Texas is a huge employer of veterinary technicians, leading the country with approximately 8,870 vet techs as of 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, the profession is growing rapidly in the state, with a 27.6 percent projected job growth rate between 2012 and 2022. This could equate to an increase of nearly 2,500 jobs by 2022. [Leer en español]
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The PTCB has a practice test section on their website, so you can get a feel for the rigorousness of the exam. The exam itself consists of 90 multiple choice questions, 80 of which are scored and 10 are unscored and interspersed randomly throughout the exam. You have one hour and 50 minutes to complete the exam, which covers some of the following topics:
In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7
Pharmacy techs must have strong attention to detail, as the majority of their daily tasks involve measuring, dosing and dispensing prescription medication according to very specific orders. They must also have good written and verbal communication skills to communicate effectively with the pharmacists they work with, patients, and medical professionals or medical representatives they come into contact with.
The structure of online pharmacy technician courses usually follows a “module” setup, where each section is its own module, most likely followed by an exam that you must pass to be sent the next module. Another program structure is called “distance learning.” If your program is labeled as such, you will have correspondence with your school via mail, email or online. There may be instances where your program requires that you attend certain classes on campus or at another convenient campus location.
In recent times, pharmacy technicians also speak directly with the patients on the phone to aid in the awareness of taking medications on time. In many countries, both developed and developing, the relative importance of pharmacy technicians within the pharmacy workforce has been amplified in recent years, largely as a reaction to pharmacist shortages, resulting in an increase in their numbers and responsibilities; alternative medicine, pharmacotherapeutics, customer care, retail and hospital software systems, inventory management, and infection control.
A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. These programs introduce students to basic concepts in pharmaceutical technology, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacology. They typically include a combination of classroom learning and lab training so that students learn how to dispense medication, prepare sterile products, and manage prescription orders.
5. Teach at a local community college. This is not always the easiest path to take, but it's worthwhile if you enjoy teaching others. Not all states have programs, and those that do tend to hang onto their teachers. So it may be a long process to find a program that's the right fit. Volunteer at local colleges to try to get your foot in the door, or apply with online programs. The more teaching experience you have to go alongside your veterinary technician licensure, the better your chances of obtaining a position. Some programs may also require higher education—some may accept an associate’s degree, while others may require a bachelor’s.
A degree program is generally two years and results in a full academic degree, an associate’s degree (AA), that will distinguish your credentials and provide a foundation on which to build. That is, when you complete an AA, you will have a transcript of accredited courses that can apply to a full, four-year degree later on. Even if you never return to college again, having a full degree will be worthwhile. The additional courses will inform you as a person and professional, expanding your ability to communicate and understand your patients.
Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies have various responsibilities, depending on state rules and regulations. Technicians receive written prescription requests from patients and perform medication reconciliation. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from doctors’ offices, and in some states they are permitted to process requests by phone. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, as well as prepare insurance claim forms. Technicians always refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.
Many experienced technicians working for automobile dealers and independent repair shops receive a commission related to the labor cost charged to the customer. Under this system, which is commonly known as “flat rate” or “flag rate,” weekly earnings depend on the amount of work completed. Some repair shops pay technicians on an hourly basis instead.
The Associate’s degree program at Blinn College is taught at their campus in the town of Brenham. This public college has round 18,850 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. The cost of tuition for in-district students is generally in the order of $2,256 and are $3,912 and $5,904 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost around $1,396, although this will vary with the program.
Service technicians also use many common hand tools, such as wrenches, pliers, and sockets and ratchets. Service technicians generally own these tools themselves. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection. For example, some invest in their own set of pneumatic tools—such as impact wrenches—powered by compressed air.
McLennan Community College offers various Certificate program options in Veterinary Technology a Certificate program and a Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Waco, TX. This public college has approximately 8,294 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-district students is generally around $2,760 and are $3,192 and $4,560 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost around $1,260, depending on the program chosen.
Practical experience in a veterinary hospital is also often part of the curriculum in an associate's degree program for aspiring veterinary technicians. An externship can be completed during a student's last semester of an associate's degree program for veterinary technology or animal science. However, if there is a high hourly requirement to fulfill this externship, then it is may need to be completed during the summer between the first and second years of enrollment. Externship participants assist veterinarians by taking blood samples, weighing animals and sterilizing surgical instruments. Students learn to handle stressful situations, such as working with difficult animals, and to manage their emotions while completing work in a professional manner.
Veterinary technicians typically work wherever you find veterinarians — private practices, hospitals, research labs, and zoos. While they are clearly an important part of the professional veterinary team today, this hasn't always been the case. The first "animal technician" program was created in the 1960s, before then, veterinarians hired students or office workers to feed the animals, clean the cages, answer the phone, and do other routine tasks. As the field of animal health became more complex, a need arose for a well-educated staff that could take on greater responsibilities.
Good job opportunities are expected for full-time and part-time work, especially for technicians with formal training or previous experience. Job openings for pharmacy technicians will result from the expansion of retail pharmacies and other employment settings, and from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Take the pharmacy technician certification exam. Exams are given in virtually every state. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) administer certification exams. Which one should you choose? Start by reviewing each exam’s prerequisites. You may be required to have work experience or formal education in order to take the test. It’s also a good idea to check with your state board or local employers to see which certification is accepted.
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