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.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75% of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. work in a retail setting, such as an independently owned drugstore, a mass retailer chain, or a mail-order or online pharmacy. An additional 16% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals, while others worked for nursing homes, pharmaceutical wholesalers, or the Federal Government. To work in any of these settings, certain requirements must be met. Requirements vary by state.
Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure that the information maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Veterinary technologists and technicians handle lab work, radiology, nursing care, surgery assistance and dozens of other tasks related to animal health care. "We do everything except diagnose, prescribe and do surgery," says Julie Legred, a veterinary technician and executive director at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. They often work in private clinics and animal hospitals, assisting veterinarians with the care of animals. While the job might sound like a lot of fun, Legred is quick to point out that "it's not just holding puppies." She adds, "You're not going to make a lot of money, you have to pick up poo and you get peed on." In other words, the work isn't glamorous, so only those with a real commitment to animal care tend to stay in the field.
The Associate’s degree program at Austin Community College District is taught at their campus in the city of Austin. The majority of of the school’s 40,949 students are on 2-year programs. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,550 and are $9,210 and $11,340 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,200, although this will vary with the program.
Online pharmacy tech programs are proliferating to meet the growing demand for the profession. They offer students a great deal of flexibility that can facilitate their education to a great degree. For instance, you might even work as a pharmacy tech while pursuing your formal education in your off hours. When you research programs, look for a few specific things:
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Other pharmacy technicians enter the occupation after completing postsecondary education programs in pharmacy technology. These programs are usually offered by vocational schools or community colleges. Most programs award a certificate after 1 year or less, although some programs last longer and lead to an associate’s degree. They cover a variety of subjects, such as arithmetic used in pharmacies, recordkeeping, ways of dispensing medications, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also learn the names, uses, and doses of medications. Most programs also include clinical experience opportunities, in which students gain hands-on experience in a pharmacy.
Most veterinary technicians are certified by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA). In order to qualify for certification, vet techs must complete a two-year degree program at a school accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association. Some vet techs, especially those looking for clinical research jobs, will go on to get a four-year degree in animal science.
Your formal training will include laboratory and clinical work with live animals. If you are a high school student who is interested in this field, make sure to take science classes such as biology, as well as math classes. You should also consider volunteering at a veterinarian's office or an animal shelter, where you can get experience and find out if you enjoy working in this environment.
Palo Alto College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and two Certificate programs. All programs are based at their campus in the city of San Antonio. The college has about 8,376 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,088 and are $5,550 and $10,740 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Books and supplies can cost roughly $2,074, although this will depend on the program.
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.
Pharmacy technician employment is anticipated to develop quickly because of a growing use of medications as a treatment for patients. Additionally, a larger amount of middle-aged and elderly people — who typically take more prescription drugs than those that are younger — will drive the need for technicians in all practice surroundings. View technician employment trends from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Houston Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is based at their campus in the city of Houston, TX. Most of the school’s 58,276 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-district students is likely to be around $1,632 and are $3,360 and $3,756 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost around $3,000, although this will vary with the program.
4. Work with your state veterinary technician association. And if there isn’t one already, start one! Working with your state technician association helps you stay on the front lines of what’s required of you as a technician within your state. You’re able to be a part of continuing education and veterinary legislation that's vital to us as technicians.
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
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.
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