What is a pharmacy technician? This person is a healthcare worker who works under the supervision of a pharmacist and performs pharmacy-related functions.
Learn more about what a pharmacy technician is from one of our experts, below.
What is a pharmacy technician expected to do?
Two major functions of a pharmacy technician are as follows:
- Reading prescriptions from customers and transcribing them into a label by inputting the information into the computer database. Once a label is created, a drug is pulled from the shelf, and counted and put into the newly labeled bottle. This then goes to the pharmacist for the final check.
- Keeping the pharmacy clean and making certain that the temperatures are legally accurate. Those would include: room temperature, refrigerator (including vaccines) and freezers where applicable.
The pharmacy technician is expected to perform these tasks without being reminded. Pharmacy is very much about routine and time sensitivity.
What is a Pharmacy Technician Expected to Know?
The job of a pharmacy technician is one of multi-tasking. It is a position in a medical environment that gives a person the opportunity to study and excel in medical terminology, pharmacology, computations, metric conversions, federal and state law, and inventory management to name the basics.
Depending upon which venue you choose to work in, you have different opportunities to serve customers/patients.
“I’ve loved it all—every detail. What I like most about working the pharmacy job is my interaction with customers/patients.
It is by far the most rewarding portion of the experience to me.”
I came into the job before it was a refined position. The bulk of my work has been in retail pharmacy although I’ve worked in hospital as well. There are also mail-order pharmacies and closed-shop pharmacies that cater to medicine-on-time packaging for assisted living homes and those that cater to free care clinics.
There is a great deal of clerical portions to the job. In retail, there is the never-ending cash register and telephone. Depending upon where you work, there could be a drive-thru window. Also, there is the organizing of the prescriptions and their filing.
Techs spend a great deal of time learning about prescription insurance, which is so often different from a patient’s medical plan. The patient can be unclear as to what their benefits entail. The tech’s job becomes more complicated because of this and they are often the “messenger” in these situations.
What is a Pharmacy Technician’s Secret to Success?
There are several secrets. Read these carefully.
Make it your point to learn portions of the job beyond just filling prescriptions. Study inventory, ordering, drug categories and as much law as you can get your hands on.
Knowledge of the law cannot be overstated. Stay on top of it. It’s your job and your legal obligation.
It is a field where you subordinate your ego for the benefit of the medical team you work with. It is the perfect job for someone who wants to learn the medical industry and deal intently with the public.
It is critical to always look ahead.
A quality tech learns something every day!
In any medical job, one is always keenly aware of the HIPAA policy. Techs never speak of their customers/patients—ever!!
Be a team player. A pharmacy does not function well unless techs are able to count on each other.
Most importantly, the tech is there to submit a highly accurate product for the pharmacist to check. The product, of course, is the prescription to be dispensed to a patient. Ultimately, a tech should reach the in-house goals set for them by their organization.
But getting national certification should be the pharmacy tech’s true personal goal. It is attainable and exemplifies a level of excellence and respect that every pharmacy technician should aspire to!
Photo credit: National Cancer Institute.
Ellen Schaefer is a CPhT, RMA, CPT and PTCB item writing specialist.
Was one of 50 writers chosen from a pool of nearly 500 applicants to prepare questions for the National Certification exam for pharmacy technicians. Further, of those 50, fourteen were chosen to finalize the exams at a conference in Washington, D.C.