Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. After a pharmacist reviews a doctor's prescription for errors or potential problems, pharmacy technicians perform the more routine, repetitive tasks of preparing prescription medicines for patients, such as counting pills, putting medicines in containers, labeling and packaging.
In hospitals, pharmacy technicians prepare individual patient doses (called a 'unit doses') of each medication a patient will receive that day. This may include pills or capsules, intravenous drugs and injections. Pharmacy technicians transfer liquid medicines into syringes and mix intravenous drugs into solution bags. Each major task is overseen and checked by a pharmacist.
Pharmacy technicians use computers to check for medical insurance information and to print out the labels that go on prescriptions. Keeping track of inventory, ordering when stocks are low and stocking shelves are also part of their duties. They may answer phones and verify prescription refill information from physicians. In community pharmacies, they verify insurance coverage, collect money and answer routine questions from the public.
Pharmacy technicians must be detail-oriented and very accurate. They must be licensed by the California Board of Pharmacy. This requires a prerequisite of a high school diploma or GED. To apply for state certification you must also complete coursework in one of the following:
- An Associate degree program in pharmacy technology
- A training course accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
- Any other course that provides a minimum of 240 hours instruction as specified in section 1793.6 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations
- Or graduation from a school of pharmacy accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE)
Individuals also need to have good computer skills, type 35 wpm and have normal color vision and no history of drug abuse.
Links to Additional Career Information
Council on Credentialing in Pharmacy (CCP) www.pharmacycredentialing.org
Pharmacy Technician Educators Council (PTEC) www.rxptec.org
Career One Stop www.careeinfonet.org
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