Besides your studies, there are several skills you could cultivate in order to perform your duties as a pharmacy technician optimally. In your classes you’ll learn to work with the tools of the trade, such as Auger Dose Machines, Lab Blenders and Emulsifiers and Sterile Processing and Filling Machines, but what else can you learn to get a jump on the competition?
Veterinary technicians usually have a 2-year associate’s degree in a veterinary technology program. They generally work in private clinical practices under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. Technicians may perform laboratory tests, such as a urinalysis, and help veterinarians conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Although some of their work is done in a laboratory setting, many technicians also talk with animal owners. For example, they explain a pet’s condition or how to administer medication prescribed by a veterinarian.
Pharmacy technicians work in clean, organized, well-lighted, and well-ventilated areas. Most of their workday is spent on their feet. They may be required to lift heavy boxes or to use stepladders to retrieve supplies from high shelves. Technicians work the same hours as pharmacists. This may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Because some hospital and retail pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, technicians may work varying shifts. As their seniority increases, technicians often have increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
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.
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, who must review prescriptions before they are given to patients. In most states, technicians can compound or mix some medications and call physicians for prescription refill authorizations. Technicians also may need to operate automated dispensing equipment when filling prescription orders.
Technicians work the same hours that pharmacists work. These may include evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays, particularly in facilities that are open 24 hours a day such as hospitals and some retail pharmacies. As their seniority increases, technicians often acquire increased control over the hours they work. There are many opportunities for part-time work in both retail and hospital settings.
The number of jobs for veterinary technologists and technicians is expected to surge between 2016 and 2026. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of about 20 percent. Veterinary medicine is becoming a more advanced field, and qualified vets and vet techs are required for the specialized tasks of treating animals in clinics and animal hospitals. There's also particular demand for vet techs to work in public health, food and animal safety, and national disease control. The BLS attributes this growth to the increasing importance of pets to Americans, along with their willingness to pay for more advanced medical treatments.
While the majority of veterinary technicians are employed in private practice, the demand for technicians is rapidly expanding to include new employment opportunities in human and animal health-related areas and specialties such as military service, food safety inspection, teaching, zoo animal and wildlife care, diagnostic laboratory support, veterinary supply sales, animal control and humane society animal care, and drug and feed company technical service and sales.
The CVMA’s AHT/VT Program Accreditation Committee (AHTVTPAC) identifies and certifies animal health technology and veterinary technician education programs whose graduates are considered to be competent to successfully complete the National Veterinary Technician Exam, and assist veterinarians in clinical practice. The Committee encourages further development of such programs in Canada.
Pharmacy technicians work under the direction of a licensed pharmacist to dispense medication and provide information to customers. Pharmacy technicians typically work behind a pharmacy counter at a drugstore, grocery store, hospital, nursing home or other medical facility. This position involves working with pharmacists, patients and occasionally with pharmaceutical reps.
To accommodate work and family obligations, distance learning is an option for many students wishing to earn a degree in veterinary technology from home. The AVMA accredits several distance-learning courses that meet the same standards of accreditation as traditional programs and include a clinical component. Students fulfill the clinical training through sponsorship by a licensed veterinarian.
5. Teach at a local community college. This is not always the easiest path to take, but it's worthwhile if you enjoy teaching others. Not all states have programs, and those that do tend to hang onto their teachers. So it may be a long process to find a program that's the right fit. Volunteer at local colleges to try to get your foot in the door, or apply with online programs. The more teaching experience you have to go alongside your veterinary technician licensure, the better your chances of obtaining a position. Some programs may also require higher education—some may accept an associate’s degree, while others may require a bachelor’s.
Some community colleges require that applicants have at least 16-20 hours of observation in a veterinary hospital in addition to a high school diploma before they may enroll in an associate's degree program for veterinary technology. Students then complete a majority of courses in the core field of study. Veterinary technology topics include animal pharmacology, animal behavior, clinical practices, animal diseases and veterinary hospital management.
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