Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies have various responsibilities, depending on state rules and regulations. Technicians receive written prescription requests from patients and perform medication reconciliation. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from doctors’ offices, and in some states they are permitted to process requests by phone. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, as well as prepare insurance claim forms. Technicians always refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.
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.
Pharmacy technicians are responsible for handling all aspects of the prescription fulfillment process and assisting the pharmacist with day-to-day operations. Aspiring pharmacy techs can complete a one-year diploma or certification program at a pharmacy technician school or a two-year associate degree program. This career guide provides in-depth information about pharmacy technician training, careers and job opportunities in this fast-growing field.
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.
Veterinary technicians in Texas earn a median salary of $28,530 per year. The top earners in this field may command a salary of as much as $38,100 per year. Although the median vet tech salary in Texas is below the national average for this profession ($32,350 per year), this is largely offset by the low cost of living in Texas (9.7 percent below average) and also the moderate cost of housing.
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
Communication skills are often emphasized so that prospective veterinary technicians can connect with pet owners and work efficiently with veterinarians. However, some classes are needed to satisfy general education requirements in the humanities as well as the basic sciences. Once students have earned their associate's degree, they might be ready to sit for national and state examinations administered by the state veterinary medical board.
South Carolina requires a current Pharmacy Technician Registration, a copy of high school diploma or GED must be submitted, and completion of a formal academic training program accredited by ASHP (American Society of Health System Pharmacists). One must also pass the national certification exam (PCTB), and complete 1,000 hours of practical experience under a South Carolina licensed pharmacist.
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.
Pharmacy techs must have strong attention to detail, as the majority of their daily tasks involve measuring, dosing and dispensing prescription medication according to very specific orders. They must also have good written and verbal communication skills to communicate effectively with the pharmacists they work with, patients, and medical professionals or medical representatives they come into contact with.
Weatherford College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assisting program is taught at their campus in the town of Weatherford, TX. This public college has approximately 5,613 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,400 and are $3,720 and $5,280 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program chosen.
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