Pharmacy technicians are entry-level personnel that work in many different pharmacy settings within the health care industry. They assist the pharmacist as the right-hand person in many different pharmacy practice settings. One of the main duties of a pharmacy technician are to enter patient data and information into the computer system to process prescriptions. They are also responsible for dispensing commercially available medication, compounding specialty orders, and/or preparing intravenous medications.
To accommodate work and family obligations, distance learning is an option for many students wishing to earn a degree in veterinary technology from home. The AVMA accredits several distance-learning courses that meet the same standards of accreditation as traditional programs and include a clinical component. Students fulfill the clinical training through sponsorship by a licensed veterinarian.
The PTCB, Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, has enacted a plan to require an ASHP (American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists) certified Pharmacy Technician education program by the year 2020. This is a hotly debated issue, as training schools have come under great scrutiny regarding the issuance of Title IV loans. According to RxTechExam.com, all that is required to become a Nationally Certified Pharmacy Technician is:
Weatherford College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assisting program is taught at their campus in the town of Weatherford, TX. This public college has approximately 5,613 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,400 and are $3,720 and $5,280 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program chosen.
Texas A & M University’s Bachelor-level Animal Science program is offered at their Kingsville campus in the town of Kingsville, Texas. This is a full, 4-year public college with 13,246 students, of which 74% are undergraduates. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $7,700 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $20,191 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,344, although this varies from program to program.
In honor of National Veterinary Technicians Week, Vetstreet is doing a series of articles that highlight the work of these veterinary professionals who play such a vital role in the well being of our pets. Our first piece, by Dr. Marty Becker, Time To Sing Out for Vet Techs, the Unsung Heroes of Animal Care, talks about some of the ways that vet techs take care of both human clients and animal ones. In this article, we cover more of the nuts and bolts of the important role.
Pharmacy technicians must take the lead in educating themselves on drug information and any major changes occurring in the industry. They may be required to read about drug studies, review pharmaceutical literature or produce reports about different prescription medications and dispensing activities. Since many work in busy retail drugstores or emergency rooms, they must also have strong organizational skills and be able to work in a fast-paced environment without making mistakes.
In Ghana, a 2009 assessment of pharmaceutical human resources identified a total of 1,637 practicing pharmacists (1 per 14,400 population), 918 practising pharmacy Technicians/Technologists (1 per 25,600), and 1,642 medicine counter assistants (1 per 14,300). Nearly half (45%) of pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers across the country reported having one or more vacancies for pharmaceutical personnel, including 82% of public sector facilities.
"One of the most challenging aspects [of the job] comes down to maintaining knowledge on all the changes that occur within the field," says Mike Johnston, chairman and CEO of the National Pharmacy Technician Association. "Pharmacy practice changes on a weekly basis with new generics and new drugs." Another challenge is interacting with patients who are "not always feeling their best," he says. "The majority of your customers that you're going to be dealing with are sick – whether it be a cold or sinus infection or a much more serious, chronic condition. So it takes a lot of compassion and empathy."
Even though it is not pharmacy technicians’ responsibility to provide medical advice, they will be responsible for interacting with customers when dispensing medication. They must have basic customer service skills to ensure they are providing customers with the correct prescriptions, contact customers to advise them that the prescription is ready and follow up with any inquiries customers may have about their order.
Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.