Do you think you have what it takes to become a successful pharmacy technician? Take a look at this in-depth analysis of the typical pharmacy technician job description. If you want to be successful in this career choice, you want to be certain that many of your attributes line up with the mental and physical characteristics needed to perform well seen in the everyday life of many pharmacy technicians.
Let me start out by saying that regardless of what area you pursue (institutional or retail) for the most part, you will be involved in a fast paced environment. Certain times of the day can be stressful for many pharmacy technicians. For example, if you are working in retail you will most likely deal with short-tempered customers that are eager to drop off their prescriptions and be on their way in five minutes or less. There will be insurance issues that you will have to deal with on a regular basis. With the emergence of the internet, you have the added feature for online refills. This adds to the already heavy workload due to drop off prescriptions and phone in prescription refills.
If you are focusing mainly on an institutional setting, your focus will be on hospitalized patients and patients having procedures done in the clinics. This setting has a whole different stress level of its own. For example let’s say a patient is due for some type of surgery, the surgeon realizes that he needs a different IV bag, he calls down to the pharmacy and orders and IV stat. Being the IV room technician, it is your job and responsibility to prepare the IV admixture in record time. More cases than not, this can be a life or death situation. Imagine having the pressure mount on you knowing that you have to prepare this in a timely fashion, but you also have to prepare it with accuracy.
Here’s a general breakdown of the typical pharmacy technician job description for most pharmacy technicians. The main goal for a pharmacy technician is to assist the pharmacist in his duties and to provide the best customer service to patients. A pharmacy technician will receive prescriptions via telephone, fax, internet, and walk-ins. They generally are responsible for answering phone calls, but are limited by law to the advice that they may give out. Technicians will generally fill medication carts for the patients that are hospitalized. These medication carts are filled with one, two, or three days worth of meds. They are delivered to the patient floors and meds are dispensed accordingly.
Other duties include stocking medication on the shelves, ordering supplies, pre-packing medications, assisting customers in outpatient pharmacies, counting tablets, and doing some form of compounding of creams and ointments. Due to the structure of the pharmacy, some technicians will prepare IV admixtures. IV admixtures take a bit more training due to the implications that occur from technician error. Intravenous medications are given through the vein, which means the drug has instant contact with the blood stream. Knowing this, technicians have to be certain that the amount of drug is correct; also they have to be certain that they are using the most sterile technique as possible. Some technicians are eventually trained in chemotherapy agents that are given intravenously. Technicians without the proper training should never attempt to prepare these types of IV admixtures.
Technicians should have a great working knowledge of basic math skills, should have wonderful communication skills (verbal and written). The technician should be familiar with both weighing and measuring of medications. Due to the need for order entry, it is heavily advised that pharmacy technicians have some sort of computer skills. Some pharmacies look for technicians that are self motivated and action takers. The job can require long hours of standing with little to no breaks throughout the day.
The pharmacy technician job description may seem very draining at first, but it does have its upside as well. For starters there will be a huge demand for these career professionals. With the shortage of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians will be in great need to handle the technical side of things. These are areas that the pharmacist will have little to no time to oversee these areas. As far as financial rewards, many pharmacy technicians are paid handsomely for their efforts. One thing to keep in mind is that most institutional pharmacy technicians generally make more than retail pharmacy technicians. If you are after the financial gains, then Hospital Pharmacy is where you will find the financial benefits. Another added benefit is that you can advance your career in many ways as a technician. You can become certified. You can continue schooling and become an actual pharmacist. Some technicians enter this field and go on to become nurses. Entering this field can be a springboard for other healthcare occupations.
Now that you have seen a general Pharmacy technician job description overview, ask yourself do you have what it takes? Assess your skills. Focus on your strengths and weaknesses. Analyze the pros and cons of both the retail and the hospital setting. See which area will be of greater interest to you and a perfect match for your abilities. After you have made a complete and thorough analysis, get the training and get started in your new career that will reward you for years to come.