Overcoming Adversity: Charlene Pritchard

Stenberg College / May 9, 2018 / Pharmacy Technician Success Stories / 0 comments

Single mom Charlene Pritchard shares how she bounced back from serious health issues to become a Pharmacy Technician.

Charlene Pritchard, Student of The Year 2016 Finalist for the Pharmacy Technician Diploma program

For several years after the birth of her son, Charlene Pritchard was a stay at home mom. While she recalls it being somewhat of a “conversation killer” with other adults, it was a job she adored. “It was very rewarding every day,” Charlene recalls. “I organized everybody’s lives and I made things happen for them that I just wouldn’t have been able to do if I had been working outside of the home. At that time, a career wasn’t on my radar. I felt like a professional mom.”

How Charlene’s willpower helped her recover

In 2010, Charlene was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a chronic condition that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract. “I wasn’t well, so I started doing lots of things for myself to try to heal myself naturally. Diet played a big role. I took taekwondo to be more physical, I took yoga, meditation. I was doing all of these things to try to improve my situation.”

Her health continued to decline and in 2012 Charlene spent a prolonged period in the hospital. “I had surgery, so there was a very clear point of behind and ahead. I couldn’t walk, or eat solid food, or even sit up on my own – I was like a newborn baby. It felt like a rebirth, and my thinking was that I could do whatever I wanted in my new life. I don’t have complaints about my old life, but I wanted something different. I felt like I was a different person and I wanted more for myself.”

Wanting more and discovering her passion

Charlene returned to the workforce as an on-call mail sorter in the small Village of Lumby. As she healed, she began researching possible career paths online and came across an advertisement for the Pharmacy Technician program at Stenberg. She was immediately drawn to the job description, and even found herself wondering “How am I not already a pharmacy technician? Where did this job even come from? I had never even heard of this before. I didn’t even know it was a thing. The more I read about it, the more it just seemed like a really perfect fit for me.”

The combined delivery format of Stenberg’s program allowed Charlene to continue working part-time at the post office, and the in-class lab portions in Kamloops were close enough to home that Charlene knew she would be able to find a way to make the program work. “I spoke with my Dad regularly about the program, and he supported me every step of the way. He offered solutions, wisdom, encouragement, and had an unwavering faith in me. My family was amazing – everyone understood that school came first.”

Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Despite what she refers to as “school phobia” Charlene enrolled in the program. Charlene worked hard, and found herself with the top grades in her cohort, a feat she credits largely to the support of her instructors. “Despite the fact that the theory was delivered primarily online, I never felt like I was on my own. I asked a lot of questions; we were joking one day because there was something like 300 emails that I had exchanged with my one instructor. Some of the other students were around 20 emails. I asked a lot of questions, but I always got really good answers.”

Charlene’s eyes teared up with happiness as she read her reference letters for the Student of the Year 2016 interviews.

Charlene was hired directly off of her practical placement, and on May 12th successfully completed the examination to become a Regulated Pharmacy Technician, a career she is proud to have. “It’s a respectable career. You get to help people and you’re challenged every day. You’re never bored…It has all the pieces that I was looking for.”

Charlene’s coworkers are quick to praise her, sharing that “As a member of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Pharmacy Team, Charlene is always willing to offer her assistance to others. She is never intimidated by the task at hand. She looks to every challenge as an opportunity to gain knowledge and it is clear she strives to do her best every day.”

These days, Charlene is enjoying her new life, and is quick to encourage those who feel stuck in their lives to make a change, exclaiming, “I think anyone can do it! I don’t have a special formula…I’m special, but everybody is special. I’m just as special as everybody else. You just have to be determined and focused and remember that you’re doing it for yourself. Don’t get overwhelmed, thinking about all the different things that have to happen in order for you to succeed, just take things one day at a time and focus on doing what you can do each day to help you get to where you want to be.”