Pharmacy technicians work with pharmacists to help prepare and give out prescription medication. Working in pharmacies and hospitals, pharmacy techs do a lot behind the counter. They take prescriptions over the phone and in person, work with health professionals and customers, help mix medicines, count pills, measure medication, label and give instructions for medicine, and help make payments. Pharmacy techs are the liaison between the public and pharmacists, helping set up consultations and recommendations.
Pharmacy technicians are responsible for handling all aspects of the prescription fulfillment process and assisting the pharmacist with day-to-day operations.
Helps health care providers and patients by greeting them in person and by phone; answering questions and requests; referring inquiries to the pharmacist.
Maintains pharmacy inventory by checking pharmaceutical stock to determine inventory level; anticipating needed medications and supplies; placing and expediting orders; verifying receipt; removing outdated drugs.
Maintains a safe and clean pharmacy by complying with procedures, rules, and regulations.
Protects patients and employees by adhering to infection-control policies and protocols.
Organizes medications for pharmacist to dispense by reading medication orders and prescriptions; preparing labels; calculating quantities; assembling intravenous solutions and other pharmaceutical therapies.
Maintains records by recording and filing physicians' orders and prescriptions.
Generates revenues by calculating, recording, and issuing charges.
Ensures medication availability by delivering medications to patients and departments.
Prepares reports by collecting and summarizing information.
Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the accrediting body for pharmacy technician programs. ASHP-certified programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools. Most certificate programs can be completed within a year or less, while associate degree programs typically take two years to complete.
Most programs allow students to gain clinical experience during their training. Depending on state laws, students may also choose to gain on-the-job training without enrolling in a postsecondary education program. Clinical experience may take the form of a structured training program at a retail drugstore that has partnered with the school. Another option is to complete hands-on training at an approved pharmacy or medical center.
Some states require pharmacy technicians to become certified. Even in states where certification is not required, most employers will only hire pharmacy techs that are certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). The PTCB requires applicants to pass an exam, while the NHA requires students to complete a training program or have at least one year of experience working as a technician. Both organizations require applicants to have a high school diploma.
Some pharmacy technicians choose to work exclusively for a retail drugstore chain and will complete specialized training to serve as a general pharmacy technician, community pharmacy technician or central pharmacy operations technician, or in a similar role.
Pharmacy techs need to pass a recertification exam every two years. They need to complete at least 20 hours of continuing education before sitting for the recertification exam.
A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. These programs introduce students to basic concepts in pharmaceutical technology, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacology. They typically include a combination of classroom learning and lab training so that students learn how to dispense medication, prepare sterile products, and manage prescription orders.
Administration of medication
Basic measurement systems and best practices
Mathematical techniques and methodologies used in pharmacies
Managing medication use
Sterile product preparation and administration
Hospital pharmacy operations
Basic guidelines for working in a hospital setting
Role of the pharmacy technician in a hospital setting
Food Drug and Cosmetic Act
Master laws regulating dispensing
Civil legal precepts relevant to pharmacy practice
Identify legal and ethical issues in the practice of Pharmacy
Ethical considerations for different customer situations
Pharmacy technician codes of conduct
Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
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