Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and perform many pharmacy-related functions. They refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist. Pharmacy techs work in a wide variety of practice settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, the military, in-home health care settings, long term care facilities, mail service pharmacies, managed health care organizations, and educational programs.
Technologists typically need a four-year bachelor’s degree whereas veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year degree. Earning an associate’s degree can be a good first step into the field. It allows you to enter the workforce sooner and quickly learn entry-level job duties. If you decide to pursue more education, you’ll find your responsibilities as a veterinary technologist will be more advanced.
In the United Kingdom, a Pharmacy Technician now must complete a recognised accredited training program with vocational training to SVQ/NVQ level 3 in Pharmacy Services as well as an academic underpinning knowledge program such as BTEC or National Certificate (NC) Pharmacy Services. In addition a minimum period of time of working as a trainee Pharmacy Technician is needed before final qualification and compulsory registration is required before commencing work as a Pharmacy Technician. Pharmacy Technicians may counsel patients on their medication (under the supervision or direction of a pharmacist, though counselling is not one of the learning outcomes for pharmacy technician training) as well as general dispensing of prescriptions. In community pharmacy, it has been recognised that the role is difficult to distinguish from that of a dispensing assistant with an NVQ2 qualification. Additional training is available to qualified Pharmacy Technicians and can include accuracy checking of dispensed prescriptions (though there is no legal requirement that a person be qualified as a pharmacy technician before undertaking an accuracy checking course), Medicines Management (Hospital or PCT), participation in the running of hospital clinics such as anticoagulant clinics, dosing Warfarin patients under dose banding guidance, or other higher duties traditionally done by Pharmacists.
Pharmacy Technicians in hospitals are graded on the same Agenda for Change banding as nurses and other health care professionals. They start on a set percentage of a Band 4 (usually 75% - an average annual wage of £20,698) as a trainee moving on to Band 4 when newly qualified PhT and can work their way to a Band 8b in charge of a department/area. A Band 8b is the equivalent of a Nurse Lead/Senior Nurse Manager in nursing or other Head of Department in the NHS. Although Band 8b is possible, a successful pharmacy technician can reasonably expect to reach Band 7a in the latter stage of their career, earning an average of £35,898.
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.
Food science technicians who work in manufacturing investigate new production or processing techniques. They also ensure that products will be fit for distribution or are produced as efficiently as expected. Many food science technicians spend time inspecting foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives to determine whether they are safe and have the proper combination of ingredients.
Pharmacy technicians must take the lead in educating themselves on drug information and any major changes occurring in the industry. They may be required to read about drug studies, review pharmaceutical literature or produce reports about different prescription medications and dispensing activities. Since many work in busy retail drugstores or emergency rooms, they must also have strong organizational skills and be able to work in a fast-paced environment without making mistakes.
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.
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.
Most technicians are certified — the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) — and have completed several hundred hours of on-the-job training in order to be able to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and abide by ethical standards. Basic job duties include dosing medications and filling prescription orders, taking care of administrative tasks, and handling basic customer service duties at the counter. Some pharmacy techs lead a team of pharmacy staff members as a lead pharmacy technician. Others may be responsible for managing supply and inventory or providing pertinent information to other healthcare professionals.
Veterinary Technician Specialists certified by the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT) are an integral part of the Veterinary Healthcare Team. These veterinary technicians have made the extra effort to increase their knowledge in the fields of Cardiology, Large Animal Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology, and Small Animal Internal Medicine.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.