ASHDOWN, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – In Little River County, a new program is being offered at Ashdown High School and it allows students to graduate with a certification in the pharmacy industry.

Ashdown HS Instructor Amy Silva usually teaches Science courses. Now, she also teaches a brand new Pharmacy Technician class.

“I was excited! I found another school in Little Rock that was offering a Pharmacy Tech program and once I realized I was eligible to teach the class I was excited to bring that certification to our school,” Silva said.

A student in the class says getting hands-on experience gives her a jump start in the pharmacy career field.

“We’re going to be certified after this and we can go right into getting a pharmacy technician job so for other people in other schools who didn’t have this opportunity it will probably take them longer and it might be more difficult but they’ll get the same certification,” Pharmacy Tech student Reba Mahaffey said.

“They’ll get the same education it’s just that we got it a little bit earlier.”

Not only is the program beneficial inside the classroom and for further education, but the instructor said it’s helpful knowing how to read the label and make decisions at a pharmacy.

“I looked into the research of what jobs in Arkansas are growing and are needed. And there are eight of the top ten jobs in Arkansas that are the fastest-growing are in health care. And so anything we can do to encourage our students to look into the health care field or go ahead and achieve some of those certifications so they can step into that arena right off out of high school is going to benefit them,” Silva said.

Silva says it is important to maintain a drug-free school so instead of practicing with actual pills the students put beans in the prescription bottles donated by local pharmacies.

“We’ve actually had a great partnership with some of the local pharmacies.”

Silva currently has 14 students and she expects tmore students will apply next year.

In addition to taking the course, students must pass a national exam.