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
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:
Veterinary assistants support the veterinarian and/or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks. The assistant may be asked to perform kennel work, assist in the restraint and handling of animals, feed and exercise the animals, or spend time on clerical duties. There are training programs for veterinary assistants, and some are trained on the job. At this time, there is no credentialing exam for veterinary assistants.
Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in the care of animals. They may perform an initial evaluation of the animal's condition, clean and wrap wounds, check vital statistics, collect samples and administer medication. They also perform basic lab work, including urinalysis and blood tests, and may assist with procedures such as teeth cleaning.
Attending a postsecondary education program with an emphasis in pharmacy technology is helpful but not required. Vocational schools and community colleges offer these programs, which usually last one year or less. They might teach mathematics commonly applied in pharmacies and help familiarize students with the names, uses and doses of medications. Best practices for dispensing medications, as well as pharmacy law and ethics, will also be covered. Some training programs include internships that allow students to obtain hands-on experience.
Technicians' additional training allows them to perform tasks that include administering anesthesia, and medicating and vaccinating animals. Assistants feed and bathe animals, prepare examination and operating rooms, and may also perform clerical duties. State laws regulate what those working in each occupation are permitted to do. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website provides a state-by-state guide to specified duties of assistants and technicians.
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.
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
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.
While the majority of veterinary technicians are employed in private practice, the demand for technicians is rapidly expanding to include new employment opportunities in human and animal health-related areas and specialties such as military service, food safety inspection, teaching, zoo animal and wildlife care, diagnostic laboratory support, veterinary supply sales, animal control and humane society animal care, and drug and feed company technical service and sales.
Pharmacy Times® is the #1 full-service pharmacy media resource in the industry. Founded in 1897, Pharmacy Times® reaches a network of over 1.3 million retail pharmacists. Through our print, digital and live events channels, Pharmacy Times® provides clinically based, practical and timely information for the practicing pharmacist. Features and specialized departments cover medication errors, drug interactions, patient education, pharmacy technology, disease state management, patient counseling, product news, pharmacy law and health-system pharmacy.
After obtaining technical school education, an associate degree, or work training, the technician may take a certification exam. Exam preparation may also be provided by some employers. Examinations are offered by two certifying bodies. The first is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The second is the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician (ExCPT) offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Upon successful completion of the examination, the candidate is granted certification. The technician must then complete continuing education to maintain certification.
A mail-order pharmacy tech finds herself in a more office-like environment, filling prescriptions from a workstation amidst many other techs. The day of a mail-order pharmacy tech might start with meetings with pharmacists and other techs, from there, duties might include preparing compounds, maintaining the patient database, filling vials of medicine and inventory maintenance. Just because a mail-order tech is behind-the-scenes and doesn’t deal directly with the public it does not mean that their jobs are easy.
In addition to the responsibilities above, veterinary technicians employed in a biomedical research facility perform other duties under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, a biomedical research worker, or other scientist, such as supervising the humane care and handling of research animals and assisting in the implementation of research projects.
Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.