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The Job of a Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians have many job duties, but their primary responsibility is to dispense prescription medications. Since they are not licensed, when dispensing prescriptions they must operate under the management of a licensed Alaska pharmacist. They must also have great customer service skills since they will be interacting directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be absolute when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they need to have an extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they may help customers with understanding directions for their prescriptions in addition to other pharmaceutical literature and information. On the other hand, under no situation should they ever offer medical advice regarding prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions would be handled by the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily tasks a pharmacy technician might carry out are:
- Welcome and help customers with prescriptions and other questions
- Prepare prescription medicines under pharmacist direction
- Enter prescription and customer data into pharmacy computer system
- Call customers when their medications are prepared for pick-up
- Complete and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Re-supply shelves and audit and control inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend the majority of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also very common, particularly for newer technicians with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally being required to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career helping customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Technician Certificates and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy technician school are qualified provided that they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 alternatives to becoming a technician whether you enroll in a community college or a vocational school. The first is to attain a certificate or a diploma, which usually can be accomplished in a year or less. These programs offer an overview to the various facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and typically include classroom and lab training. Numerous programs also include an internship at an approved Alaska pharmacy or other facility. The second alternative is the Associate Degree program which typically requires about 2 years of studies. Although not required for most entry level positions, it does offer a more comprehensive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education down the road. Either program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate choose to get certified.
Pharmacy Technician Certifications Offered
Certification is not required in every state, but numerous graduates of pharmacy tech programs opt to become certified so as to be more qualified in the job market. Also, a number of Alaska employers will only employ a technician that has earned certification. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requires that the candidate be at least 18 years old, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has at least one year of professional experience. The PTCB only requires that the candidate has a high school diploma and passes their exam. Recertification is mandated every 2 years by each program, which may be fulfilled by completing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacy Technician Online Schools
Before selecting a pharmacy technician online school, it's important to understand that the majority of programs do require that a substantial part of the training be completed in a clinical environment. This is usually fulfilled in a local Alaska pharmacy or health center by means of an internship program. Students often will have the opportunity to work under a seasoned pharmacy tech so as to obtain some real world experience. However the non-clinical portion of the training may be taken over the internet in your Alaska home or via any available computer. This option is more practical for many students, especially for those who continue to work while acquiring their certificate or degree. And online programs are sometimes more affordable than classroom options. Tuition and expenses for driving and course materials can be decreased substantially. With both the online and the clinical training, a comprehensive education is offered. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So verify that each online program you are considering is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting organization, for instance the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online training might be the right choice for you.