Pharmacy Technician Job Description, What It Takes to Become a Pharmacy Technician?

Do you think you have what it takes to become a successful pharmacy technician? Take a look at this in-depth analysis of the typical pharmacy technician job description. If you want to be successful in this career choice, you want to be certain that many of your attributes line up with the mental and physical characteristics needed to perform well seen in the everyday life of many pharmacy technicians.

Let me start out by saying that regardless of what area you pursue (institutional or retail) for the most part, you will be involved in a fast paced environment. Certain times of the day can be stressful for many pharmacy technicians. For example, if you are working in retail you will most likely deal with short-tempered customers that are eager to drop off their prescriptions and be on their way in five minutes or less. There will be insurance issues that you will have to deal with on a regular basis. With the emergence of the internet, you have the added feature for online refills. This adds to the already heavy workload due to drop off prescriptions and phone in prescription refills.

If you are focusing mainly on an institutional setting, your focus will be on hospitalized patients and patients having procedures done in the clinics. This setting has a whole different stress level of its own. For example let’s say a patient is due for some type of surgery, the surgeon realizes that he needs a different IV bag, he calls down to the pharmacy and orders and IV stat. Being the IV room technician, it is your job and responsibility to prepare the IV admixture in record time. More cases than not, this can be a life or death situation. Imagine having the pressure mount on you knowing that you have to prepare this in a timely fashion, but you also have to prepare it with accuracy.

Here’s a general breakdown of the typical pharmacy technician job description for most pharmacy technicians. The main goal for a pharmacy technician is to assist the pharmacist in his duties and to provide the best customer service to patients. A pharmacy technician will receive prescriptions via telephone, fax, internet, and walk-ins. They generally are responsible for answering phone calls, but are limited by law to the advice that they may give out. Technicians will generally fill medication carts for the patients that are hospitalized. These medication carts are filled with one, two, or three days worth of meds. They are delivered to the patient floors and meds are dispensed accordingly.

Other duties include stocking medication on the shelves, ordering supplies, pre-packing medications, assisting customers in outpatient pharmacies, counting tablets, and doing some form of compounding of creams and ointments. Due to the structure of the pharmacy, some technicians will prepare IV admixtures. IV admixtures take a bit more training due to the implications that occur from technician error. Intravenous medications are given through the vein, which means the drug has instant contact with the blood stream. Knowing this, technicians have to be certain that the amount of drug is correct; also they have to be certain that they are using the most sterile technique as possible. Some technicians are eventually trained in chemotherapy agents that are given intravenously. Technicians without the proper training should never attempt to prepare these types of IV admixtures.

Technicians should have a great working knowledge of basic math skills, should have wonderful communication skills (verbal and written). The technician should be familiar with both weighing and measuring of medications. Due to the need for order entry, it is heavily advised that pharmacy technicians have some sort of computer skills. Some pharmacies look for technicians that are self motivated and action takers. The job can require long hours of standing with little to no breaks throughout the day.

The pharmacy technician job description may seem very draining at first, but it does have its upside as well. For starters there will be a huge demand for these career professionals. With the shortage of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians will be in great need to handle the technical side of things. These are areas that the pharmacist will have little to no time to oversee these areas. As far as financial rewards, many pharmacy technicians are paid handsomely for their efforts. One thing to keep in mind is that most institutional pharmacy technicians generally make more than retail pharmacy technicians. If you are after the financial gains, then Hospital Pharmacy is where you will find the financial benefits. Another added benefit is that you can advance your career in many ways as a technician. You can become certified. You can continue schooling and become an actual pharmacist. Some technicians enter this field and go on to become nurses. Entering this field can be a springboard for other healthcare occupations.

Now that you have seen a general Pharmacy technician job description overview, ask yourself do you have what it takes? Assess your skills. Focus on your strengths and weaknesses. Analyze the pros and cons of both the retail and the hospital setting. See which area will be of greater interest to you and a perfect match for your abilities. After you have made a complete and thorough analysis, get the training and get started in your new career that will reward you for years to come.

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Retail Pharmacy Technician Job Description

I have been writing articles on why and how to become a pharmacy technician, but some recent feedback has made me realize I left out the obvious. What is it that pharmacy technicians do in a pharmacy. Most people figure they help the pharmacist enter prescriptions and count pills. This is true for an outpatient pharmacy, also called a retail pharmacy, but there are many roles for pharmacy techs in healthcare. The rest of this article will discuss the job description of pharmacy techs in a retail or community setting, and provide a bulleted list of tasks. Future articles will cover different pharmacy settings for pharmacy techs and the job descriptions and tasks associated with them as well.

Community/Retail Pharmacy: I have worked retail, and I prefer other settings; however, it is where a large percentage of pharmacy technician jobs are found. What a pharmacy technician can do is determined by the state they work via state laws and rules. In general, technicians cannot provide clinical information to patients or be the final check for prescriptions. In some states, technicians are allowed to provide information on over-the-counter (OTC) medication (ie, medications that do not require a prescription, such as, acetaminophen and ibuprofen). Specific roles that pharmacy technicians can have in a retail pharmacy include: general technician, lead technician, buying technician, compounding technician, and billing/insurance technician. In most pharmacies, pharmacy technicians are general technicians with some of the above listed skill sets. When you go into a larger and busier pharmacy, you can actually have job differentiation where people have assigned specialized tasks (based on the needs of the pharmacy).

Pharmacy technician tasks for retail pharmacies include, but are not limited to:

Collecting patient information (insurance and personal information as needed)
Entering and processing prescriptions in the computer system
Filling and selling prescriptions
Requesting refills from doctor offices for patients
Compounding medications that are not commercially available
Ordering medications
Restocking shelves
Answering the phone
Working with insurance companies on approving payment for certain medications
Maintaining the cash register and conducting accounting functions

Retail pharmacies tend to get a bad rap from within the pharmacy profession. Although I prefer hospital (which will be the topic of the next article), I enjoyed my time in a retail pharmacy. I was able to get to know the customers (I like say patients) personally. It is a great feeling when a long-time customer comes to the pharmacy and you know them by name, maybe a little about their family, and most important you know their medical history. Because of this relationship, you are able to ensure that the patient’s medication regimen is optimal, as a technician you can help determine if there are generic alternatives to medications prescribed in order to help the patient save money.

In summary, retail pharmacies are the most common type of pharmacy, and therefore the place where the majority of pharmacy techs are employed. Due to an increasing elderly population (thank you baby boomers), retail pharmacies will continue to increase in demand. If you find a pleasant retail pharmacy to work in, and good staff to work with, a retail pharmacy technician position can be a positive experience.

Pharmacy Technician Job Description

To put it simply, a pharmacy technician job description consists of receiving and filling prescription requests for patients. These requests can come directly from the patient, nurses, physicians or hospitals, and must be carried out under the supervision of licensed pharmacists.

Prescription preparation can take the form of several tasks, including:

-Retrieving prescription orders
-Counting, measuring, mixing and weighing medications
-Making sure the correct prescription container is chosen
-Creating prescription labels

After having filled the prescription, a technician must price and file the medication. The licensed pharmacist, who supervises pharmacy technicians, then checks the prescription before a patient is able to receive it.

Other Responsibilities

Apart from preparing prescriptions, technicians may also need to look after the pharmacy itself, including interactions with patients and hospitals. Some of the other duties one can expect to perform may include:

-Preparing insurance claim forms
-Keeping patient profiles up-to-date
-Answering the phone
-Undertaking cash register transactions
-Keeping up-to-date with the latest medicines and their availability
-Inventorying over-the-counter medications
-Measuring liquid medicines
-Verifying prescriptions

Duties may also include advising patients on health and diet requirements. Therefore, the majority of employers require pharmacy technicians to gain this knowledge through certification.

Working Environment

Pharmacy techs work in organized, clean environments, and spend much of their working day on their feet. They can work in a range of facilities, including:

-Pharmacies
-Hospitals
-Nursing Homes
-Health & Personal Care Stores
-Retail or Mail-Order Pharmacies
-Assisted Living Facilities

While those working in this field typically work a standard 9-5, working on weekends or evenings may also be required, although this depends on the environment worked in and what is demanded from the employer. Pharmacy techs can also work part-time or full-time, again depending on the employer.

Other Skills

There are a few traits that aspiring technicians should possess. While possessing all of the following traits is not a requirement to work in the field, they are useful to have as it maximises the chances of job being found as soon as possible.

Customer Service

As a pharmacy technician spends much of his day interacting with other people, he or she must be able to provide a high level of customer service. One should be able to give his full attention to people and should be able to understand and take on board the points and opinions made by patients.

Communication

Being able to communicate effectively is an important trait to possess, as technicians must interact with colleagues and patients on a daily basis. Therefore, the ability to convey the information patients/colleagues need to know in an easy to understand manner is needed.

Reading Skills

As the job is focused on preparing prescriptions, a person must be able to easily read doctor’s handwriting – which as we all know – can be very difficult for the majority of the population.

Math Skills

While an advanced understanding of math is not required, a basic understanding of solving math problems is. However, this can vary by employer, therefore, solving math problems is not always part of a pharmacy technician job description.

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.