How to become a pharmacy technician
There is no denying the fact that people employed in the health industry continue to grow year after year. Career choices like nurse, doctor, radiologist, urologist, x-ray technician, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and even pharmacy technicians are in demand every single year. Why is that? It’s all because people are still getting sick. They still need the help of doctors and nurses to help figure out what’s wrong with them and they need pharmacy technicians for their medication dispersal.
But what exactly is the role of a pharmacy technician? What are their roles?
Certified pharmacy technicians are responsible for filling up a prescription and they work together with a licensed pharmacist (a pharmacy technician is different from a pharmacist and in countries like the UK, the pharmacist can also be called a pharmacy dispenser). Once the prescription is filled, he or she will check the validity and accuracy. If there are discrepancies, he or she will inform the licensed pharmacist. They are also individuals who are responsible for retrieving the proper or right amount of drugs or medications, along with the labelling of the container.
Education & Training
When you’re aiming to become a pharmacy technician, you need to enrol in courses or programs that are not only focused on giving you the skillset necessary to carry out your pharmacy technician duties, but also to help you pass the pharmacy technician certification or exam. The programs involved usually last for a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 4 years, with associate degrees lasting for 2 years. Some like most degrees, pharmacy technician training programs cover a basic curriculum like English, Math, speech and communication, general psychology, and mathematics. The major programs include biology and chemistry, along with other branches of science related to pharmacy technician. a nurse or a doctor can opt to take pharmacy technician programs and they will probably find it easier than those who have no experience or knowledge about working with the human body because it’s all about knowing what kind of medications to give to a person when they are sick and how chemicals in the body react. In the UK, you’ll find that the courses in pharmacy technicians will also involve a little bit of law, like pharmacology laws, health laws, and even ethics.
Once an individual is done with the program, he or she will be asked to take a certification or exam that will allow him or her to gain a license so he or she can practice in the field of pharmacy technician. one exam is offered by the ICPT or Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians, and one board exam called the PTCB or Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Some states require only one of these certifications while there are other states that require you to not only get a certification but also undergo a formal training program or internship.
Pharmacy technicians will have specific tasks only for them but they will also carry out tasks that a pharmacist or pharmacy dispenser usually carries out. Their basic job duties include the dispersal of medicine, the instruction of the dosage and usage of medications, insurance information management, and also keeping track of the pharmacy inventory. A pharmacy technician can work in various offices like the hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and in pharmaceutical manufacturers or a long-term care facility.
How does one become a pharmacy technician?
Like most careers, becoming a pharmacy technician is not so much of a challenge in terms of surviving it, but rather finding the right educational institution for you to be prepared for the various pharmacy technician certification and exams.
- Your first source is either a community college or vocational school. Some schools in the US offer associate or bachelor’s degrees in pharmacy technology, pharmacology, and other related courses. The best thing that you can do is to visit your local colleges and ask about their courses or programs in pharmacy technician.
- If community colleges or local schools don’t have programs, you can always go for online pharmacy technician degrees offered by schools across the country and in other countries like the UK. Take note that majority of these degrees are accredited by their respective authoritative boards. Check your local colleges or colleges that are located far away from you to see if they offer online degrees in pharmacy technician.
- If push comes to shove, you can always go to the hospitals and clinics, specifically the pharmacies. You can ask your local pharmacists where they got their degree and you can start from there. If they’re born and raised in the same city as you, chances are they went to a school here that offer pharmacy technician courses. If not, you can ask them where the nearest college in your local state that offers pharmacy technicians course.
- The military is also a good way for you to be educated in pharmacy technician. they will send you off to school for free, so you can always opt to choose the schools that have pharmacy technician courses. This will allow you to not only get a degree, but you also serve your country. You’re a hero in two industries.
Certification and exam
A national certification is required by many states as it provides pharmacy technicians to work outside a pharmacy too. the more experienced a pharmacy technician is, the more opportunities are open to them. They can even take a job in pharmaceutical labs and earn a 6-digit starting salary. As mentioned earlier, the ICPT and the PTCB are the two common certification/exam that pharmacy technicians take to become licensed. Once you complete the national certification, you will have the professional designation of certified pharmacy technician or CPhT attached to your name. In order to maintain your license, you need to complete at least 20 hours of education credits every 2 years. This will also allow you to really boost your career by undergoing refresher courses or taking up programs to add to your credentials.
In some states, you need to undergo a training program because it’s required by the board of pharmacy or the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). As part of your certification requirement, you will also need to undergo internship programs or on-the-job training so you are able to get a feel of what it’s like to work as pharmacy technicians.
There are other requirements or credentials that your employer will look into apart from your certification or you passing the exam.
- The experiential hours that were spent on your OJT or internship program actually matters, so it’s an advantage because you don’t need to be trained as much as someone who didn’t undergo a training program. As mentioned earlier, an OJT or internship program is required before you can take certification or exam in some states.
- There are age limits imposed in different states, but you only need to be a minimum age of 18 years old to enrol in pharmacy technicians courses.
- A high school diploma or its equivalent is usually needed.
To be acknowledged as a successful person, there are always tests that needs to be taken to measure the success or efficiency levels. If you want to succeed, then you will have to undergo these test so that your level of understanding on the subject can be measured an graded. Same goes if you want to be a Pharmacy Technician. There are exams, tests and trainings that you must undergo in order to be qualified for your job. To help pass your exams, here are some tips that you could utilize to perform better:
How to pass your training program and certifications
Board exams and certifications are nerve-wrecking, and the pharmacy technician certification exam is no exception. If you want to pass your training program and your certifications, you can follow these awesome tips.
Know the passing mark
It’s a good idea in your pharmacy technician journey that you know how much you need to pass in your subjects and how much you need to get in your certification or exam. This will not only serve as your benchmark but also provide you with a ceiling on what you need to achieve to be considered as an exceptional student. If the passing grade is 40%, you can always aim for higher than 40. In this day and age, employers will actually look into your grades so you getting a very high mark over the passing mark can be a big boost.
Know the role
When psychologists are still studying, it’s already imprinted in their minds on what they need to do and what they’re going to be doing in their career. This should be emphasised with pharmacy technicians too. There’s no better way to understand your subjects than to understand your role. Why do you need to disperse this amount of medication for a sick patient? Why this amount and why not this? Your job is to identify the dosage needed for a particular patient, so their life practically lies in your hands. During your OJT or internship as a pharmacy technician, you will be able to see what it’s like to work as a pharmacy technician in the hospital or clinic. Only then will your lessons from now to the future, as well as your past lessons, make sense.
Practice makes perfect
People that take certification exams usually work with practice tests to see how much they can get in one go. These tests are usually handed to you by your teachers in a reviewer course, or you can find one online. Through these practice tests, you will be able to see what the items are usually found in the certification or exam and what the types of tests are found. This will allow you to help you manage your time wisely when it’s time to take the test.
Study the law
In careers related to science, like psychologists, chemists, and pharmacy technicians, one must be familiar with the laws. in this case, a pharmacy technician needs to know what laws are governing or surrounding the health care system in the United States or in any given country. You don’t have to study all of them, as they are offered by your pharmacy technicians training programs as subjects.
Review old books and notes
You should always make friends with older students as they have notes or books that you can make use of in your reviews or studies. They may also have important lessons that your teacher failed to bring up, or other small details that will help you pass your training program or certification. If you’re lucky enough to go to a reviewer or review program, you’ll find that old books are what’re commonly used by both teachers and students. Another suggestion is to buy old books from your seniors. Chances are, they have notes in every page so you can study them as well.
Form a study group
You cannot survive pharmacy technician courses on your own, so you need help from your classmates to survive the gruelling subjects. I highly suggest that you also take practice tests together so you will be able to pinpoint what needs to be improved or learned. If you don’t understand a particular concept, your classmates can help you understand that by teaching you. You can also do the same thing for them. This is all about teamwork.
Pharmacy Technicians: a defining career choice
Jobs in the health care industry will continue to grow within the next few decades, as forecasted by the BLS. For pharmacy technicians, a steady rise of up to 32% is predicted by the year 2016. Apart from the BLS, other agencies have come to the same conclusion that jobs in the health care industry will increase exponentially. With the aging baby-boom population reaching their golden years and the number of people getting sick every day, it’s no surprise that hospitals and clinics will always have the need for health care specialists and pharmacy technicians are one of them.