You’re looking for a career in the Pharmacy industry? Specifically, as a Pharmacy Technician? Great news- we’re here to help you understand how to become a Pharmacy Technician and get to grips with the role.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
You’ll work alongside qualified Pharmacists to accurately and securely protect patient prescriptions. Your role isn’t just counting pills and popping labels on bottles (It’s not quite like the we see in the movies). Your roles and responsibilities are far greater than this and you are essentially the Pharmacists ‘right hand man’. Your responsibilities will include tracking insurance claims all the way to preparing unique medications for clinical use. It’s fair to say that every day would be different.
The chances are, you’ll have met and interacted with a Pharmacy Technician if you’ve ever picked up some medication from a Pharmacy. You would be always working under a pharmacist and would typically be in between customer and Pharmacist in an average day. Most interaction to the public in a Pharmacy is to the Pharmacy Technician.
Depending on which pharmacy setting you choose to work your duties will consist of mixing, measuring, and compounding medication in preparation for collection. You will also communicate regularly between doctors’ offices to confirm medications for dosages and repeat prescriptions.
What exactly does a Pharmacy Technician do?
Dependant on the setting you’ve chosen, your roles and responsibilities will differ. The direct change to the duties is between Retail and Healthcare. The main difference is that in a retail setting you will be public facing dealing with the public in more of a customer service role and in a healthcare setting you’ll be behind the scenes a lot and will deliver medication to doctors and other healthcare professionals.
According to Nurse.org these are the duties you may be required to undertake:
“Counting or measuring the accurate amount of medications
Mixing compounds of medications
Contacting physicians for authorization to refill prescriptions
Packaging and labelling prescriptions.
Collecting patient information and payments
Recording patient medical records
Updating medication inventory information
Processing insurance paperwork
Assisting with vaccinations
Operating automated dispensing systems
Advising patients on medications
Organizing and ordering inventory
Answering phone calls from customers
Arranging for customers to speak with pharmacists
Accepting payment for prescriptions and processing insurance claims”
They go on to explain that you are required above all to follow customer service conduct as it is heavily public based.
How do I become a Pharmacy Technician?
Let’s get down to the important details. You want to know how to start this amazing career choice!
Years ago all Pharmacy Technicians could gain their ‘qualification’ through being trained on the job. This option is still available, however most of the Pharmacy Technicians choose to join formal training programmes. This allows them the confidence to deal with skilled medication and to be able to deal with patients/customer in a safe and correct way. It also provides you with more career options in different states.
The two recognised training programmed to follow as a Pharmacy Technicians are: a Certificate or Diploma programme and the Associate degree program. Below are the two course types and the information you need to consider prior to choosing your course type.
Pharmacy Technician Certificate or Diploma Programme
This course will take you a year or 2 semesters. Some states do require you to pass an exam after completing this course in order to officially pass. You’ll see this in greater detail towards the backend of the blog.
During the course duration you will learn the following:
Compounding sterile preparations
Institutional Pharmacy Practice
Introduction to Health Professions
And other modules.
All are a valuable opportunity to delve into the Pharmacy world.
Pharmacy Technicians Associate Degree Program
This course option gives you a deeper look into the pharmacy world and will provide you a wealth of knowledge prior to becoming a licenced Pharmacy Technician. This course takes two years to complete , therefor you will learn all the above and far more on this programme. The details given to these modules will be highly detailed and you’ll also have opportunity to complete an in person clinical training programme and a Pharmacy practice internship. (Which often leads into fulltime employment)
When deciding which programme suits you better its worth considering what you’re end goals look like to you. If your budget is lower and you’d like to work quicker, it’s worth considering the first option of a diploma program. However, if you choose the degree, you will naturally be in more demand with future employers due to the amount more you’ve dedicated to your career.
Do I need a licence to perform duties of a Pharmacy Technician?
After completing your Pharmacy Technician training you will need a licence. This is provided by a government agency who have the capacity to prove you are competent to complete the duties of a pharmacy technicians.
There are a small number of states that do not require you to have a licence to perform as a pharmacy technician. However, your duties and salary will be dictated by the lack of licence. It is always the best option to gain this licence/registration. You will no longer be limited by state.
An alternative of the licence is a certification. This certificate comes through a third-party agency and not your state agency. Issuing bodies would be- Pharmacy Technicians Board (PTB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
Both bodies will require you to complete an exam- Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). This certification will last two years only. There are numerous certification programmes available through the PTCB.These are all outlines below:
Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) - Must be renewed every two years by completing a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education
Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician (CSPT) - demonstrates expertise in compounded sterile preparation practice
Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) – demonstrates advanced experience as a pharmacy technician
Medication History Certificate – demonstrates the knowledge needed to collect in-depth and accurate medical histories, to review prescriptions to confirm dosing accuracy, and more.
Technician Product Verification Certificate – demonstrates ability to protect patients from dispensing errors
Hazardous Drug Management Certificate – demonstrates commitment to minimizing risk from hazardous drugs
Billing and Reimbursement Certificate – demonstrates knowledge of third-party payers and reimbursements systems
Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention Certificate – demonstrates knowledge of controlled substance diversion protection strategies and DEA requirements
Immunization Certificate – demonstrates knowledge and skills needed to safely administer vaccinations to patients.
We hope this blog has given you some insight into what it takes and how to become a Pharmacy Technician. We wish you the best of luck for your career path and when you are officially qualified get in touch and we’ll help you finding a role.