Becoming a Pharmacy Technician Instructor

Here, an experience pharmacy technician instructor shares his story of the path his career has taken, as well as some of the rewarding aspects of being a pharmacy technician instructor.

I have worked in a variety of areas in pharmacy over past 20 years. I have always tried to keep a lookout for new opportunities to advance my career and support my family.

On one such occasion, a listing appeared for an adjunct instructor in a pharmacy technician program. I’d never thought about teaching before but my wife thought that I would be good at this role.

We joked about it being a hobby for me that paid for everyone else’s hobbies. It would bring in extra money and get me out of the usual home-to-office routine. I got offered my first adjunct instructor position in May 2008.

My Favorite Aspects of Being a Pharmacy Technician Instructor

Teaching in the pharmacy technician program was a particular challenge for me in that my own training was on-the-job in a retail setting.

I was trained in areas of pharmacy operations, customer service, and inventory control. I didn’t have the clinical instruction that I was now giving to others. You pick up on some clinical aspects in your daily duties. In some cases, I was learning along with my students.

But having a solid background with pharmacy operations and managed care helps the students know how the real world of pharmacy works and how they can assist their pharmacists and customers.

My students really enjoy when we have the hands-on lessons. The labs introduce the student in preparing prescriptions. This covers simple counting or measuring of oral doses to IV preparation and simple compounding. The pharmacology sections of the course teach the clinical aspects of the various drug classes.

I feel that students can relate to this course more because everyone has taken or administered medication at some point in their life.

Their experiences spark an added interest for that particular chapter of the text. I have included field trips when the scheduling allowed.

One in particular provided me with insight into the use of new technology in today’s pharmacy. Scanned pharmacy orders may be viewed by technicians and entered into the system. This allows slower pharmacies to assist busier locations. The order is still filled at the location it was dropped off.

The most rewarding moment occurred one term as we discussed how drugs work by attaching to receptor sites. After reviewing that topic, a student commented that she had learned more in that one night than the whole term.

If you are looking for other career alternatives, one could be searching out an independent pharmacy.

Alternatives To Teaching – Independent Pharmacy Jobs

There may be advantages to independent pharmacy jobs over jobs with chain pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreen’s. Why?

Well, as with any organization, sometimes bigger is not better. Smaller companies–which characterizes an independent pharmacy–are often more flexible and treat their employees like people rather than a “number.”

A recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports showed that 94% of its readers (pharmacy consumers) are very satisfied with service at their independent pharmacy.

The survey found that these pharmacies made fewer errors, provided faster service, and were more likely to have meds ready for pickup when they promised. Survey respondents also felt that staff at independent pharmacies were more helpful and knowledgeable.

That speaks volumes about the attitude of the pharmacy staff, and how happy they are in their jobs. They are more likely to be satisfied with their job, and that is why they offer better service to their customers.

Think about it… if you are miserable in your job, how likely is it that you will provide high quality service to your customers? With statistics like those in this survey (94% of Consumer Reports’ readership), you can’t ignore the obvious conclusion: Working in an independent pharmacy may be better than working for the “big guys.”

You can view the full report on the survey on the Consumer Reports website.

Also in the news is the strike by pharmacists in California who work for Kaiser Permanente, a very large health-system organization. Any strike signals great dissatisfaction by employees.

Another benefit with independent pharmacy jobs is that they may be more likely to hire someone with less experience than a large, corporate pharmacy. If you present yourself as dedicated, willing to learn, and reliable, an independent pharmacy may give you a chance that a chain pharmacy may not.

Independent Pharmacy Jobs in Jeopardy

Lots of drugs to keep track of in any pharmacy.

More large companies are either buying out small, independent pharmacies or getting into the pharmacy business themselves. For example, Amazon purchased the online pharmacy PillPack. Large insurers such as Aetna want a piece of the pie, too. Aetna recently merged with CVS Health. Large pharmacies typically offer lower prices and participate in plans such as Medicare, leaving customers to decide whether it’s worth it to pay more for the experience at an independent pharmacy.

Independent pharmacies can offer a more individualized, personal experience, but customers must decide if it is worth a potentially higher cost.

Getting experience working at an independent pharmacy first may be a good move, though, giving you the perspective of how better customer service can improve your own job satisfaction.

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