Have you ever picked up a prescription from Walgreens or Rite Aid and chatted to the person who handed it over to you? Very likely, that person was a pharmacy technician. These individuals are trained healthcare professionals who play an important role in dispensing pharmaceutical treatments and prescription medications.
What a Pharm Tech’s Day Looks Like
Pharm techs work under the supervision of a pharmacist. In their job, they complete duties like the following:
- Collecting and entering customer information into the computer system
- Measuring medication
- Labeling and storing supplies
- Packaging and labeling prescription containers
- Interacting with the public, answering phone calls from customers, and referring to the pharmacist as needed
- Filling prescriptions for other healthcare professionals if working in a hospital pharmacy
- Possibly compounding medicines for a customized prescription (hospital pharmacy)
A career as a pharmacy technician can open up a variety of work pathways for you, including working in a retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, or a “closed-door” pharmacy, such as in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Each one is a little different even though they draw on the same training and skills.
About half of pharm techs worked in retail pharmacies, while another 16% work in state, local, or private hospitals in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Wherever you work, the job will entail the same skills and knowledge about pharmaceuticals, but each setting comes with a few differences.
If you work in a retail setting, like a Walgreens pharmacy, you’ll interact more directly with the public and use your customer care skills. Because some pharmacies are 24-hour settings, you might work nights or weekends, which can offer flexibility.
In a hospital pharmacy, in contrast, your job is to fill prescriptions for other healthcare professionals. That means you’re working more closely with medical staff and providers, and you’ll likely need a greater understanding of medical terminology and medications than you would for a retail pharmacy position. In a “closed-door” pharmacy such as a nursing home or assisted living facility, you’re serving a specific group of patients rather than the general public or other medical professionals.
Helpful Skills to Have
To accurately fill prescriptions and collect patient information, pharmacy techs need to possess good attention to detail. And, because they typically interact directly with the public, a caring manner is important. Some pharmacy patients are elderly and hard of hearing or vision-impaired, so patience with your patients is key.
In a hospital pharmacy, flexibility for handling a range of job duties is helpful. There, you may be assisting healthcare providers determine the best type of medication and dosage for their patients for a procedure in a medical setting like surgery. You might also compound medicines (mix them together) for a customized prescription, deliver medications around the hospital, or ensure the crash carts are supplied.
If you are interested in a career working alongside pharmacists, consider the Fortis pharmacy technician training program at a school campus in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana, and Tennessee. We can help you learn more about the program. Visit our pharmacy programs page on the Fortis website or call us today at 1-855-436-7847!