What Can a Pharmacy Tech Do?
We’ve all dealt with a pharmacy technician at one point or another. Usually, when we need to get some over-the-counter medications.
Pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, but they’re different from pharmacists. They both deal with medication but have different responsibilities and formal education.
The pharmacist’s duties are currently extending further into patient care. This means a pharmacist technician’s duties will extend too. Pharmacy technicians are vital to healthcare facilities and pharmacy operations. But what do they do?
What’s the Difference Between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacists dispense prescription medication, and pharmacy technicians can do the same. In fact, pharmacy technicians have some of the same responsibilities that pharmacists have.
Pharmacists have to go through more formal training. This is so that they can gain extensive knowledge of drugs. This enables them to check prescriptions and advise on medication safety and use.
Pharmacist technicians don’t advise on medication, so their formal training is slightly different. The kind of training necessary for a pharmacy technician differs from state to state. However, most states regulate pharmacy technicians, so they will still need to pass an exam.
Pharmacy technicians work under pharmacists, filling prescriptions, mixing medications, and creating labels. Pharmacy technicians are the ones who receive your prescription and get it ready for you.
You can consider pharmacist technicians the last line of defense. After other health professionals have sent out the prescription, they check it to be safe.
They should catch any errors the doctor or nurse might have made and ask for clarification. For example, the technician might notice that certain prescription medications counteract one another. At this point, they’d consult with the doctor or pharmacist before proceeding.
While speaking to the patient, the pharmacy technician can gain valuable information. This can inform their decision to dispense the instructed prescription medication.
What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?
A pharmacy technician works closely with pharmacists. In fact, they are under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. Their role is to assist in the pharmacy and keep it running smoothly in a number of ways.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pharmacy technician does a variety of things in a pharmacy:
- They package and label prescriptions.
- They verify medical insurance information and process insurance claims.
- They help by providing customer service, such as collecting payments and answering phones. They also refer patients and customers to a pharmacist. They do this if the patients have medication questions.
- They take inventory of the medication in the pharmacy.
- They enter prescription orders into the pharmacy computer system.
- They measure, count, and mix medications as necessary.
- They refill automated dispensing equipment.
Necessary skills for a pharmacy technicians
Pharmacist technicians play a vital role as a go-between between customers and pharmacists.
Anyone who wants to fill this role has to have some people skills. They have to be comfortable interacting with customers, patients, and other healthcare professionals.
This is not a job where one can make a mistake, especially not when they’re dispensing prescription medication. It’s important to be detail-oriented. This prevents any serious health problems or potential complications.
It’s important for a pharmacist technician to be a good listener. This is so that they can communicate well with their patients and other health professionals.
They can determine whether the patient needs to consult a pharmacist or doctor. They can also better understand what orders or prescriptions doctors are giving over the phone. Lastly, they can communicate well with other pharmacy professionals.
Math skills are very important when it comes to counting and compounding medications.
Pharmacist technicians need great organizational skills to be able to stay on top of their duties and responsibilities.
Where does a pharmacy technician work?
You can find pharmacy technicians in the places you might expect. Such as; retail pharmacies, community pharmacies, and drug stores.
The truth is, you can find pharmacy technicians working anywhere you can go to have a prescription filled. The hours a pharmacy technician works depend on the location of the pharmacy. If the pharmacy is open 24/7, the pharmacy technician will likely have to work long or overnight hours.
This means you can find pharmacy technician jobs in hospitals and grocery stores. Pharmacy technician jobs can also be found at prisons, mail-order pharmacies, nursing homes, and in other healthcare facilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technicians earn an annual average salary of $36,740.
The employment market for pharmacy technicians is projected to increase by 5% between 2021 and 2031, with about 43500 job openings every year. This rate is as fast as the average rate for all occupations.
Pharmacy technicians earn more money working in a hospital setting than anywhere else. The average salary is $38,270 for hospitals. The average salary is $36 090 for food and beverage stores. The average salary is $35 940 for pharmacies and drug stores.
It is also possible for pharmacy technicians to advance in their careers. They can also choose to specialize if they want to. Many pharmacy technicians become pharmacists or managers. They may also branch out into the pharmaceutical industry and becomes pharmaceutical representatives.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacists have to go through a rigorous training program, but it’s a little different for pharmacy technicians.
While many pharmacy technicians take certificate programs, they don’t have to. Taking a postsecondary education program or getting a postsecondary degree isn’t a necessity.
Most pharmacy technicians learn from work experience or on-the-job training. Becoming a pharmacy technician is also a great way to fast-track your way into being a pharmacist. Or to fast-track into working in pharmacy services.
If you’re still in high school, you should consider taking biology and chemistry courses.
To become a pharmacy technician, you need to have a high school diploma. You need the equivalent on-the-job training if you don’t have a diploma. Having a high school diploma or the equivalent is mandatory.
An associate’s degree can take up to 2 years to complete. This often includes practical work like an internship. With students, then taking their Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) afterward.
Pharmacy technicians usually take their certification exam and get certified through a board. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Depending on the chosen certificate program, a student can find a program that includes training in a pharmacy. They may also find a certificate program that takes about 9 months to be completed.
A certified pharmacy technician has been recognized as competent by a qualified board. These credentials aren’t necessary to work as a pharmacy technician in every state.
The different requirements that pharmacy technicians need to meet to practice differ from state to state. Some states require their pharmacy technicians to be certified before they can practice. Other states only require that they take exams, have continuing education, and pass background checks.
Becoming a pharmacy technician is a great career path to follow. Especially if you love to help people and interact with them but don’t want to get too involved in the medical industry. This is also a great choice if you’re looking to find a career in pharmacy services with projected growth.
There’s also the option of advancing your career and becoming a manager or pharmacist. You can also specialize in something related, such as pharmacy technology.