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The Function of Pharmacy Techs
Pharmacy techs have numerous job duties, but their principal duty is to dispense prescription medicines. Since they are not licensed, when filling prescriptions they must perform under the supervision of a licensed Arizona pharmacist. They must also have good customer service skills since they will be dealing directly with customers. Their attention to detail must be precise when preparing prescription medications per the pharmacist's directions. And they must have an in-depth knowledge of pharmaceutical terms in order that they can help customers with understanding directions for their medications as well as other pharmaceutical information and literature. However, under no circumstance should they ever provide medical advice concerning prescriptions or anything else. Any such questions should be directed to the pharmacist. A few of the regular daily duties a pharmacy technician may perform are:
- Welcome and help customers with medications and other questions
- Dispense prescription medications under pharmacist guidance
- Add customer and prescription data into pharmacy computer system
- Contact customers when their medications are ready for pick-up
- Prepare and submit customer insurance claim forms
- Stock shelves and audit and manage inventory
As a consequence of their profession, pharmacy technicians will spend most of their working day on their feet. And working weekends and evenings is also typical, especially for newer techs with low seniority. But the payoff for occasional tired and aching feet or occasionally having to work off-hours is an extremely gratifying career assisting customers with their health and well-being.
Pharmacy Tech Diplomas and Degrees
Individuals desiring to enroll in a pharmacy tech school are qualified as long as they have a high school diploma or equivalent. There are generally 2 options to becoming a tech regardless if you enroll in a community college or a trade school. The first is to attain a diploma or a certificate, which typically can be finished in a year or less. These programs provide an introduction to the different facets of pharmacology and pharmaceutical technology and generally include classroom and lab training. Many programs also require an internship at an approved Arizona pharmacy or other facility. The second option is the Associate Degree program which usually involves about two years of studies. Although not needed for most entry level positions, it does provide a more expansive education and opens doors to more advanced positions or education in the future. Each program can provide the proper level of training to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam should the graduate decide to get certified.
Pharmacist Tech Certifications Available
It is not required to earn certification in all states, but a large number of graduates of pharmacy technician programs elect to become certified so as to be more qualified when seeking employment. Additionally, many Arizona employers will only hire a technician that is certified. There are 2 organizations that offer certification:
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)
The NHA requirements are that the candidate be 18 years or older, be a high school graduate, has finished a training program, and has one or more years of work experience. The PTCB just requires that the applicant has graduated high school and passes their exam. Recertification is required every two years by both programs, which may be fulfilled by performing 20 hours of continuing education.
Pharmacist Tech Schools Online
Prior to choosing a pharmacy tech online college, it's important to realize that the majority of schools do require that a substantial part of the training be carried out in a clinical setting. This is commonly fulfilled in an area Arizona pharmacy or health center through an internship program. Students often will have the benefit of working with an experienced pharmacy tech so as to receive some work place experience. Fortunately the non-clinical portion of the training may be accessed online in your Arizona home or via any available computer. This alternative is more convenient for many students, especially for those who keep working while earning their certificate or degree. And online programs are often less expensive than classroom options. Tuition and costs for driving and course materials can be decreased significantly. With both the clinical and the online training, a complete education is provided. But not all online programs are accredited, which is important for securing certification and employment (more on accreditation later). So check that any online college you are looking at is accredited by an acknowledged accrediting agency, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). If you are disciplined enough to learn with a less structured form of education, then online instruction may be the right choice for you.