What is a Pharmacy Technician?

While the majority of  pharmacy technicians work in traditional retail or hospital pharmacies under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, these versatile health care professionals can also be found in long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, third-party insurance providers, or even in government or teaching. The typical day of a pharmacy technician will be spent dispensing prescription drugs and related medical devices to customers and instructing on their use. In addition to patient-facing duties, they also work behind the scenes confirming prescription requests with the doctor’s office, verifying insurance issues, and making sure payments are correctly provided from the insurer.

The role of the pharmacy technicians has been expanded in some places to counsel clients directly on proper medication usage. They have become increasingly important in the overall patient-to-pharmacy experience, especially due to a recent shortage of licensed  pharmacists. They can also be called upon to learn relevant software programs and manage inventory.

Certification for pharmacy technicians has been largely voluntary, (although virtually required if they want employers to look a their resumes), but it does vary by state. In general, employers prefer candidates who have been certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Until January 2020, anyone with a high school diploma could study on their own and then attempt the PTCB’s exam that would qualify them for certification. Beginning in 2020, there will be an educational requirement to sit for this exam, and the educational program’s curriculum will need to be accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). Anyone starting a pharmacy technician program now should check to see if their program will qualify just in case they don’t get around to taking the exam in 2020. Career Step’s Pharmacy Technician online training is already accredited in anticipation of this change. In addition practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, will help any candidate’s resume stand out. The Career Step program includes this hands-on training to smooth the transition from classroom to workplace.

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