What Does a Hospital Pharmacy Technician Do?

HealthcareNovember 02, 2023

What Does a Hospital Pharmacy Tech Do?

Access to medication is an integral part of comprehensive patient care. What a hospital pharmacy technician does — assisting in patient education, filling prescriptions, completing administrative duties, and working in conjunction with pharmacists and other medical professionals — helps the day-to-day operations of medical facilities run smoothly.

By completing a medical technology training program in pharmacy practice, graduates can gain the foundational knowledge and practical skills they need to begin a meaningful career as a pharmacy tech. 

Hospital Pharmacy Tech Job Description

Medical professionals working in hospitals encounter patients with various healthcare concerns. Treating patients with a wide range of illnesses or medical conditions can require an equally broad spectrum of medications and prescriptions, along with skilled practitioners who know how to dispense and administer them. 

Hospital pharmacy techs assist licensed pharmacists by filling prescriptions, managing pharmacy administrative duties, and communicating with patients and other health professionals. 

Hospital Pharmacy Tech Work Environments            

When considering a career as a pharmacy technician, graduates have the choice to work in various settings, including a retail pharmacy; a hospital pharmacy; or a “closed-door” pharmacy, such as in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. 

Some of the duties in these different settings overlap, but working in a hospital pharmacy is a bit different from working in other pharmacies. As a hospital pharmacy technician, you’re working closely with the pharmacist to ensure that the hospital pharmacy runs smoothly. 

While many pharmacy technicians working in retail or closed-door facilities may find themselves providing long-term prescriptions to their patients, it’s not uncommon for patient hospital stays to be brief. As a result, hospital pharmacy techs often handle a wider range of prescriptions, including intravenous medications, as they manage cases that only require short-term treatments.  

Hospital Pharmacy Tech Duties        

What hospital pharmacy technicians do helps ensure that hospital pharmacies are able to run efficiently and that licensed pharmacists have the support and assistance they need to provide quality care to their patients. On a day-to-day basis, these duties can include the following:

  • Preparing drugs and filling prescriptions
  • Taking inventory and ordering supplies
  • Filling out hospital or insurance paperwork
  • Keeping and updating patient records
  • Restocking medical carts for nurses and doctors
  • Distributing medications to various hospital departments or patients
  • Coordinating patient consultations on medication uses and contraindications 

Pharmacy technicians have varying levels of responsibility depending on state regulations. Under pharmacist supervision, they may have drug compounding or mixing responsibilities. The duties of a hospital pharmacy technician can also change depending on their level of education and workplace experience, with those who’ve completed a more extensive education taking on a more comprehensive set of responsibilities. Below are some of those responsibilities. 

Filling Prescriptions for Healthcare Providers

Unlike a retail pharmacy, where pharmacy techs interact directly with customers, hospital pharmacy techs fill prescriptions for other healthcare professionals. The hospital pharmacy tech’s role is to supply the hospital’s medical providers with medications. That includes working more closely with medical staff and providers, requiring a greater understanding of medical terminology and medications than is typical for a retail pharmacy position.

What a hospital pharmacy tech does involves helping healthcare providers determine the best type of medication and dosage for their patients for a procedure in a medical setting. For example, filling a short-term prescription for a patient going into surgery or for recovery after they come out of surgery.

Compounding Medicines

Hospital pharmacy technicians may also compound drugs. That means mixing together one or more drugs, according to the doctor’s instructions, to customize a prescription for a patient. For example, they may have an allergy to a specific medication, so they may need an alternative prescription. Pharmacy technicians weigh drugs and mix them together in appropriate proportions.

Other Duties              

Although a hospital pharmacy technician’s primary duty is filling prescriptions, they may also handle tasks like delivering medications to different hospital areas, such as nurses’ stations, operating rooms, or emergency departments; making sure that crash carts are adequately supplied; and managing the inventory in dispensing machines.

Hospital pharmacy techs also obtain medicines from pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers. That includes contacting the companies for supplies, making sure that medications are stored properly, and fulfilling hospital lab and clinic requests for medications. 

<h2>Hospital Pharmacy Tech Education Requirements</h2> 

Pharmacy technicians typically enter the workforce by completing a vocational training program, which can take less than a year to complete and result in a pharmacy tech diploma or certificate. Some pharmacy techs move into their role by gaining on-the-job training, while others may earn an associate degree.

Requirements for pharmacy tech registration or licensure vary by state, with some states requiring registration and some requiring licensure. A handful of states require neither. Some states also require pharmacy technicians to pursue certification through board examinations offered by organizations such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).  

Job Outlook for Hospital Pharmacy Technicians

Skilled healthcare professionals are in demand nationwide. From doctors and nurses to pharmacists and pharmacy techs, patients require the assistance of dedicated medical professionals to help them access the care they need. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 6% growth in employment of pharmacy technicians between 2022 and 2032. Level of education and work experience can impact the demand for pharmacy techs in a hospital setting. By equipping themselves with a well-rounded educational foundation, graduates have the opportunity to improve their employment prospects and earnings potential. 

Make a Positive Impact in Patient Care as a Hospital Pharmacy Tech

What a hospital pharmacy tech does can be both challenging and enriching, changing daily as they help pharmacists and other medical professionals treat a multitude of illnesses and issues. A great way for graduates to gain a foothold in the medical field, the hospital pharmacy technician role provides valuable experience in both administrative and patient-facing duties. 

By completing a pharmacy tech diploma program with Fortis, future hospital pharmacy technicians can build the practical skills they need to begin building their careers. Focused on providing students with a well-rounded foundation, the programs at Fortis provide a combination of hands-on experience and classroom instruction. Discover how you can make a difference as a hospital pharmacy tech today.

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Houston Chronicle, “How to Become a Pharmacy Technician in a Hospital”
Indeed, “Pharmacy Technician in a Hospital vs. Retail (Salary and Duties)”
Indeed, “What Does a Pharmacist Technician Do (and How to Become One)”
Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, State Regulations and Map 
Pharmacy Times, “What Does a Hospital Pharmacy Technician Do?”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pharmacy Technicians