A Complete Guide to Becoming a Mail Order Pharmacy Tech
If you have ever ordered a prescription from a mail order pharmacy, you'll know how easy and convenient it can be. If you have ever considered pharmacy tech as a career, or are already working in the field, you might be wondering just what the pharmacy techs who staff these rather different pharmacies do and what it took for them to get there. If you read on now, you'll find out.
Do Mail Order Pharmacy Techs Need Extra Training?
Usually, at the bare minimum, to work as a pharmacy tech in a mail order pharmacy you will be required to hold state licensure. A handful of states do not require this - among them New York, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia - but the vast majority do and so you should be prepared to obtain it.
This does not necessarily mean that you have to have passed a formal training exam - it will depend on the state you work in if it is legally required or not - but you will find that most mail order pharmacies will favor candidates who have, whether or not they were required to, as it shows a real commitment to the field that employers will find attractive.
It's sometimes confusing to learn that there is more than one national certification for pharmacy techs. The PTCB and ICPT both offer national certification for pharmacy technicians. The PTCB exam is the PTCE (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam). The ICPT exam is the ExCPT (Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians). Both are accepted by most employers, but as it is the older and more established test, some pharmacies favor the PTCE. Either one however will give you the basics you need to work as a mail order pharmacy tech.
Both tests are written tests, offered as multiple choice questions to be answered. You don't have to take special courses in order to pass them - although they can be helpful for some - and many people pass the test simply by preparing for it using the online resources available to them in the form of ebooks, webinars and more. As long as you have the discipline to study it's more than possible to succeed and ace either test this way.
Do You Need Prior Experience to Become a Mail Order Pharmacy Tech?
Although it will vary from employer to employer, most mail order pharmacies do prefer to hire those who already have some experience in a physical pharmacy setting. Working in this rather different environment often calls for employees to work alone more often, and make decisions for themselves without the need to consult with supervisors.
This means that already being experienced in the basics of the pharmacy tech position will be a big help to both employer and employee. However, if you can demonstrate a real willingness to learn, and offer some of the other skills employers are looking for, then you may still be considered even without a great deal of 'real world' experience.
What Does a Mail Order Pharmacy Tech Actually Do?
Almost all of us have been to a standard retail pharmacy and so have at least some idea of what a pharmacy technician in those circumstances do because we've had the chance to watch them. But what does a mail order pharmacy tech do as it is unlikely that they ever come face to face with the patients they are serving?
The answer is a lot more than you might think. Although it varies from company to company you can expect that as a mail order pharmacy tech you'll need to do all the following:
- Take phone orders from physicians, or from patients looking for refills.
- Verify prescriptions, patient information and health insurance coverage
- Bill the correct amounts for the prescription being prepared
- Help assemble the actual prescription, verifying proper dosages and medication counts.
- Ensuring that medication is not outdated
- Help package the prescriptions prior to distribution
- Maintain an accurate inventory within the facility
- Assist callers if they ask for help with their prescription, their health insurance coverage or if they simply have questions about the prescription you'll be preparing for them.
As you can now see, this is not an easy job, but it can be a very rewarding one, and as the mail order pharmacy business is expanding rapidly, it is also one that offers good growth potential and salary as well as excellent job security.
Getting Your First Job as a Mail Order Pharmacy Tech
In addition to determining that you meet their license, educational, legal and experience standards most employers are going to be on the lookout for additional important 'soft skills' when hiring new mail order pharmacy technicians.
Excellent organizational skills are a must. Mislaid or miscounted medications can lead to both financial and legal consequences and every prescription filled has to be 100% accurate and sent out to the correct recipient at the right time.
To demonstrate to the interviewer that you have those skills prepare examples you can offer to prove that you are an organized person, preferably from past employment experiences, even if they are not directly related to pharmacy work.
One very important soft skill that employers look for when hiring new mail order pharmacy techs are great customer service skills. Often both patients and doctors calling in can be difficult to deal with. Doctors are in a hurry, patients may be in pain. Having the ability to remain calm and helpful in these kinds of situations is a real plus.
Are You Ready to Become a Mail Order Pharmacy Tech?
Do you think you have what it takes to be a mail order pharmacy tech now that you know more about what the job entails? If your answer is still yes, then there has probably never been a better time to start working towards that goal as it’s a high demand career right now, and one that offers tons of potential for the future!
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