Sterile Laboratory Unparalleled in Pharmacy Education
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Sterile Laboratory Unparalleled in Pharmacy Education

The new facility allows students the opportunity to practice techniques they could previously only simulate.

Written by Mark Hendricks

Each student in the lab has an individual workstation to practice sterile compounding, a process of manufacturing medication products..

Each student in the lab has an individual workstation to practice sterile compounding, a process of manufacturing medication products.

With the completion of a new sterile laboratory, the School of Pharmacy can offer students a specialized type of training that no other U.S. pharmacy school can provide.

Mikala Conatser, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice, will use the new facility to teach second-year pharmacy students in Amarillo how to perform sterile compounding, a process she describes as manufacturing medication products that will be introduced to patients intravenously or through similar methods.

Because these types of medications must be produced in the cleanest possible environments by specially trained staff, sterile rooms must pass an air particle count, a bacterial growth test and meet other requirements specified by United States Pharmacopeia 797.

Raising the Bar

Conatser said she has been unable to locate a similar facility at any other pharmacy school in the country.

“Other schools do offer a sterile compounding course, but this new lab has really raised the bar,” Conatser said. “Each student has their own hood to compound in and they are taught with great detail the proper steps in the process. They garb, wash their hands, clean their hoods and new techniques/processes are introduced each week to help build their foundation as the semester progresses. At the end of the course students will be able to easily compound without risk or fear of needle sticks or contaminating products.”

The 2,000-square-foot facility contains 26 workstations with hoods to teach proper sterile procedures.

A former classroom, the 2,000-square-foot facility now contains 26 workstations with hoods to teach proper sterile procedures.

Amarillo Regional School of Pharmacy Dean Thomas Thekkumkara, Ph.D., said the school paid $520,000 to convert the roughly 2,000-square-foot space from a classroom to a laboratory. The main room contains 26 individual workstations with hoods where students are taught to perform proper sterile procedures. The laboratory space is located at the site of a former classroom on the second floor of the main School of Pharmacy building. The classroom was moved to the school’s Pharmacy Academic Center when that building opened in 2010.

Preparing for the Future

The School of Pharmacy in Abilene has also constructed a sterile laboratory to teach second-year students on its campus.

Conatser said the sterile laboratory provides pharmacy students with an advantage when they graduate and enter the workforce.

“Students who are interested in a hospital-based career will already have a good base knowledge of the sterile compounding process and will be able to easily adapt that to their workplace,” Conatser said. “Students involved in a retail setting will also benefit from the process as they will become more at ease with using needles and pulling up medications, facilitating their ability to give vaccinations to their patients.”

Conatser said the lab reinforces important sterile compounding techniques that students previously could only simulate.

“I’ve talked to members of my own graduating class and other students who took this course before the new lab was built, and this facility has greatly improved knowledge retainment,” Conatser said. “I believe the repetition of performing standard tasks and not having to pretend, but actually being able to sanitize their own work space and make sterile products in each and every lab will be very beneficial in the long run to our students and their future patients.”

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Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.


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School of Pharmacy
School of Pharmacy

The School of Pharmacy was established in 1996 and now has campuses in Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas and Abilene. Since its inception, the school has played a significant role in addressing the state's pharmacist shortage. Today, more than 90 percent of its graduates remain in Texas.

The school requires its students to complete more clinical training hours than any other pharmacy in the country, making its students some of the most sought after pharmacy graduates.

TTUHSC at Amarillo
Amarillo Campus

Students at TTUHSC at Amarillo receive a comprehensive, practical education spanning a broad range of health issues.

The Amarillo campus is home to the schools of pharmacy, medicine, allied health sciences, as well as the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health.

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