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.
Technicians work the same hours that pharmacists work. These may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays, particularly in facilities that are open 24 hours a day such as hospitals and some retail pharmacies. As their seniority increases, technicians often acquire increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
There are primarily two levels of education and training for entry to this occupation—a 2-year program for veterinary technicians and a 4-year program for veterinary technologists. Most entry-level veterinary technicians have a 2-year degree, usually an associate degree, from an accredited community college program in veterinary technology, in which courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. A few colleges offer veterinary technology programs that are longer and that may culminate in a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. These 4-year colleges, in addition to some vocational schools, also offer 2-year programs in laboratory animal science. Search for schools that provide training for this career.
Retail pharmacy techs are in the public eye and deal directly with patients who need medications and advice to enhance their quality of life. Where a hospitalized patient might ask a drug-related question of her doctor, in this setting the pharmacy tech is likely to be asked about the administration of a particular medication, such as correct dosages and should the medication be taken with food or on an empty stomach. When questions extend the scope of knowledge for you as a tech, you will then relay the question to the pharmacist for the correct answer. In the retail world you will also need to maintain inventories. Unlike a hospital, you will only have the main pharmacy inventory to maintain, rather than multiple Omnicell machines in addition to the primary supply area.
Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists by performing duties such as measuring and analyzing the quality of food and agricultural products. Duties range from performing agricultural labor with added recordkeeping duties to laboratory testing with significant amounts of office work, depending on the particular field the technician works in.
Veterinary technicians are often confused with veterinary technologists. While both occupations share some of the same job responsibilities, they work under a veterinarian to test animals and diagnose illnesses and injuries. A veterinary technician requires less education. A typical degree program completed by a veterinary technician lasts for two years and is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Licensing, certification and registration requirements for vet technicians vary by state.
A pharmacy technician is a health care provider who performs pharmacy-related functions, generally working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations (usually in community, retail, and hospital pharmacies), but can also work for long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, third-party insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or teaching. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctor's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.
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.
Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician. Many employers favor pharmacy technicians to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board, such as by passing a standard exam and/or paying a fee. In the United States, voluntary certification is available through many private organizations. Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
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.
AAPT provides leadership and represents the interests of its members to the public as well as health care organizations; promotes the safe, efficacious, and cost effective dispensing, distribution and use of medications; provides continuing education programs and services to help technicians update their skills to keep pace with changes in pharmacy services; promotes pharmacy technicians as an integral part of the patient care team.
Since most certification and degree programs for pharmacy technicians require hands-on training through an externship or similar training, it’s important to determine what types of partnerships the school has secured for externships. Some schools offer externship placement as a courtesy to students, while others require students to seek out and apply for training on their own. In either situation, students are typically responsible for organizing their own transportation to the pharmacy, lab or other approved facility to complete this component of the program.
Registered Pharmacy Technicians in the NHS are responsible for the training and development of Pharmacy Support Workers; Senior Pharmacy Support Workers and Pre-Registration Trainee Pharmacy Technicians. Further training and qualifications after initial registration as a RPhT enable them to perform this mentoring role. Pharmacy Technicians in the UK (as with other countries e.g. Canada) are now referred to by some as professionals, although Registered Pharmacists are obviously considered experts in the Pharmaceutical field and RPhTs are subordinate to Pharmacists. The reference to pharmacy technicians as professionals has been subject to challenge.
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.
Pharmacy technicians’ primary responsibility is dispensing prescription medication, which requires great attention to detail. Pharmacy techs must be able to measure, mix, dose and dispense appropriate amounts of medication based on the pharmacist’s orders. They may also be involved with data entry tasks to update patient records and fill prescription orders.
Pharmacy technicians work in clean, organized, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. Most of their workday is spent on their feet. They may be required to lift heavy boxes or to use stepladders to retrieve supplies from high shelves. Technicians work the same hours as pharmacists. This may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Because some hospital and retail pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, technicians may work varying shifts. As their seniority increases, technicians often have increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
Drivability technicians, also known as diagnostic technicians, use their extensive knowledge of engine management and fuel, electrical, ignition, and emissions systems to diagnose issues that prevent engines from performing efficiently. They often use the onboard diagnostic system of a car and electronic testing equipment such as scan tools and multimeters to find the malfunction.
The final competition consists of 10 rigorous, hands-on skill tests including vehicle electronics, preventive maintenance, and air conditioning. The title of “Top Tech,” along with a cash prize, is awarded to the first place winner. All seven finalists receive cash prizes for their exemplary performance. Each year’s top seven finalists go on to represent Team Ryder at the TMC SuperTech National Technician Skills Competition, where they compete against the industry’s best technicians.