A Day in the Life of a Pharmacy Technician
If you want to become a pharmacy technician, it’s important to know what daily tasks you will need to perform and the skills that are required for the job. If you have a chance to shadow a pharmacist or get a behind-the-scenes look at how a pharmacy works before starting this new career, take it. Having an idea of what to expect can tell you a lot about whether this new career path will be right for you.
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a pharmacist, but they complete a wide variety of important tasks every day. By doing their work with care, pharmacy technicians allow pharmacy operations to run smoothly and help avoid prescription errors or other safety issues.
Here’s what a day in the life of a pharmacy technician looks like:
Pharmacy Technician Work Setting and Hours
If you’re interested in the pharmaceutical industry and are looking for employment right out of high school, working as a pharmacy technician might be a good entry level position for you. While you can take voluntary Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam to prove your competence as a pharmacy technician, many employers offer on-the-job training for this highly in-demand position.
Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, including pharmacies in drug stores, general merchandise stores, and even hospitals. Their duties vary a little depending on the setting, but many pharmacy technicians perform similar tasks. Most pharmacy technicians work full-time, but it is possible to find part-time employment if you are in school or need something more flexible with fewer hours.
Aside from that, pharmacy technicians can expect to work their shifts during regular pharmacy hours, which may include early morning and afternoons for some pharmacies and later shifts for those with extended hours or 24-hour pharmacies.
Providing Customer Service
As a pharmacy technician, you’re a primary point of contact for customers who need their prescriptions filled in a timely and accurate way. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for:
- Taking patient prescriptions and inputting information into the system
- Asking patients about any changes in important personal information, like address, allergies, and medical condition information
- Answering basic questions
- Processing prescription transactions at the point of sale
For this, pharmacy technicians need to have working knowledge of medical terminology and drug names. They also need good communication skills in dealing with the public, other health care practitioners, and in relaying important information to their supervising pharmacist. It also helps is they enjoy working with people and have a professional attitude at work.
Behind the Counter Work
Aside from taking and dispensing prescriptions, pharmacy technicians also do a lot of important work behind-the-scenes. The work that goes on in-between receiving prescriptions and dispensing filled prescriptions to patients and health care practitioners is very important. Some of the things that pharmacy technicians are responsible for that you don’t usually see include:
- Counting pills
- Preparing medications
- Billing insurance companies and addressing problems that come up
- Taking calls and emails from other health care professionals
- Labeling medications
- Stocking inventory
- Getting pharmacist approval for prescriptions that are ready
All these tasks are essential to the smooth functioning of any pharmacy. Having pharmacy technicians complete these tasks frees up the pharmacists’ time to do more specialized work, like checking that prescriptions are appropriate, looking out for drug or allergy interactions, and counselling patients on how to safely take their medication.
Therefore, it’s so important that pharmacy technicians are good at what they do, have strong math skills, and pay close attention to detail. The pharmacist is always responsible for going a final check of prescriptions before they go to customers, but many errors can be avoided if pharmacy technicians are on-the-ball.
Sometimes errors can start to occur when someone new is being trained, the pharmacy is busy, or pharmacy techs are distracted and overworked. The important thing is to report any issues you see happening, so they can be resolved, and superiors can analyze if pharmacy processes are working properly or need to be improved somehow.
Working in a pharmacy can be very fulfilling for people who have an interest in health care and the pharmaceutical industry. It’s not a job for everyone, though. If you like a fast-paced environment where you’re always learning about new drugs coming out, enjoy working with people, and take pride in your attention to detail, you might thrive as a pharmacy technician.
Depending on where you work and how your pharmacy is run, pharmacy technicians can perform a wide variety of duties in any given day. Generally, you can expect to be taking prescriptions, inputting patient information, counting pills, preparing prescriptions and labels, and completing customer transactions.
If you’re thinking about becoming a pharmacist, taking some time to work in a pharmacy as a pharmacy technician can help you decide if that career path is right for you too. Although pharmacy techs make less money, they don’t need to complete nearly as much education as a pharmacist and have less responsibility placed on them if something goes wrong or mistakes are made.