How to become a Pharmacy Technician

How to become a Pharmacy Technician

This section deals with students interested in pursuing a pharmacy career starting with ‘how to become a pharmacy technician’. There are numerous places offering information about how to become a pharmacy technician and the role is an excellent first step in pursuing a successful career in pharmacy.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician – personal qualities

First let’s look at the personal qualities and basic skills employers will be looking for when interviewing job candidates: The nature of the work will require you to have:
Basic math, writing, spelling and reading skills
A high level of accuracy and attention to detail
Good interpersonal skills and the ability to work in a team
Good customer service and communication skills
Other advantages may be physical fitness and a willingness to work unsociable hours.

How to become a Pharmacy technician – day to day duties

The primary function of a pharmacy technician is to assist licensed pharmacists. They receive prescriptions not only directly from patients but also from doctors’ offices. Taking prescriptions over the telephone is allowed in certain states of the U.S.

The actual prescription will be made up by the pharmacist but there will usually be some preparation to be carried out by the pharmacy technician such as counting tablets and labelling containers. Depending on the work environment in which the pharmacy technician is employed they may be required to complete insurance claim forms and update patient profiles.

As with many jobs in the health industry, duties vary considerably depending on whether you work in general or private hospitals, private pharmacies, nursing homes, or assisted-living facilities. Additional tasks may include preparing sterile solutions and the personal delivery of medicines to physicians and nurses.

Pharmacy technicians work directly under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist and any questions or concerns regarding prescriptions, general health, and prescribed drugs are referred to the pharmacist.

At this point it is worth pointing out that not all pharmacies and pharmacy departments employ pharmacy aides who carry out routine administrative tasks including stocking shelves, answering the telephone, serving customers, and operating cash registers. If there are no pharmacy aides, as a pharmacy technician you will probably be expected to perform these functions yourself.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician – education, training and qualifications

Registration with the State Board of Pharmacy is required for pharmacy technicians in most states of the U.S. A registration fee is payable and the eligibility criteria, differs from state to state. In states that require a high school diploma to become a pharmacy technician, a diploma will be required to register with the State Board of Pharmacy.
One of the first questions asked at any job interview is ‘do you have any experience?’ Employers usually prefer to take on people with prior experience, but do also expect to provide informal on-the-job training.

Training

Pharmacy technicians are provided with informal on the job training over a period of 3 to 12 month. Additional formal technical training can be provided and once again the type and source of training may be influenced by your place of work. You may be trained in hospitals, vocational schools, community colleges or military establishments.
Formal training will involve laboratory work and classroom study lasting between 6 and 24 months. Topics covered may include:
Pharmaceutical and medical terminology
Pharmaceutical techniques
Pharmaceutical calculations
Pharmacy recordkeeping
Pharmacy law and ethics
Internships are included in most programs where students gain work experience in real pharmacies. Successful completion should lead to certification, a diploma or an associate degree depending on the course of study.

Certification

The National Certification Examinations are administered by The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).
Candidates must have achieved a high school diploma or its equivalent and must have no felony convictions of any kind. Students applying for the PTCB exam must not have any drug-related or pharmacy-related convictions, including misdemeanors.
Recertification is every 2 years involving 20 hours of continuing education within the 2-year certification period. In addition to formal training up, to 10 hours of the continuing education can be covered by on the job training under the supervision and instruction of a licensed pharmacist.
Reputable employers will normally reimburse their employees for the cost of certification exams.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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How to become a Pharmacy Technician

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