Have you been considering a career in pharmacy and asked, “What does a pharmacy technician do?” There are multiple skills a pharmacy technician needs in order to thrive in this career.
In the past few years, the role of a pharmacy technician has evolved significantly with changes in the tasks for which they are responsible. Until recently, their tasks were more focused on assisting the pharmacist and serving as clerks or cashiers. Now, with an increase in digital engagement and online pharmacy operations, the technician has to be skilled technically in order to communicate digitally, interpret written prescriptions, and perform pharmacy calculations. The pharmacy technician must also provide good customer service through compassion, and maintain efficiency and accuracy at all times.
Where Do Pharmacy Technicians Work?
Today, pharmacy technicians work in many different environments:
- Hospital/Clinic pharmacies
- Community or retail pharmacies
- Pharmaceutical production or sales in the pharmaceutical industry
- Primary care organizations
- Education and training
- Veterinary pharmacies
- Pharmacy organizations
In the United States, the State Board of Pharmacy of every state regulates licensing or certification requirements as well as decrees the specific tasks that a pharmacy technician can perform.
There are two common employment settings, a retail or community pharmacy and a hospital, where the roles and duties of a pharmacy technicians may differ slightly.
Pharmacy Techs in a Retail or Community Pharmacy
Significant to the operations of a pharmacy, a pharmacy technician has many responsibilities in a retail or community setting, which include these tasks:
- Supplying prescription and over-the-counter medicine to patients
- Using technology to record customer and prescription data into the computer
- Assembling medication for prescriptions, filling and labelling prescriptions
- Providing patients and other healthcare professionals with relevant information
- Preparing or compounding medications
- Managing inventory, tracking supplies, verifying the stock received and identifying expired stock
- Collecting payments from customers and recording the details in the inventory system
Pharmacy Technicians in a Hospital Setting
At an outpatient pharmacy in a hospital, patients collect their prescriptions to take home. In this setting, the duties of a pharmacy technician are similar to those in a retail pharmacy.
However, hospital pharmacy technicians are responsible for a variety of clerical duties, in addition to providing customer service to physicians, nurses and other hospital staff members. The hospital pharmacy has less direct contact with patients, but does most of its communication with the staff electronically or by telephone. These pharmacies provide medicine to all the patients in the hospital, including those in the emergency room, operating rooms or outpatient sites. Other responsibilities include these tasks:
- Making IVs: Pharmacy technicians are required to make IVs in the inpatient pharmacies in hospitals. This requires special training in aseptic techniques to prevent contamination as well as clean room procedures.
- Preparing prescription medications like pills or capsules, along with other medications like creams, ointments and compounds
- Verifying orders, counting out the correct number of capsules or tablets as per the prescription, and labelling completed orders
- Filling out requisition forms and other paperwork
- Protecting patients and employees by enforcing infection-control policies and protocols
- Filling the automated medication dispensers found in patient areas of some hospital facilities
- Preparing reports by collecting and summarizing information of the medicine dispensed, existing and ordered stock, etc.
Pharmacy Technician Skills and Qualifications
Pharmacy technicians need a well-rounded skill set. Whether they are working in a hospital, retail, or another setting, these skills are essential in order to thrive in the field, as well as be versatile enough to move from one setting to another. These skills will also remain relevant no matter how much the profession changes throughout the years. The essential skills needed by pharmacy technicians include the following:
- Supply Management
- Accurate Reporting
- Quality control
- Analyze information
Pharmacy technicians today are expected to adapt alongside the evolving environment of the pharmacy and the medical care industry, stay updated with new technology and increase their skill set in order to provide better patient care. Our Pharmacy Technician program at American Career College gives you an edge to do well in this exciting industry. Get in touch with us to learn more.