Program Overview

Pharmacy Technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, and perform many important pharmacy-related functions. They assist pharmacists in executing multiple tasks, most notably filling prescriptions and performing various customer service assignments. Another common assignment includes fielding certain kinds of questions regarding health concerns and prescriptions. In addition, many pharmacy technicians deal with third party and doctors' offices in resolving issues related to patients' private insurance plans and/or government agency regulations.

While only licensed pharmacists check all medications before going to the patient, and only pharmacists may counsel patients on the proper use of medications, pharmacy technicians often do the routine tasks associated with preparing prescribed medication and providing drugs to patients. They may also be assigned to compounding medications; dealing with verbal prescriptions and doctor calls; and handling expense and medication orders, returns and expired credits as well as other areas of pharmacy management. In a hospital pharmacy especially, pharmacy technicians may be asked to oversee entire aspects of operational management.

But at the core, filling prescriptions is the primary duty of most pharmacy technicians. Once an order is administered, they must make sure that the prescription date is correct. They then must calculate, measure, weigh, mix, and pour the patient's medication. Next they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. The technician also has the responsibility of keeping up with patient's profiles and preparing patient insurance documents.

When there is time, the pharmacy technician may be asked to perform more clerical duties such as data entry, stocking items on shelves, handling the cash register and answering telephone calls. Also, in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities, technicians have added responsibilities, including preparing sterile solutions and delivering medications to nurses or physicians.

In the past years, pharmacy techs received training on the job, but today's employers are now requiring technicians to have more formalized professional training to understand the ever increasing complex pharmaceutical business. Such technical training results in a diploma, a certificate or a degree, but in virtually all cases, includes study of the following subject areas:

  • Medical and pharmaceutical terminology
  • Pharmaceutical calculations and basic mathematics
  • Pharmacy recordkeeping
  • Study of human diseases
  • Retail and hospital pharmacy rules and techniques
  • Drug categories, actions, uses, doses
  • Pharmacy ethics and laws
  • Customer service and communication skills
  • Spelling, reading

There is no national training standard for pharmacy technicians, but employers favor applicants who have formal training, certification, or previous experience. In some states, pharmacy technicians must be registered with the state board of pharmacy. Eligibility requirements vary, but in these states, applicants must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and pay an application fee.

Finally, let's not forget that many individuals choose the option of furthering their education down the road by attending pharmacy school to become a licensed pharmacist in their own right. For this reason, pharmacy technician training and experience can be viewed as a gateway into the challenging and highly regarded medical field.

If you have questions regarding the Online Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program, go to http://thomasedisonsc.theknowledgebase.org/. Then select this program and either click "Contact" for the relevant Academic Advisor, or "Ask a Question" to submit your query electronically.