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If you’re considering working in healthcare, it’s important to know what jobs are out there and which one is best for you. Pharmacy technicians provide daily support to pharmacists and their clients, and as their job duties expand in the post-pandemic world, so do opportunities for those looking to enter the field. Check out what you need to know to start a rewarding career in this growing industry.
Pharmacy technicians are credentialed professionals who have a strong balance between soft skills and technical training. Detail-oriented and possessing strong communication skills, pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists to fill prescriptions and provide customer service, like answering phone calls and customer questions relating to medication directions.
Pharmacy technician duties can vary depending upon where you work, like a retail pharmacy, hospital, or mail order pharmacy. Some differences include:
Retail pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians working in retail pharmacies are finding themselves with expanding job duties. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authorized pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines and immunizations in addition to their more traditional services of filling prescriptions and educating clients on medications.
Hospital pharmacy. Hospital pharmacy technicians work with intravenous medicines as well as maintaining and servicing drug-dispensary machines, and assist with purchasing medications from pharmaceutical companies. They also assist with clinical trials by ensuring guidelines are strictly followed.
Mail order pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians working in mail order pharmacies have similar duties to those working in retail pharmacies, and even some overlap with hospital pharmacy technicians, however, they don’t have as many patient interactions and they are working in a more traditional, office-like environment. They will receive fill requests, maintain proper storage for medications, and process daily mail shipments.
While the basic work of a pharmacy technician is the same no matter where you work, the day-to-day tasks can vary depending on the type of office in which you work.
Naji Brooks is a pharmacy technician working in a retail pharmacy. As the only pharmacy in her area open on Sundays, it can be rather busy despite it being the weekend, with her shift lasting from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Her day starts by selecting different medications to count, ensuring the pill count is correct. This can take a few hours, with her receiving calls and visits from customers simultaneously. She also organizes filled orders alphabetically so they’re ready for pick-up when customers come into the store. When prescriptions aren’t picked up after an extended period of time, it’s her duty to remove and dispose of personal information before returning the medications to the stock shelves.
Keana Conyers works as a pharmacy technician in a hospital. Her duties are more clerical in nature than those of retail pharmacy technicians. She starts her day going through patient files, printing and completing the paperwork for those who need medications, making sure everything from the medication to instructions and dosage is up to date. Keana then splits her day in half, with her morning spent calling patient rooms to review medications and instructions. Since phone calls are not ideal for all patients, such as the elderly, she spends the second half of her day doing room visits to review the same information. Once finished, she returns to her office to transfer her notes into the hospital’s digital system, including patient notes, questions, and any information that may differ from when they were first prescribed their medications.
The day-to-day duties in a mail order pharmacy are often a combination of what you’d experience working in retail and hospitals. You’ll have daily responsibilities found in retail, like sorting and counting medications, as well as organizing orders for delivery, but you will also contact patients via telephone, logging similar information and notes like you would working in a hospital.
Even though you’ll be working under the guidance of a pharmacist, the role of pharmacy technician comes with a degree of stress and high pressure. When dealing with medications, accuracy is of the utmost importance, with the possibility of risks to the health of patients if mistakes are made. Pharmacy technicians also have the added duty of customer service, which is widely known to be difficult, regardless of what industry you work in. You’ll need to be prepared to sometimes deal with unhappy, frustrated people. In retail pharmacies, customers also become irritable with long lines and waits, adding another element of stress to the pharmacy technician. It’s important to remind yourself to be patient and compassionate, no matter how difficult a person may be.
Like any job, there are positives and negatives to being a pharmacy technician. Some of the most common in each category are:
Read more: About the Pharmacy Tech Certification Exam
ly and don’t like a lot of structure or routine, this might not be the best job option for you.
is also means that you may be expected to work some weekend hours, depending upon whether or not the pharmacy operates on weekends.
Even though these points are broken down into ‘pros’ and ‘cons’, not everyone is the same, so what may be listed as a positive, might not be a benefit for you. If you dislike interacting with others or are more of an introvert who likes working independently, helping others might not be an ideal part of the job. Similarly, some people enjoy going into work knowing exactly how most of their day will play out, so repetitive work might be exactly what you’re looking for in your career. Regardless, the option of working in retail, hospital, or online pharmacy settings provides great options for many different personalities and lifestyles.