If you wish to pursue a career in the pharmacy field but are limited on time and money to go for a pharmaceutical degree, a pharmacy technician is the best fit. Besides requiring fewer upfront costs, a pharmacy technician has the following benefits:
- Respectable and has professional credibility
- Career advancement opportunity
- Secure employment
- Competitive wages
- Vast knowledge of pharmaceuticals
A pharmacy technician role will set you in the healthcare industry with a chance to advance into a pharmacist. This article will discuss pharmacy technicians’ duties to understand this role further.
But, let’s first learn how to become a certified pharm tech before discussing its duties.
How to Become a Certified Pharmacy Technician
You must pass the PTCB test to become one. But you can quickly fail the PTCB exam if poorly prepared. Browse this site for free PTCB practice tests, comprehensive study guides, and exam simulations to improve your chances of passing your pharmacy tech certification test.
Here are the steps to become a certified pharm tech and practice in your state.
- Get a high school diploma.
- Graduate from a pharmacy technology program, which takes a year or less.
- Get 500 hours of pharm tech experience to qualify for the certification exam.
- Prepare, apply, and take the pharmacy technician certification exam.
- Pass the PTCB exam. You have three retakes to help you pass. Leverage free online preparation resources to boost your chances of passing.
- Apply for your state license after getting your pharm tech certification.
- Attend seminars and be a member of a relevant professional association to meet the continuing education threshold.
- For specialization, you can get IV, chemotherapy, or compounding certifications.
Duties of a Pharmacy Technician
1. Provision of Medication to Patients
You’ll be responsible for issuing prescription medications, including over-the-counter prescriptions. Although you’ll work under the pharmacist’s supervision, you’ll be doing most of the pharmacist’s tasks like giving immunization shots (like the Flu shots).
Additionally, pharmacy technicians ensure medication safety by considering patients’ allergies and drug intolerances for optimum healthcare outcomes.
2. Supervises Compounding Facilities
Pharmacy technicians oversee and manage compounding facilities within hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Compounding involves mixing ingredients to produce safer medications for patients.
It comes with a tight regulatory threshold. Additionally, the production of sterile compounds like chemotherapy medications needs a sound grasp of the aseptic technique besides being a wizard in calculations.
But, for you to compound medications, you’ll need to have special certifications besides the typical pharmacy technology certifications. There are three specialization certifications you can go for:
The course contains medicine compounding, quality control, documentation, etc. It comprises two-day in-person training and ten remote study modules.
The certification allows you to work in compounding facilities. You can oversee, manage, and support the production of medications as per regulatory requirements and standards.
Sterile Product Certification
The course contains remote study modules and hands-on training. It covers:
- Sterile product preparation & handling,
- Vial handling,
- Quality control, and
- Process technique validations.
There are 9 remote study modules and 2 days of practice.
The training consists of nine study modules that include handling dangerous chemotherapy medications, personal safety, risk assessment, etc. It also comprises one day of training and five technical process validations.
You’ll be able to produce and administer chemotherapy medications with this certification.
3. Support Clinical Trial Management
A pharmacy technician can also support clinical trials by working closely with relevant stakeholders. For instance, they help the stakeholders, including sponsors, investigators, study groups, and drug suppliers, stick to trial guidelines.
Additionally, they can support the clinical trials in these ways:
- Monitor weekly or monthly metrics of the trial’s workload activities.
- Produce and issue-specific medications to study groups as per protocol.
- Creating and updating standard operating procedures for technicians during each trial stage.
4. Pharmacy Procurement
Pharmacy technicians can do pharmacy procurement because they control the pharmacy’s inventory. Thus, they can determine medication shortages in the inventory and make subsequent requests for procurement funds to the management.
As a result, they are vital in pharmacy procurement by:
- Selecting the correct quantity of drugs,
- Standard quality,
- Getting the medication on time, and
- Going for the best price.
5. Processing Insurance Claims and Payments
Also, pharmacy technicians help in processing insurance claims and payments in most institutions, particularly for pharmacy billing. For instance, they use the pharmacy bill manager to bill patient insurance companies for prescriptions.
Hence, you’ll need to understand how insurance claims work to ensure maximum care and safety for your patients.
6. Customer Care Service
Additionally, as a pharm tech, you’ll have to check the drug tier, quantity limit, formularies, step therapy, and prior authorization as required by your patient’s insurance benefits.
All these involve communicating with your patient’s insurance company to ensure administrative approvals are granted on time.
For example, oncology treatments may need prior authorizations to ascertain that the medication will be beneficial and necessary. Any delays may be detrimental to the patient’s health. As a pharmacy technician, you’ll need to handle the situation to help your patient receive authorization and treatment on time.
Besides, for mail-order pharmacies, pharmacy technicians are required to handle a lot of communications to track and issue prescription orders.
Here are the different types of pharmacy technicians and their significant roles.
Types of Pharmacy Technicians
|Type of Pharmacy Technician||Primary Role|
|Hospital-based||They work in hospitals. They provide lab preparation and offer IV medication (those offered through tubes & needles).
They maintain drug dispensers and support clinical trials.
|Community/Retail||Found on street drug stores. Conduct consumer service and offer medication advice to patients. For tough questions like dosage and timing, they can consult their pharmacists.|
|Mail-Order||These pharmacy technicians work from a warehouse or front office through which they handle and fill prescriptions to orders.
Additionally, they are responsible for inventory control and documentation of patients’ data & filling the machine.
|Specialty||They support, manage, and oversee compounding facilities in hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.|
The pharmacy technician role is expanding to a lot of career opportunities. They currently control pharmacy inventory, fill prescription orders, compound medication, provide customer support, and clinical trial management.
As a pharmacy technician, you’ll ensure patient safety in healthcare delivery.
The role is evolving and may include some of the functions previously done by pharmacists. Since it requires little time and money, it is relatively easy to manage. So, it may be a perfect fit if you’re on a limited time and budget.