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.
"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."
Average Americans work well into their 60s, so workers might as well have a job that’s enjoyable and a career that's fulfilling. A job with a low stress level, good work-life balance and solid prospects to improve, get promoted and earn a higher salary would make many employees happy. Here's how Veterinary Techs and Technicians job satisfaction is rated in terms of upward mobility, stress level and flexibility.
Mail order pharmacies present an opportunity to service a wider range of customers than local community pharmacies. For the pharmacy technician, this translates into good pay, benefits and the possibility of a flexible work schedule. Perhaps the most solitary of the three workplaces, mail order is great if you’re looking for pharmacy technician jobs where you can work independently or behind-the-scenes.
The need for pharmacy techs is increasing. Retailers are expanding their pharmaceutical services, and scientific advancements continue. In addition, prescription requests are likely to increase as more people in the U.S. have access to health insurance. Pharmacy technicians will also be needed as pharmacists continue to offer more direct patient care, such as administering flu shots. Read more about your pharmacy technician career.
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.
Veterinary technologists and technicians earn two- or four-year degrees in veterinary technology. While they share many of the same responsibilities, technologists typically hold four-year bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology, whereas technicians hold two-year associate degrees. They must also pass an exam and become certified, licensed or registered, depending on the state. Strong science and math backgrounds are essential, Legred says, since much of the job involves drug calculations and lab tests.
In Canada, according to a 2007 profile of the pharmacy technician workforce, 43% of technicians work in hospitals and other related facilities, 37% in chain or franchise community pharmacies, and 16% in independent community pharmacies. Most (62%) obtained pharmacy technician training from a career college or community college, some (16%) had only a high school education and no formal pharmacy training, while about 20% had some university education. A very small proportion (2%) had trained and worked abroad as either pharmacists or pharmacy technicians. The wide range of technical training and educational attainment likely reflects in part the variety of training programs for pharmacy technicians currently available in the different provinces and territories of the country. Accredited Pharmacy Technician diploma, certificate and college programs are offered in the Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. 908
Certification. Even if you don’t wish to sit for the PTCB examination (learn more below), research how well alumni of the program fare on that test. You will want to have the same level of knowledge to best serve your patients and pharmacists. The PTCB awards successful takers a national certification that can give your resume a special distinction.
The comprehensive two-year program covers topics in pharmacy operations, pharmacology and advanced administration, and may include an externship component. Students take a series of general courses in mathematics, science, psychology, humanities, and English, in addition to pharmacy- and medical-specific courses to fulfill degree requirements. Graduates of this program can process medication orders, have extensive knowledge about pharmacy law as it applies to filling prescriptions, and demonstrate fundamental knowledge of medical terminology.
Some community colleges require that applicants have at least 16-20 hours of observation in a veterinary hospital in addition to a high school diploma before they may enroll in an associate's degree program for veterinary technology. Students then complete a majority of courses in the core field of study. Veterinary technology topics include animal pharmacology, animal behavior, clinical practices, animal diseases and veterinary hospital management.
In addition, many states are updating the rules and regulations concerning permitted technician duties. For example, the Idaho Board of Pharmacy recently updated its rules to allow certified pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations, clarify and transfer prescriptions, and take verbal orders, as long as key requirements—national certification and proper training—are met.8
Two organizations offer certification. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certification requires a high school diploma and the passing of an exam. Applicants for the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, and have completed a training program or have 1 year of work experience. Technicians must recertify every 2 years by completing 20 hours of continuing education courses.
If you’ve researched other roles within the healthcare industry, you’ll know the biggest unifying theme between all of them is the end result of helping people. Choosing a pharmacy technician career goal is no different, as you’ll be helping people, but there are other good reasons for pursuing this career field. Here are just a couple to consider:
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"Medical technician'' means a health care worker who is not licensed or registered by a New Hampshire regulatory board and who assists licensed health care professionals in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. For the purposes of this chapter, medical technicians shall be limited to health care workers with access to controlled substances and with access to or contact with patients in a health care facility or in a medical establishment.
Besides your studies, there are several skills you could cultivate in order to perform your duties as a pharmacy technician optimally. In your classes you’ll learn to work with the tools of the trade, such as Auger Dose Machines, Lab Blenders and Emulsifiers and Sterile Processing and Filling Machines, but what else can you learn to get a jump on the competition?
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.
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.
Clinics and animal hospitals have increased their use of vet techs to provide general care and lab work. This demand has led to a much faster than average projected job growth through 2026. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that veterinarians are employing veterinary technologists and technicians instead of veterinary assistants because of their higher skill level.
In addition to your training, you can receive extra work experience through internships. In these internships, you’ll be able to apply your course lessons as well as understand the day-to-day routine of a pharmacy. If you’re interested in applying for one, you can start by checking online with popular national drugstores, call your local pharmacies or use your school’s career center if you’re currently enrolled in a pharmacy technician program.
In Colombia, Pharmacy Technicians are known as Pharmacy Regency Technologists, erroneously called Pharmacy Regents. They graduate of several universities after three years of training. This occupation appeared due to the lack of pharmacists in Colombia, that is why they are commonly confused with pharmacists. The Pharmacy Regency Technicians in Colombia are regulated and monitored by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.