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.
In hospitals and nursing facilities, the pharmacy technician jobs involve patient care. Pharmacy technicians in health care facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, often fill prescriptions for patients and deliver them on a daily basis. They also record their dosages on the patient’s chart. If you’re the kind of person who likes one-on-one personal care and being an active part of a medical team, pharmacy technician jobs in hospitals or nursing care facilities are a great choice.
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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 technologists usually have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. Although some technologists work in private clinical practices, many work in more advanced research-related jobs, usually under the guidance of a scientist or veterinarian. Working primarily in a laboratory setting, they may administer medications; prepare tissue samples for examination; or record information on an animal’s genealogy, weight, diet, and signs of pain.
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.
In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7
A mail-order pharmacy tech finds herself in a more office-like environment, filling prescriptions from a workstation amidst many other techs. The day of a mail-order pharmacy tech might start with meetings with pharmacists and other techs, from there, duties might include preparing compounds, maintaining the patient database, filling vials of medicine and inventory maintenance. Just because a mail-order tech is behind-the-scenes and doesn’t deal directly with the public it does not mean that their jobs are easy.
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In Ghana, a 2009 assessment of pharmaceutical human resources identified a total of 1,637 practicing pharmacists (1 per 14,400 population), 918 practising pharmacy Technicians/Technologists (1 per 25,600), and 1,642 medicine counter assistants (1 per 14,300). Nearly half (45%) of pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers across the country reported having one or more vacancies for pharmaceutical personnel, including 82% of public sector facilities.
Revised ASHP/ACPE accreditation standards for pharmacy technician education and training program (revised): frequently asked questions. ASHP website. ashp.org/-/media/assets/professional-development/technician-program-accreditation/docs/ashp-acpe-revised-pharmacy-technician-program-accreditation-standards-faq.ashx?la=en&hash=20A4F63D3DBD66AFA487CEC39978674392F343B9. Published July 2018. Accessed July 31, 2018.
Even though it is not pharmacy technicians’ responsibility to provide medical advice, they will be responsible for interacting with customers when dispensing medication. They must have basic customer service skills to ensure they are providing customers with the correct prescriptions, contact customers to advise them that the prescription is ready and follow up with any inquiries customers may have about their order.