The position of a pharmacy technician carries a lot of responsibility. Actions of the pharmacy technician can have an impact on people’s health, and any mistake could mean life or death for a patient.
Why Become a Pharmacy Technician?
If you are attracted to becoming a pharmacy technician because you enjoy helping people, there are other benefits to consider about this occupation. Other benefits of a career as a pharmacy technician include good pay with the potential to grow, continual learning, a growing field, job security, and a starting off point for furthering a career.
State Requirements and Certification
Training for pharmacy technicians is geared to prepare students to meet the standards in their state for the job. Requirements change from state to state, but most states require approved training, a criminal background check, registration, and an exam. Receiving a certificate is essential because some employers require certification of their pharmacy technicians by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Many states and pharmacies require pharmacy technicians to register with their states Board of Pharmacy.
To become a pharmacy technician, there are specific certifications and courses that you can take. Many pharmacy technician training programs are offered through on-campus or online learning. Not all programs are the same, but generally, in pharmacy technician schools, students can expect to gather everything they need to know to be successful in their careers.
Curriculum for Pharmacy Technician
There is a lot to know for a career as a pharmacy technician, including medical and scientific knowledge, technological applications, legal and regulatory standards, mathematical calculations, customer service, organizational skills, team dynamics, and attention to detail.
The curriculum will be different from school to school, but the typical courses covered include:
- The orientation of the pharmacy and pharmacy technician’s role
- Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
- Anatomy and physiology
- Basic and applies pharmacology
- Retail, community and hospital pharmacy
- Pharmaceutical and dosage calculations (math)
- Pharmaceutical law and ethics
- Pharmacy record software and storage
Many pharmacy technician training programs include a mandatory internship in a pharmacy setting to gain on-the-job experience under a pharmacist. Good pharmacy technician training programs will over the hands-on experience through a course, but also in the school’s on-site labs, which provides excellent practical learning and knowledge for students to be ready when they’ve completed school.
Other aspects of pharmacy technician school are that type classes are smaller sizes, and allow students to prepare for a career, and to write and pass the national certification exam. Courses will prepare pharmacy technician students in four main areas – math, science, customer service, and technical skills.
- Math – a pharmacy technician will have to deal with lots of numbers and will need to develop in-depth proficiency with fractions, percentages, necessary computations, and algebra. Your maths skills need to be healthy so that you don’t make any mistakes and can potentially catch errors someone else might have created. Pharmacy technician school prepares you for mathematical tasks that you will have to perform every day by reinforcing math knowledge and familiarization with the metric system.
- Science – some courses in pharmacy technician school will include chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. A pharmacy technician needs to understand how chemicals work, interact, and affect a person’s body. Learning these skills translates into a pharmacy technician’s daily job when they are mixing and dispensing medications for their patients.
- Customer Service – pharmacy technicians are typically the frontline person in the pharmacy greeting customers. So, it is more than likely you will be working closely with patients as a pharmacy technician. Courses in pharmacy technician schools will help students learn how to deal with customers in a friendly manner and how to put their minds at ease. In the classes, you will learn how to problem-solve and deal with customers who might become angry and are hard to manage if a difficult situation should arise.
- Technical Skills – hands-on learning and experience are critical in a pharmacy technician program training. Your pharmacy technician school should prepare you for the job, which includes assessing prescription orders for authenticity, managing inventory, processing insurance, and tracking controlled substances. In the pharmacy technician school, you should also learn and receive training in legal, ethical practices, and pharmaceutical computing.
Dealing with Pharmacy Technician School
Pharmacy technician courses can involve a lot of memorization, especially courses like pharmacology. Luckily, the right pharmacy technician school will have small class sizes, which makes it easier to get one-on-one instructions from professors. Small class sizes also help with getting to know classmates quickly and forming study groups to help one another.
As in any course, make sure to review your notes regularly or make flashcards to help you memorize, and ask for help when you need it. Like many courses, pharmacy technician school requires time management, but this helps to prepare you for your career in the workforce. Pharmacy technician programs are fast-paced, and students need to keep on top of their lectures, internship assignments, exams, and labs in order to pass.
Depending on the state you live in, your requirements for a career as a pharmacy technician can be different. Generally, programs depending on if you go for a certificate or associate degree can take months to two years to complete.
Choosing the right pharmacy technician school is essential to your success. In school, you quickly learn the importance of prioritizing and staying organized, which helps you in your career as a pharmacy technician.