Skills Training Incentive Program Helps Pharmacy Recruit Employees

When Ndidiamaka “Didi” Okpareke decided it would be a good time to add employees, she found a way to get help paying them: from the state of New Mexico.

In December, New Mexico’s Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) awarded grants to six companies, including Okpareke’s Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy in the Unser Corridor, for a total of $2.3 million.

The December scholarships funded a total of 196 interns, with salaries ranging from $15.56 to $33.75 per hour.

Four companies have benefited from the JTIP for the training of one or two employees only. It was the first time Okpareke had made such a request, so she was surprised and happy to learn that it would be granted.

Unique to the city of vision, Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy, 1920 Westside Blvd., Suite B, will use its grant to train a full-time technician and a full-time pharmacist, Okpareke said, at an average salary of $33.75 , or $70,200 per year.

“The challenge is finding people who fit the roles,” she said, and it’s a business that’s been in turnover. “COVID has really changed the job market.”

His patients typically can’t find the prescriptions they need at mainstream pharmacies, like Walgreens and CVS.

“Our medicines are highly specialized and absolutely necessary for our patients,” Okpareke said.

Compound pharmacies, she explained, represent “the art and science of creating medicine.”

Here for five years, her business has outgrown her site, and after buying an acre of land nearby, Okpareke is going to have a new building built where she can “set up my lab and teach them pharmacy.”

Ndidiamaka “Didi” Okpareke, owner of Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy, mixes prescription pharmaceuticals. (Gary Herron/Observer)

A first-generation Nigerian-American, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up.

She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from Sandia High School in 2001, after the family moved to Albuquerque.

“I’ve always liked to dance; I’m also artistic and creative,” she said, adding that she enjoyed science, technology, engineering and math classes.

She attended the University of New Mexico, completed her undergraduate studies in three years, then earned a doctorate in pharmacy in 2008.

She has extensive experience in hospital and retail pharmacy and has a strong knowledge of pediatric, neonatal, general and geriatric pharmaceutical care.

Mother of three children, she became an entrepreneur in January 2016, with the creation of Olive Tree.

How nice to lay down

“We are seeing more demand than ever from companies wanting to expand to New Mexico and hire more employees or train existing workers so they can learn new skills for higher wages,” said Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said in a news release. .

“Even if it’s one or two new hires at a time, JTIP encourages companies to invest in their workforce today,” Keyes added, “so New Mexico can experience a stronger and more resilient economic recovery.”

Send the kids to camp

You’ve heard of summer camp, sports camp, music camp, scout camp, or some other type of outdoor camp, and you may even have participated.

How about a Compound Pharmacy Camp?

Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy bills it as an “intriguing and engaging program…designed to spark your child’s interest in science, math, technology, and the daily life of a compounding pharmacist!”

It’s called the Children’s Apothecary; there, kids handcraft and take home their own fun, kid-friendly compound products, such as flavored drops applied under the tongue; Vitamin E Healing Hand Cream and Vitamin C Lozenges.

For more information about Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy, call 505-738-3328 or visit [email protected]

Ryan H. Bowman