What is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy Technicians are techs who help pharmacists prepare prescription medications, provide general customer service and perform certain administrative duties while working at a pharmacy.
Pharmacy techs are usually responsible for noting prescription requests, counting out tablets for prescriptions, and correctly labeling prescription bottles. In certain pharmacy settings, a pharmacy aide may be on hand to perform the more administrative duties — for example, stocking shelves, answering phones, and working at the pharmacy’s cash register. However, some pharmacies do not hire pharmacy aides, and pharmacy technicians are instead responsible for these duties.
Pharmaceutical technicians may choose to work at various types of pharmacies. The choice of pharmacy will have an effect on a pharmacy technician’s duties and daily job experience.
For example, retail and mail-order pharmacies operate differently than hospital and nursing home pharmacies. Retail pharmacies . A retail pharmacy will receive prescriptions from hospitals and clinics from outside the pharmacy, rather than from within a hospital setting.
The prescription can be written and give by the patient, or –this is currently more common — an electronic prescription direct from doctor’s offices. Some states allow retail pharmacies to process prescription requests through phone calls. A hospital or nursing facility pharmacy typically receives prescription requests from patients within that same facility.
A pharmacy technician will receive and note the arrival of a prescription request. A retail pharmacy technician must first completely verify the information on the prescription, to ensure that the prescription is legal and accurate. Then, the pharmacy technician will prepare the prescription container to be filled. To do this, they must prepare the proper prescription labels, and attach the prescription and any additional required labels to the container.
Most techs are responsible for counting out proper prescriptions, in addition to filling the container with the exact amount of medication prescribed to the patient. The prescription container is then priced and filed, however it is checked over by a pharmacist before it is finally given to the correct patient.
Some employees may also be required to do certain clerical duties, such as maintain patient records and preparing insurance claim forms. Although pharmacy technicians may handle a certain level of customer inquiries, they must refer questions regarding medical prescriptions, information about medicine, or any health matters to the pharmacist on duty.
While retail pharmacy technicians work in an environment relatively separate from patients, pharmacy technicians who work at hospital, nursing home or assisted-living pharmacies have a higher level of patient interaction and additional duties to perform.
The job of a pharmacy aide and a pharmacy technician can often overlap. However, although a pharmacy technician may perform the clerical duties of a pharmacy aide, a pharmacy aide will not perform the medical duties of a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy aides do not handle prescriptions or deal with the prepared medications.
Training & Certification
Currently, there is no national or federal standard for training pharmacy technicians. However, employers will favor potential employees who have previous experience or some sort of formal training or certification as a pharmacy technician. Some states require that a pharmacy technician have at least a high school diploma or its adult equivalent. Although on the job training is common as a pharmacy technicians, any formal training or certification will increase your chances of getting hired in the field.
There are several different education and training programs that will result in a pharmacy technician certificate or degree. These programs can range from a 6 month certificate to a two year Associate’s degree. Most programs will be a combination of classroom, laboratory and internship work.
Someone studying to become a pharmacy technician can expect to study several medical and mathematical courses. The most frequent subjects of study are medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmacy or medical record keeping, pharmacy or medical law and ethics, and pharmaceutical calculations. Many programs also require courses outside the strictly pharmaceutical field, such as general mathematics and other medical ethic courses.
Above all, pharmacy technicians require a keen sense of detail and accuracy. Prescription labels, dosage instructions, and patient information must all be completely accurate. The number of pills in each prescription container must also be accurate, so a good level of mathematical skill is also required. Although prescriptions are checked over by pharmacists, a pharmacy technician should be able to catch any mistakes before the medicine possibly transfers to a patient.
High memory skills are also a requirement for pharmacy technicians, who must memorize information about the medications they work with. Pharmacy technicians are required t learn the names, uses, actions and correct dosages of the medications they work with.
Pharmacy technicians should have good interpersonal skills, as they are often required to handle minimal amounts of customer service and patient interaction. Pharmacy technicians should be able to communicate problems to pharmacists or other coworkers clearly.
A pharmacy technician spends most of their day on their feet, and may be required to do heavy lifting or climb high stepladders.
The schedule of a pharmacy technician can vary depending on their place of employment and the traffic of the pharmacy. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours a day in some capacity, while others have more regular schedules. A pharmacy technician working at a retail pharmacy is more likely to have regular hours than a technician at a hospital or nursing home pharmacy, where on-site care is provided 24 hours a day.
Salary & Prospective Job Market
The employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to rise by 25 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is must faster than average. One of the major factions for the rise in employment of pharmacy technicians is the increased amount of middle aged and elderly people, who (on average) use more prescription drugs than younger age groups. This will increase the demand for pharmacy workers needed to handle the increased customer load. More workers will also be needed as medical advances lead to new drugs to treat more conditions, and as the amount of people who can obtain prescription drug coverage increases.
However, the ever increasing job market comes with an increase in employee responsibility. As more companies begin to consolidate employment roles, the role of the pharmacy technicians will expand to other areas of the pharmacy. They may be required to handle duties performed my pharmacy aides, whose employment is expected to decrease slightly from 2008 to 20018. Pharmacy technicians may be required to perform more of the administrative duties such as making sure shelves are stocked, interacting with patients and customers, and dealing with phone lines.
Pharmacy technicians with more years of experience and formal training or certification will have more employment opportunities than those without.
The typical pay for pharmacy technicians is $9.00 to $20.00 per hour. Certified technicians typically earn more than non-certified technicians.