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.
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.
Hospital-based pharmacy technicians, for instance, work with IV medications and do a lot of laboratory preparation to ensure that patients receive exactly what they need. The lab work might also include extensive cleaning to ensure sterility and the safest possible pharmaceutical environment. Others in the hospital might be charged with maintaining the drug-dispensary machines that nurses rely on to retrieve medications at a moment’s notice.
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.
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