Pharmacy Technicians work closely with the Pharmacist to dispense medication to patients in the safest, most effective way. Their work involves an eye for detail, strong administrative skills and good people skills.
Description of Massachusetts health care career information and daily work:
Pharmacy Technicians assist licensed Pharmacists in dispensing drugs and health care products to patients and consumers. They work closely with the Pharmacist to ensure that every medication and dose is accurate before it is released from the pharmacy. If you are interested in science, medicine and people, this may be the right career for you.
Pharmacy Technicians work either in a retail pharmacy (within a drug store, grocery store or independent pharmacy) or a health care institution such as a hospital or nursing home. Pharmacy Technicians working in retail pharmacies talk with patients when they are dropping off or picking up prescriptions, ensure that the right prescription is being given to the right patient, assist the Pharmacist with filling and labeling prescriptions, enter information (including health insurance) into the computer system, prepare the inventory, prepackage bulk medications, screen telephone calls for the pharmacist and communicate with insurance companies. According to the bureau of labor statistics, two-thirds of all Pharmacy Technician jobs are in retail pharmacies.
Those Pharmacy Technicians who work in a hospital or other heath care setting are more active physically because their job includes picking up and dropping off physicians order and filled prescriptions throughout the facility. Like the tasks performed in a retail pharmacy, you assist the Pharmacist in filling and labeling prescriptions and recording patient information into the computer, but you also assist in preparing nutritional solutions, intravenous mixes and drugs for clinical investigations.
As a Pharmacy Technician, you will be on your feet much of the time. Pharmacy technicians work the same hours as Pharmacists, which often includes nights, weekends and holidays.
Education Requirements, Licensure/Certification:
In Massachusetts, only a "Pharmacy Technician Trainee, Pharmacy Technician, a certified Pharmacy Technician or a Pharmacy Intern may be employed in a pharmacy to assist the Pharmacist" (MA Board of Registration in Pharmacy.)
A Pharmacy Trainee is not required to graduate from a Board approved technician training program to qualify as a certified Pharmacy Technician. But in order to become certified, the trainee must obtain a National PTCB certificate from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (go to www.ptcb.org for more information on the exam.) In short, eligibility requirements are: experience working as a Pharmacy Trainee, a high school diploma or GED and never having been convicted of a felony.
Once you are certified through the PCTB, this still does not mean that you are registered in Massachusetts. You can register as a pharmacy technician in Massachusetts if you meet the following requirements:
Be at least 18 years old;
Prove good moral character and not be convicted of a drug felony;
Have a high school diploma or GED or be working toward one (you need the diploma or GED to take the PCTB exam)
Completed a Board approved program OR have worked for 500-1,000 hours as a pharmacist trainee under the direct supervision of a pharmacist and
Pass an exam issued by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board OR pharmacy employer (see "School section" for more information.)
So, in order to register in Massachusetts, you can either complete a program or work AND pass the PTCB exam or pass an exam that your employer gives to you. You cannot register with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy directly, but with their vendor, Professional Credential Services (PCS.) PCS handles the registration process for the Board. Their website is www.pcshq.com.
A person as young as 16 years old can be employed in the pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician Trainee, but would not be eligible to register as a Pharmacy Technician until his or her 18th birthday.
Most Pharmacy Technicians receive on the job training, although employers are increasingly hiring those who have completed a formal training program. Pharmacy Technician programs consist of classroom and laboratory work. Classes focus on medical and pharmaceutical terminology, calculations, and recordkeeping. Students also learn medication names, actions, uses and doses.
If you are thinking about becoming a Pharmacy Technician, you should have strong mathematics, spelling and reading skills. Classes that would be a useful foundation for this work are chemistry, algebra, English and health education.
The full-time median annual earnings for Pharmacy Technicians nationally in 2002 was $10.70 per hour and certified technicians earned more. There is often an increase in wage for working nights, weekends and holidays. In Massachusetts, in 205, the hourly range was $11.15 - $18.15.
Career Path and/or Opportunities for Growth:
Pharmacy technicians may also choose to move from a retail or hospital environment to a managed care company. Managed care companies require a pharmacy technician certification (CPhT), a completed high school diploma or GED (you can be in the process of obtaining your high school diploma or GED to work in most retail or hospital settings) and two years working in a pharmacy setting. Work in managed care involves strong organizational, communication and mathematics skills because you problem solve insurance claims and pharmacy benefits, file reports and provide telephone and administrative support to the company.
The employment outlook for Pharmacy Technicians is strong due to the increase use of medication. Pharmacy Technicians will play a greater role in retail pharmacies as more functions become automated and require knowledge of technology and pharmacy.
Currently, there are 26 pharmacy technician programs approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy. These programs are approved for one year only, therefore program information changes frequently and the Board does not keep a list on their website. Programs can be offered through a pharmacy employer (such as Walgreens and CVS), through a hospital (such as Massachusetts General Hospital or Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) or through a college program (such as Mt. Ida College or Bunker Hill Community College.) There are also programs offered on line. While there may be many pharmacy technician programs available, not all of them are approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy. Board approved programs receive a letter from the Board which gives them approval until December 31st of that year. Make sure that you ask a potential program operator if they have a Board approved letter for the program for which you are interested in applying.
Professional Associations and Credentialing Services: