Certification. Even if you don’t wish to sit for the PTCB examination (learn more below), research how well alumni of the program fare on that test. You will want to have the same level of knowledge to best serve your patients and pharmacists. The PTCB awards successful takers a national certification that can give your resume a special distinction.
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 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.
The role of the veterinary technician is similar to that of a registered nurse in a doctor's office. Vet techs are the veterinarian's right hand. In many cases, the vet tech will be the first person to examine an animal when it comes into the veterinary clinic. Vet techs are also employed by zoos and research labs to assist in caring for, evaluating and treating the animals. Vet techs can specialize in several different areas of medicine, including dentistry, anesthesia, nutrition and pathology. Vet techs often supervise other members of the veterinary care team such as the veterinary assistant.
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.
Service technicians also use many common hand tools, such as wrenches, pliers, and sockets and ratchets. Service technicians generally own these tools themselves. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection. For example, some invest in their own set of pneumatic tools—such as impact wrenches—powered by compressed air.
With the appropriate amount of training and experience, pharmacy technicians may be promoted to supervisory roles, may seek specialization (e.g., oncology, nuclear pharmacy), or may pursue further education and training to become a pharmacist. Some technicians gain specialized skills in sterile products admixture, pharmacy automation, and health information systems. An ASHP survey of pharmacy practice managers in August 2009 revealed 56 percent of organizations offer career advancement opportunities for technicians. In an ASHP survey of pharmacy technicians, 81 percent indicated they expect to perform duties of a pharmacy technician for five or more years.
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.