The typical PT works under the guidance of a licensed pharmacist in some cases appears to assume the role of the manager of their daily tasks. However, a more brief and standard profile of a PT is a professional who prepares, dispenses, supplies, and takes the responsibility of issuing drugs to patients under the oversight of a licensed pharmacist (Oswald). Therefore the PT is not a standalone career but rather a co-dependent one, implying it professionally and legally falls within the sphere of pharmacy and regulated by the extensive expertise of the licensed pharmacist. As mentioned above the range of responsibilities can be diverse depending on the level of the PT. The responsibilities could be the provision of prescription advice to patients, customizing a cancer drug according to a patient’s needs, and a host of other clinical, managerial and even operation duties (Bureau of Labor Statistics; Health Careers).
Personal Characteristics Needed
Even though anyone with a high school diploma could study and practice the profession, a few key characteristics will be required in order to embody the personality fit for the career. Apart from the mandatory certifications, PTs must exhibit core competencies such as prowess in dealing and communicating with customers, attention to detail, a knack for organization, and scientific and mathematical skills. Other skills include accuracy and methodological trait, ability to understand and adhere to regulations and legal requirements, showing a genuine interest in other people’s health, having the will to work on all people from all walks of life, good at synthesizing complex information to patients, and good IT skills (Health Careers). It is also important that the individual knows when and how to refer a patient to the licensed pharmacist if there be a need.
According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the average instructional time of pharmacy technicians is at least 600 hours spread over 15 weeks minimum and covering at least 286 accredited programs (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Certification is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board for those with a high school diploma of the National Health Career Association for those already trained or have been in practice for a year. Most of the education is offered through hands-on experience with a majority taking place in vocational training schools, community colleges and within hospitals. Classroom training is part of the training program even though it takes a lesser fraction. Some of the areas covered in the training are mastery of pharmaceutical terminologies, records, calculations, techniques and ethics and professionalism. The cost of education ranges around $13000 per year, at least in Wisconsin (Cost Helper Education).
Pharmacy technicians will mostly work on a fulltime basis and not part-time and will be involved in a highly engaging and rapidly changing work setting (Bureau of Labor Statistics). They maybe be called in to attend to issues at short notice and will also most likely be at work over the weekends when patient engagements tends to spike compared to days in the week. There is no travelling since it would be necessary that patients can be attended to when they need the services of the pharmacy technicians. It is logical to say that the career may be stressful. It involves lots of sacrifice that if not well managed with personal activities could easily subtract hours and days from personal time. The different skill levels of pharmacy technicians would therefore dictate to what extent one would be held up at work (Tice 79).
Wages and Benefits
The starting salary of an entry level pharmacy technician would be about $21,350 and go as high as $45,700 in some case, more so where the individual has accumulated experience and furthered their training. However as of May of 2016, the average salary of Pharmacy Technicians in the United States stood at $30,920 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
At the lowest level is the so-called entry-level PT where duties are restricted to non-technical functions such as dispensing, stocking or customer service. At the intermediate level is the PT in charge of such advanced duties as drug customization and planning. The highest level of the PT profession is the third level tasked with such functions as supervisions and managerial services. The third level necessitates certification while the entry and intermediary level may only need registration depending on the regulations of the jurisdiction in question (Tice 79). Therefore depending on one’s skills and experience on the job, PTs could work in hospitals, general merchandize stores, department stores, grocery stores, and even drug stores. There is high demand for PTs more so with the aging population that needs more prescription every passing year and therefore a career in pharmacy technician will prove to be a stable job.
The growing number of PTs worldwide is a testament to their importance in connecting not only pharmacology but also the general profile of professional healthcare. In the United States, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that PTs are the fastest growing segment of the entire health care industry, projected to increase by close to 10% in the decade between 2014 and 2024 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The diverse roles of the PT coupled by their flexibility in occupying different positions depending on the setting render the career to be one of the cornerstones of theorizing, testing, and evaluating evidence-based practice other than nursing.
This is the kind of profession that I would be willing to join and use my skills and traits to change people’s lives. I believe in the principle of relationship-based care which could be achieved be becoming a PT rather than going through extensive training to become a nurse. It is a quicker way of helping people solve their problems and get the best advice from a pharmacist. The profession is right for me more so when more Americans are aging and will increasingly need prescription drugs and most importantly, advice from pharmacy technicians on how best to approach their treatment.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pharmacy Technicians. 17 Dec. 2015, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm#tab-1. Accessed 17 May 2015.
- Cost Helper Education. Pharmacy Technician School Cost. 15 May. 2010. http://education.costhelper.com/pharmacy-technician-school.html. Accessed 18 May 2017.
- Health Careers. Pharmacy Technician. N.d., https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/pharmacy/pharmacy-technician. Accessed 17 May 2015.
- Oswald, Kirsty. “The Rise of the Pharmacy Technician: The Next Steps.” The Pharmaceutical Journal, 22 Jun. 2016, http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/features/the-rise-of-the-pharmacy-technician-the-next-steps/20201326.article. Accessed 17 May 2017.
- Tice, Linwood. “2002 White Paper on Pharmacy Technicians: Needed Changes Can No Longer Wait.” Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, vol. 9, no. 1, 2003, pp. 72-83.