Central Cass High School and Essentia Health Launch Innovative Pharmacy Technician Program

group of students with white coats on standing together

Central Cass High School, in collaboration with Essentia Health and multiple esteemed partners, is excited to announce the launch of an innovative Pharmacy Technician Program. This pioneering initiative aims to address the significant pharmacy technician shortage in North Dakota while providing students with valuable career opportunities. Key contributors to the program include the State of ND technical skill match programs, North Dakota State University – School of Pharmacy, North Dakota Board of Pharmacy, North Dakota Society of Health-System Pharmacists, North Dakota State University Collaboration for Advancement in Pharmacy (CAP) Center, Essentia Health, and community pharmacists.


The program's genesis traces back to a networking session at the Casselton Connect Meeting in April 2022, where the idea was first brainstormed by the superintendent of Central Cass School and the Essentia pharmacy leader. Recognizing the workforce challenges in the pharmacy profession and the growing interest in health science among high school students, the concept quickly garnered support from various stakeholders across North Dakota. Central Cass High School was selected as the initial pilot site due to its strong community relationships, medium class sizes, rural setting ideal for statewide replication, and proximity to Essentia Health Fargo.


Since Spring 2022, Essentia Health, North Dakota State College of Science, and Central Cass have been meeting regularly to discuss the project's implementation. The program, based on an accredited Pharmacy Tech-in-Training (PATSIM) curriculum, is structured to provide dual credit opportunities, tuition reimbursement, and hands-on internship experiences at Essentia Health. This initiative not only aims to mitigate workforce shortages but also offers students a unique pathway to explore careers in healthcare, ultimately benefiting the broader community. As the program advances, we look forward to expanding within Cass County and beyond, ensuring that dreams of collaboration and service to patients in North Dakota continue to thrive.


All of the students in this year’s program will be working as Pharmacy Technicians this Summer at Essentia Health locations. 


Melissa Krava, Associate Professor and Pharmacy Technician Program Director for NDSCS, was thrilled at the results of this pilot program. “We could not be prouder of the newest Pharmacy Technicians in the state of North Dakota! We had tremendous support for this program from C3TEC, Essentia Health and from Central Cass High School. This program proves that career dreams can come true—even while still in high school—and will continue to be a great service to North Dakota, helping to fill what is currently a large employment gap.