Featured Career: Pharmacy Technician
We all know that when a doctor prescribes a medication, we can simply go to our local pharmacy to pick it up, but have you ever wondered what actually goes into getting your medications ready? As a pharmacy technician, you are responsible for processing a prescription from the time it is handed to you to selling and placing the final product into the patient’s hands. It’s that in-between part of the process that not many are aware of.
Pharmacy technicians work under licensed pharmacists’ supervision to complete an ample range of administrative tasks, from receiving and confirming prescription orders, inputting vaccine requests accurately and adequately, interacting with customers, answering questions, managing inventory, and performing organization tasks.
In some states, it can be necessary to maintain active PTCB certification, in addition to registering with the state board of pharmacy. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) became the first certification organization for pharmacy technicians. The PTCB prides itself in setting the standard for pharmacy technicians’ certification, improving medication safety, and patient care. If your dream job is to become a pharmacy technician, then you may want to consider applying for retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Wal-Mart that offer on-the-job training and will pay for your PTCB certification. There are also trade schools that provide training and help you get licensed. These trade schools can also be a useful tool in getting your career started, but they can sometimes be costly.
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Once you have your foot in the door, then you can start thinking about where you want your career to take you. Healthcare workers are in high demand, and this equates to job security. The sad fact is, as long as there are people in the world, we will always need to provide medicine to the sick. A pharmacy technician’s salary ranges from $23,000 to $35,000 on average depending on what state you work in and what certifications you have and can increase significantly depending on if any specialties are being focused on.
The most well-known fields a Pharmacy Technician can work in are retail, independent, closed-door, or hospital pharmacy. Retail pharmacies are the most common pharmacies because they deal with the public directly as they renew or pick up their prescriptions. The second most common type of pharmacy is an independent pharmacy. An independent pharmacy is just like a retail pharmacy. The only difference is that it isn’t directly affiliated with or owned (or operated) by a pharmacy chain. A closed-door pharmacy is closed to the public. Closed-door pharmacies provide medications to patients living in various health care settings, most commonly long-term care facilities. A hospital pharmacy is an inpatient medication dispensary located within a hospital. Pharmacy Technicians in hospitals prepare prescriptions for a few days at a time rather than for a long period of time. They interact with nurses and doctors rather than the public. There is not as much of a focus on customer service in a hospital environment. So, if your people skills are a little rusty, the hospital may be the right setting for you.
There is a multitude of opportunities for aspiring technicians to explore. Not many people think of becoming a pharmacy technician who specializes in compounding, nuclear pharmacy, clinical pharmacy, remote data entry, or prior authorizations. Individuals should focus on the specialty they enjoy most when deciding what type of Pharmacy technician to become. The possibilities are endless!
COVID-19 has impacted almost everyone in the world in some shape or form, and this is no exception for those who work in the pharmacy. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have been working on the front lines, playing major roles in fighting against COVID-19. Pharmacies have become testing sites, and technicians have had to learn and adapt to these changes by becoming administrators of these tests.
The biggest thing to keep in mind is that this is a medical career. Medicine is always changing, and we have to change with it. The roles of a pharmacy technician today are different than they were even only a few years ago. Customarily, technician duties have been more geared toward cashiering, processing insurance claims, medication preparation, and order entry. Recently a change of pharmacists’ roles toward personal patient care has created new opportunities for technicians. Many states are modernizing the rules and regulations when defining the duties of pharmacy technicians. For example, as of 2020, Indiana pharmacy technicians may now administer the influenza immunization. This is likely a response to the higher volumes of people visiting pharmacies. Rules and laws can vary dramatically from state to state. Keeping up to date with the local laws is crucial, especially during these uncertain times.
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