Key Elements of Pharmacy Technician Training
According to The National Pharmacy Technician Association, there are nearly 40,000 new pharmacy technician openings in the country each year. But the news is even better than that. The Department of Labor predicts that jobs for pharmacy techs will grow by an astounding 32 percent over the decade between 2006 and 2016. While many pharmacies provide their own training, the government reports that employers favor hiring graduates of formal training and certification programs.
Pharmacy techs are not the employees who answer phones or handle the cash register (these are pharmacy assistants); pharmacy techs assist in the preparation of prescriptions, label products, maintain drug inventories, track insurance claims, and maintain patient records. They work in retail stores and pharmacies, in hospitals and clinics, in nursing homes and, in today's online word, often take jobs with mail-order pharmacies. Here are some critical skills that you'll need to learn in any pharmacy technician training program:
- The prescription process
- Pharmacy terminology
- Information elements of a prescription or medication order
- Label information
- Safe-handling of hazardous medications
- Proper storage and security conditions for drugs
- Pharmaceutical calculations
- Basic pharmacology and drug information.
Not many states require that pharmacy techs hold certifications, however many employers are increasingly recruiting techs that are certified. Exams are held regularly by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board for those who wish to earn formal credentials.
The certification exam is a 100-question test, done at a computer, requiring a score of 75 percent or higher for a passing grade. Multiple-choice questions cover skills in assisting pharmacists, maintaining inventory control, and making accurate pharmacy calculations. If you pass, you'll hold a designation of Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT).
To maintain your certification, you'll need to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. Ongoing classes can cover a wide range of topics, including a review of medications, specific medical conditions, and patient ethics. Find Pharmacy Technican Degrees online or at a campus near you.