Pharmacy Technician – What Exactly Do They Do

Choosing the job you want is not like choosing what course to take in college or what dish you want to be served. It’s definitely much harder. At least in college, you only need to sacrifice four to five years of your life, unless you’re inclined to take it further and get a master’s degree. But choosing the right place of employment can potentially affect you for a lifetime so one must choose wisely before making a decision.

In this article, we are going to explore the job description, specifications and qualifications needed to become a pharmacy technician.

The first question one should ask is… what is a pharmacy technician and what does a pharmacy technician do? First of all, a pharmacy technician is not a pharmacist. A pharmacist must have a degree in pharmacy. On the other hand, a pharmacy technician isn’t burdened with the same requirements and responsibilities.

In a nutshell, a pharmacy technician is an assistant pharmacist but has job responsibilities one step higher than that of a pharmacist aide.

Let’s break down the official definition of pharmacy technicians’ job title into two parts. The pharmacist or pharmacy aspect of the job requires you to have a working knowledge of drugs and medicine. A pharmacy technician must also know the difference between cough tablets and aspirin and have the knowledge to navigate the fine line between headache pills and tablets to help relieve PMS and they must also be able to handle the basic operations of a pharmacy if the pharmacist is on vacation or nowhere to be found.

The technical aspect of the job also requires the pharmacy technician to have exemplary organizational skills and they may be also be required to label medicine bottles and categorize them under the correct name or group – the 100 mg label must go on the 100 mg bottle. Just one error, one tiny oversight could result in very negative consequences for a patient.

Other tasks include being able to work under pressure because there will be days that the drugstore or pharmacy where you work has people lined up to get their prescriptions filled.

As a pharmacy technician, you will also be responsible for supplying aid to licensed pharmacists as they provide patients with medication and other healthcare products. A well trained, competent pharmacy technician must therefore be knowledgeable enough to suggest alternative brands for off the counter medication but alternatives for prescribed medication is solely the responsibility of licensed pharmacists.

A pharmacy technician is sometimes required to perform certain manual tasks like labeling bottles, counting pills or doing inventory. In some areas of the country, the tasks of a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist aide overlap so don’t be surprised if on occasion, you end up being asked to complete tasks meant for the latter. This could include acting as a cashier, answering phone inquiries, stocking shelves and other clerical duties. While there are several pharmacy technician duties that a pharmacist aide can never perform, there are few pharmacist aide tasks that a pharmacy technician cannot perform.

The job responsibilities of a pharmacy technician can vary depending on the type of business the pharmacy they work at is located in. For example, a pharmacy technician is usually assigned to handle orders sent through courier or even email in a mail order pharmacy and upon verification that the order is correctly and properly filled up, the pharmacist technician is then required to do the actual counting, weighing and mixing of the prescription.

On the other hand, in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and so forth a pharmacy technician may have the added responsibilities of record filing and the updating of patient files – especially those related a patient’s medication.

If the allure of a pharmacy technician career appeals to you, check out the links below.

Pharmacist Career – Is It For You?

Choosing the career you would like to pursue is clearly much more important than choosing what clothes to wear for that big party or what cake you want for dessert. It’s definitely much harder and complicated and it’s one that will directly affect your life to next five, ten or even twenty years so it must be done with care and wisdom.

The healthcare industry has continued to grow over the past decade and it will continue to do so with as the American population continues to age and therefore an in demand career will definitely be that of a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.

Becoming a pharmacist is a noble profession but it certainly doesn’t have the prestige of a brain surgeon or other medical professional titles but it’s a solid career and one that more and more are turning to help ensure a good living and job security.

Although pharmacists makes a decent living most pharmacists don’t make what would be considered a high salary unless that attain a position in a top-level research project undertaken to make innovations in the drug industry but the responsibility and importance of a pharmacist must be underestimated and undervalued.

To become a pharmacist, you must first earn a pharmacist degree from a college or university which is recognized by the Educational Board in your state and accredited by the American Council on Pharmacy Education or ACPE. Upon graduation, you must then pass certain examinations in order to receive a license to practice in your chosen field.

The major pharmacist examinations are the North America Pharmacist License Examination or NAPLEX and the Multistate Pharmacist Jurisprudence Examination or MPJE – both are administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. You may also be required to pass additional examinations, depending on the rules in your state so it’s better to check with the state authorities regarding their particular requirements. In addition, if you plan on moving to another state, you may also be required to pass that states’ pharmacist examinations.

A pharmacist is usually given the job of managing a pharmacy or drugstore. They are assigned to provide drugs to patients that have been prescribed by doctors and other healthcare practitioners. A pharmacist is also required to supply information to patients regarding other drugs, like the best brands when it comes to over the counter drugs. The pharmacist is also responsible for supervising others workers in the pharmacy like pharmacy technicians and pharmacist aides. In many instances, a pharmacist must double check the work of his subordinates in order to make sure that no error has been committed.

In hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other healthcare facilities, the responsibilities and degree of authority given to pharmacists goes a notch higher. A pharmacist advises doctors on the selection of medicine, the side effects of each particular drug and the optimal dosages.

Pharmacists are expected to have an extensive knowledge on the composition of drugs, their uses and potential patient side affects. With all the questions a pharmacist receives regarding medicines they distribute they must be very knowledgeable and attentive to what advice they offer because of the potential consequences of offering poor advice.

The role of a pharmacist takes on a more social context in small town pharmacies. The pharmacist can sometimes be tagged as some sort of guardian towards the younger generation, advising on issues such as pre-marital sex, birth control pills and the proper use of sleeping pills or tranquilizers. Pharmacists may also play the role as counselor towards those who request information and maybe be asked to make personal healthcare suggestions.

Another career path that some pharmacists take is that of Research and Development with the drug companies. The reason behind this is normally financially based because they have the opportunity to earn a much higher salary. However, in order to secure these types or job one must have exceptional skills and total commitment.

On the other hand, some pharmacists prefer to work for insurance agencies and work as a consultant for health concerns. Other pharmacists however prefer what they say is the most noble of all professions and teach classes in high school and college.

If the allure of a pharmacist or pharmacy technician career appeals to you, check out the links below.

Pharmacy Tech Jobs

A pharmacy technician is a pharmacy staff member who works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy tech jobs include performing the pharmacy related work such as providing medications and other health care products to patients in the stead of a pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians also work with insurance companies and other third party establishments to negotiate the distribution and payment of the medication. Pharmacy tech jobs include the day to day accounting work as well as the filling of prescribed medications and providing those drugs to the patients. Pharmacy technicians also give the necessary knowledge to the patients as far as drug interactions and potential over the counter solutions to their medical issues. In hospital settings, pharmacy tech jobs include monitoring the operation management of the dispensary and manufacturing units. Many pharmacy technicians have only on the job training. This is due to no certification being available until recently. Now that there is certification, many retail stores ask that their employees get certified before they are hired.

Each location is different for a pharmacy technician. Some pharmacy tech jobs require the pharmacy technician to handle the mundane tasks of answering the telephone, handling money and stocking shelves. Data entry is not out of the reach of the pharmacy technician either as well as other odd jobs the pharmacist may assign. In a hospital setting a pharmacy assistant will tackle these jobs leaving the pharmacy technician to stick directly to handling the medications.

With the public consciousness growing, pharmacy technicians will likely be given more responsibilities to handle. Pharmacists will be loaded with more pressures and responsibilities and the pharmacy tech jobs will grow to include more than just the dispensing of medications. The pharmacist must be available to consult and advise the patients and thus the technicians will be required to handle some of this load conceivably.

Pharmacy tech jobs in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities also take care of other responsibilities. They will read patient charts and discern the need for prescriptions in the future. Of course the pharmacy technician will have their work by a physician and a pharmacist, but the more experience the pharmacy technician has, the more likely they will be consulted. Pharmacy tech jobs will also include the delivery of the medications to the nurses in the hospital. The pharmacy technicians may be called to oversee any robotic organizational systems that handle the medications. Additionally, the pharmacy technician will organize 24-hour supplies of medications for every patient in the health care facility. The pharmacy technician will label every dose of medication separately by hand or with packaging machines. The packages are coordinated with a computer using bar codes. This makes it possible to automate pharmacy drug delivery. The package that is labeled by name, dose and expiration is catalogued in a computer then the pharmacy technician places it on the shelf (unless it is done automatically by a robot). The pharmacy technician will organize the shelves then deliver the medications to where they need to go. This is a growing and lucrative field as the need for quality healthcare increases.

Pharmacy Technician Job – Three Strategies For Getting A Job

As I searched on EzineArticles for pharmacy technician jobs, I found many good articles written on how to become a pharmacy technician, or various reasons why you should become a pharmacy technician. In general, they all make good points and provide useful information. It has made me think about what we are missing. I do not want to simply rehash the same topics and then add a few of my own thoughts. Then it occurred to me, I have a perspective that few people who are writing articles for pharmacy technicians have. I am the person who sits on every interview for pharmacy technicians in my institution’s inpatient pharmacy. Over the course of just one year, I probably interview about 50 to 60 technicians for about 10 to 12 openings. So here it is, what are three things you can do to get a job when you have just obtained your license/certification/registration (depends on your state), still working on your license, or maybe just moved to a new area and want to find a job (this happened to me as a pharmacy tech, and I will share one of my biggest mistakes when looking for a job)?

Volunteer or complete your required hours (depends on your state requirements for licensure/certification) in a pharmacy practice site you would like to work. Many states require you to obtain practice hours before you become a pharmacy technician. If your state does not require hours prior to becoming a pharmacy technician, then pick a set number of hours (40 to 80 hours should do it) and volunteer at a pharmacy. The pharmacy you choose should be a place you would like to work. If you know you want to work in a hospital pharmacy, then do not obtain your hours or volunteer at a community/retail pharmacy. Next, take advantage of this time by showing your practice site how good of a pharmacy technician you are. The traits I look for the most are someone who is a team player, proactive about taking on any work that he/she sees needs completing, and gets a long with other staff. I am looking for is a good fit, not necessarily the smartest tech, but the one who will be a good team member. What this time really amounts to is a trial period where the pharmacy gets to see how you work and you get to see if you really want a job there. I have had a few students who goof off or text for a large portion of their time in my pharmacy. Unfortunately, they will not even make the interview list for the next open position.
Obtain national certification, BLS/CPR, and be active in one of your state’s pharmacy organizations; and make sure you have these items on your resume. Regardless if your state requires you to get nationally certified or not, you should do it. The two major national certifications that are most recognized are the PTCB and the ExCPT. BLS/CPR (basic life support/cardiopulmonary resuscitation – for the most part it is the same thing) is a good additional skill that most pharmacy managers will consider a bonus. It tells them that the applicant is engaged in healthcare and will more likely be engaged as a pharmacy technician. State pharmacy organization (either the state ASHP affiliate or APhA affiliate) participation is another way to show your commitment to the pharmacy profession. In most states, it cost very little to be a member as a technician. Once you are a member, look for the Website link on joining a committee. If you have options, join the committee that sounds like the most fun (I personally like advocacy or legislative). Now be active in your committee, this is a great way to network with pharmacists and other technicians. Pharmacy is a small world, the more connections you make, the better off you will be. Once you have done some or all of this, make sure your update you resume.
Look on company Websites for job openings and not just the local newspaper or online newspaper site. This was my big mistake. After living on the east coast for many years I moved out to the west coast. I began looking for jobs in the local newspaper and there were a few, but not the ones I was most interested in (I was a sterile compounding tech and wanted to work in a hospital or IV infusion setting) were never open. Fortunately for me, a large health-system (the one I currently still work for after 11 years) was hiring a graveyard technician and didn’t get enough applicants from their internal site so they placed a newspaper ad. After I got a job, I found out about the company job postings Website, and I was seriously bummed that I had wasted months not looking in the right place. While you are on the company Website, do some homework about the company so that you can speak about the company during your interview. I will typically ask applicants why they want a job with my company or pharmacy, if you can respond with an answer that shows you have done some homework on the company, that will impress most interviewers (do not over do it or be cheesy, find something you genuinely like about the company).
I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or topics for additional articles, please send them to me by submitting a comment on my Website listed in the author box.