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.
Most employers require veterinary technicians to have an associate degree in veterinary technology earned through a program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Membership in professional organizations like the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) can also enhance job opportunities by providing job listings, networking opportunities through local chapters and information about continuing education (www.navta.net).
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.
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.
As you come into the hospital, it may be the veterinary technician who greets you and your pet and escorts you to the exam room. There the technician may listen and make notes while you describe the reason for your pet's visit. S/he may give your pet a physical exam -- look at the pet's eyes and ears, listen to the heart, and take the temperature. All of this information will be passed along to the veterinarian for their evaluation.
Good job opportunities are expected for full-time and part-time work, especially for technicians with formal training or previous experience. Job openings for pharmacy technicians will result from the expansion of retail pharmacies and other employment settings, and from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the accrediting body for pharmacy technician programs. ASHP-certified programs are available at many community colleges and vocational schools. Most certificate programs can be completed within a year or less, while associate degree programs typically take two years to complete. Coursework covers technical and practical training in the following areas:
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.
As a laboratory technician on assignment with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) you might manage the laboratory associated with a tuberculosis treatment program, training the technicians you supervise in sputum microscopy. Alternatively, you might find yourself tasked with establishing a laboratory facility, introducing quality control to an HIV laboratory, or testing people for sleeping sickness in an outdoor mobile clinic.
As the job description expands, career opportunities increase, and the outlook for employment as a pharmacy technician is very strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, with a large percentage of the population aging the field is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than average. This means that now is an excellent time to become a pharmacy technician. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredits veterinary technology programs throughout the United States and Canada. Most AVMA-accredited programs lead to an Associate degree after two years but some lead to a four-year Baccalaureate degree. Technicians with Baccalaureate degrees usually receive higher salaries and greater level of job responsibilities.
1. Become a CVPP. When you become a certified veterinary pain practitioner (CVPP), your hospital benefits from a trained and well-educated technician in the field of pain management. While most hospitals are now practicing higher levels of pain control, there’s still much we can do to ensure our patients receive the highest level of pain management possible. (Check out the CVC for great continuing education on pain management topics.)
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.