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A Pharmacy Technician assists a pharmacist. They work under supervision
of a qualified pharmacist to prepare prescriptions, provide customer
services as well as some doing some administrative duties. They
might also be able to offer advice to members of the public. If
someone is worried about a health issue, sometimes talking to a
pharmacy technician or pharmacist can guide them as to whether they
should consult a physician or not.
They can work in retail where they may operate a cash register
and according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 75% of pharmacy
technicians work in this area. As they are dealing directly with
the public they need good communication skills.
They can also work in hospitals, nursing homes or long term care
facilities where they might prepare sterile solutions, stock shelves,
deliver medication to nurses and physicians and record the information
on patients records. The might also prepare insurance forms. They
are on their feet a great deal and often have to lift heavy boxes.
A pharmacy technician needs to be in good health and fit for these
What Training Does a Pharmacy Technician Need?
There is no national standard but a high school diploma is useful
because they need good reading, writing and maths skills to decipher
and fill prescriptions.
Many train on the job but employers are more likely to favor those
who are certified. Courses can be found in colleges and vocational
colleges. These courses will include; medical and pharmaceutical
terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping,
pharmacy techniques, as well as laws and ethics relating to pharmacy
work. They also need to know and understand the names, actions,
uses and doses of medications. This is detailed and precise work.
Possible qualifications are a high school diploma, a certificate
or an associated degree. Some pharmacy technicians decide, after
experiencing the work, to further their education and become pharmacists
in their own right.
In most States, pharmacy technicians are registered with the State
Board of pharmacology. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board
and Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy pharmacy technicians
administer the examinations. Many employers will reimburse the cost
of the exams. The applicant must have no felony convictions and
every two years the certification must be done again. This maintains
As with many other professions there is continuous education and
twenty hours annually is expected. This can be earned in colleges,
pharmacies and pharmacy training programs. Ten hours of continuous
education can be earned on the job under the supervision of a pharmacist.
The need to be up to date with drugs, techniques and ideas is important
to provide a good and safe service to users.
Good customer service and communication skills are useful for anyone
dealing with the public. Basic maths, spelling and reading need
to be competent because of the need to interpret prescriptions and
verify dosage. Precision in this work is vital. A small error of
numbers can have a seriously adverse effect on patients.
There is not much opportunity for advancement beyond a supervisory
role in a large organization which is why some pharmacy technicians
choose to become pharmacists. At the same time the opportunities
for this work are growing and it seems there will be an increasing
amount of pharmacy technicians needed in the future.
The American Association of Pharmacy Technicians was formed in
1979 to encourage professional recognition of pharmacy technicians.
Another objective is to encourage the development of formal training.
A pharmacy technician provides useful information and a valuable
service to the public. This is work which might appeal to someone
interested in the medical aspects but who is not willing to train
in any other field of medicine.