharmacy - the first of its kind in the nation.

The school held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 11, which was attended by Gov. Lincoln Chafee and school and CVS officials.

Stocked with shelves of medication bottles and cabinets of tools behind the counter, and items like tissues, cough drops and magazines in front, the mock pharmacy is the first one the Woonsocket-based corporation has ever built in a school.

"If you look at it, it's as if you're in a CVS," said Bernard Blumenthal, Davies business and education partnership coordinator. "This way they get an opportunity to train."

The in-school pharmacy, the first one CVS has ever built, does not replace field training, said Karen Murphy, assistant business and education partnership coordinator. Rather, it enhances the classroom training.

Richard Laferriere, CVS lead manager of workforce initiatives, said it is no accident that the company built its first mock pharmacy at Davies.

The school's "incredibly successful" program is "genuinely designed," "very well cared for," and "only getting stronger," Laferriere said, while utilizing the same classroom curriculum used by CVS pharmacy technicians.

Davies started its CVS pharmacy technician program 13 years ago, Murphy said, when there was no other pharmacy technician training program in a Rhode Island high school.

Each year since then has seen another dozen seniors complete the 14-week program using skills learned in school two days a week, and on-site training for the rest of the week, when they head into CVS pharmacies in communities like Woonsocket, Pawtucket and Smithfield.

Pat Goddard, who has been with CVS for 18 years, has been a lead pharmacy technician for the Davies program since its inception in 2000. She said she is able to treat a Davies student like any other member of the staff. They fill prescriptions and take inventory, all while acting professionally and practicing customer service.

The mock pharmacy, she said, will make it easier for students to have mastered the basics before they start working in a store.

"Now they can physically see it before they get to me," Goddard said. "They're going to come to me with more knowledge. I don't have to start at that base level," which will give students time to learn more advanced skills.

Students, dressed in white lab coats, were excited about the new addition.

Andrea Flores, of Central Falls, said the program has strengthened her communication skills, while Whitney Giguere, of Pawtucket, said she hopes to work at CVS as a pharmacy technician while she furthers her education to become a pharmacist.

Almost more so than logistics, Goddard said she believes the program is meant to teach students to be confident in their abilities as they figure out what they want to pursue as a career.

"I tell them, 'It's OK to guess wrong. It's part of the learning process,'" she said. "It's nice to see kids finally believe in themselves."