A Pharmacy Technician (PT) works under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and assists in all aspects of preparing pharmaceuticals. They greet customers, enter all necessary data into the computer system, verify customers’ insurance coverage, type the prescription, fill or prepare it as needed, label the prescription and, after a final verification by the pharmacist, dispense it to the customer.
More than half of all PTs work in retail pharmacies. The remainder work in other retailers such as grocery stores, acute care hospitals, nursing homes, managed care distributors and ambulatory care clinics.
Roles and responsibilities are as varied as PTs’ work settings. Within retail settings, PTs spend more time “face to face” with customers, as they greet them, type their prescriptions into the computer, prepare medications, staff drive through refill centers and interact with insurance companies on a routine basis. In hospitals, PTs are an integral part of the health care team and work directly with nurses, doctors, fellow technicians while interacting with nearly everyone on the hospital staff. They prepare orders, fill automated dispensing machines, prepare sterile medications and maintain proper inventory levels. PTs might be scheduled to work on any of three shifts in institutional settings.
It is the customer care and service that makes the PT’s job so fulfilling. The PT is usually the last person on the health care team a customer sees as they begin to understand and treat a health issue. So, it is with great satisfaction that a PT prepares and dispenses medication that can bring what might have been a scary chapter to a happy ending. Seeing a patient’s eyes light up when you hand them their possibly life-saving medication in a fraction of their expected wait time brings great personal gratification. US News and World Report lists Pharmaceutical Technicians as 48th among America’s Best 100 jobs.
What does it take to be a PT?
An appreciation for accuracy and exactness. They take great pride in the pursuit of perfection (mistakes are not acceptable) and in the knowledge they accumulate about the ever expanding world of pharmaceuticals.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of employed PTs to grow from 355,000 in 2012 to 426,000 in 2022, an increase of 20 percent or nearly twice the growth rate of the average profession.
There are a variety of required training regimens since each state board of pharmacy determines requirements within their state. Many states require or are considering licensure of PTs. Licensure requirements might include a high school diploma or GED, passing a criminal background check and drug test, graduation from a 3-9 month training program accredited by the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists, and passage of a licensure/certification exam. Again, requirements vary widely so familiarize yourself with regulations in your state
A pharmacy technician’s roles and responsibilities are critical within the ever-expanding pharmacy practice setting. Pharmacy managers and administrators prepare technicians for expanded roles within the health care team as they recognize the value added that a fully trained and properly educated technician brings to their team.