Explore the Many Faces of Pharmacy Technician Training
Enrolling in pharmacy technician training school may be the most obvious way to get your education, but it's not the only way to gain the skills you'll need. There are a lot of avenues to expand your knowledge—if you know where to look. Here are other means to learn your trade.
How it works: Getting an internship is a great way to round out your training. You'll put all those lessons you learned in school to practical use as you experience how a pharmacy runs on a day-to-day basis. Not only that, but you'll have the opportunity to receive hands-on pharmacy tech training from the experienced professionals working with you. Here's how you can get started:
|Check online with popular national drugstore chains to see if they have internships available|
|Call a local pharmacy and ask about opportunities|
|If you're currently enrolled in a pharmacy tech training program, go to your school's career center and find out if they can help you set up an internship|
On-the-Job Pharmacy Technician Training
How it works: The first few months on the job offer an invaluable learning experience for any new pharmacy tech. Training opportunities abound in the real world that will help you continue to develop your skills and knowledge—even after your schooling is complete.
With on-the-job training, you'll work under the supervision of one or more pharmacists. You'll quickly learn how to work with customers, both in person and over the phone. A pharmacist will also teach you how to process prescriptions and help you understand the laws and regulations in your state. Here's a look at other tasks you'll learn on the job:
- How to restock computer-automated machinery
- Maintaining pharmacy records
- Cash register transactions
- Labeling prescriptions
- Taking calls from physicians' offices
- Maintaining pharmacy equipment
- Distribute prescriptions
If you work in a clinic or other inpatient setting, your pharmacy technician training will also include instructions on how to:
Pharmacy technicians are usually tasked with taking inventory of supplies and drugs so you'll spend your first few days learning about the layout of your specific pharmacy. Mastering medical software is also important; you'll need to know how to process payments and interact with insurance companies.
But, one of the biggest lessons that on-the-job training provides is how to effectively—and patiently—work with the public. Many of your customers will be ill, scared and most days, in a hurry. You'll quickly learn tactics which help soothe customers' concerns.
Teamwork is another benefit of on-the-job pharmacy technician training. From splitting up the workload to leaning on each other for support during a busy day, you'll only experience this camaraderie once you're behind the pharmacy counter.
All this is not to say, however, that you should skip formal pharmacy tech training and go straight to work. While this approach does work for some, many employers don't have the resources to spend on in-depth pharmacy technician training for new employees. Your degree will give you a clear advantage when it comes time to look for a job.
How it works: As a working pharmacy technician, one of the best ways to keep up with new developments in the industry is through membership in a professional organization. Sometimes the best pharmacy technician training might come from your peers. Building your professional network is important for many reasons:
- You'll be sure to hear the about the latest news and technology
- You'll make great connections that may come in handy when you're searching for a job
- You'll gain insight and training just from sharing your experiences and hearing about the experiences of other professionals
Continuing Education Courses
How it works: Professional organizations are often a great source of information about upcoming pharmacy tech training sessions. Not only is this helpful for your career, but if you intend to get your pharmacy technician certification, it's a requirement. In order to maintain your certification status you'll need to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years.
Pharmacy Technician Organizations
As you start your pharmacy tech training, become familiar with professional organizations that offer career and education resources. Here are a few organizations that can help you get started:
Pharmacy Technician Training Programs
Many states regulate pharmacy technicians so you may still need to complete formal pharmacy technician training, even with all of the above resources in your back pocket.
The type of training you choose should depend on your education and career goals. For instance, if you're looking for a highly focused curriculum and shorter completion time, a certificate may be your best option.
If you're interested in receiving a liberal arts education in addition to your pharmacy tech classes, an associate's degree may suit you best. The program takes about two years to complete but if you plan to further your education, this option is a solid stepping stone.
Both certificates and associate's degree programs usually require you to complete an externship at a local pharmacy or at an inpatient setting, such as a nursing home. These experiences are typically scheduled at the end of your program once you've completed regular coursework.
During your externship, you'll learn about the daily tasks of a pharmacy technician and gain hands-on experience. Interested in working in, say, a hospital pharmacy? Try to secure an externship in your preferred environment. Not only can you make professional connections, but you'll acquire detailed knowledge about a specific type of pharmacy.
Pharmacy Technician Training: Classes
Once you're enrolled in pharmacy technician training, you'll jump in to a comprehensive curriculum with a heavy focus on pharmacy math and science. If you're earning an associate's degree program, you'll also take English, general psychology and college algebra classes.
Here's a glimpse at the type of classes you might find in pharmacy technician training:
|Pharmacy Law||Learn what laws govern pharmacy technicians, from state regulations to federal mandates.|
|Medical Terminology||Coursework examines word roots, prefixes and suffixes. Students becomes well-versed in the fundamentals of medical vocabulary.|
|Medication Safety||Delve into the procedures and processes that are put in place to prevent medical errors.|
|Pharmacy Calculations||Brush up your math skills for this course. Students learn about the types of calculations used in pharmacies.|
|Dosages and Routes of Administration||Learn how different medications are administered with an overview of measurement techniques.|
|OTC Drugs||Part communication class, part pharmacy class. Students are taught which questions to ask customers and how certain over-the-counter medications can treat illnesses.|
|Pharmacology||This course (or courses) teach students about the types of drugs prescribed for different systems in the body, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal, urinary and cardiovascular.|
|Ethics||Using problem-solving exercises, students learn about ethical issues they may encounter as a pharmacy technician.|
|Infection Control||Learn the necessary skills to protect from infectious diseases, including how to properly prepare sterile intravenous drugs.|
Online Pharmacy Technician Training
Like many other allied health education programs, pharmacy technician training is also available online. Students can benefit from a flexible schedule while still receiving a quality education.
Online pharmacy technician training offers the same curriculum as its on-campus counterpart. The main different? The coursework delivery method.
Instead of sitting in a classroom at a pre-determined time each week, you'll be able to log in and complete your pharmacy tech courses when it fits your schedule. Classes are typically divvied up into modules and you'll complete an exam at the end of each lesson. If you successfully pass the test, you'll be sent the next module.
There are many benefits to this format. In addition to the schedule flexibility, it allows you to learn at your own pace. Having difficulty with pharmacy law? Keep working on it until you master it. Already a whiz at math? Breeze through the pharmacy calculations module. And if you need help from your instructor? They're just a phone call or email away.
Pharmacy Technician Training Accreditation
When you search for the right pharmacy technician training, you're likely on the lookout for a flexible schedule and affordable tuition. Something else to consider? Accreditation.
Without accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, you can't ensure a school is providing you with the skills and education you need to work as a pharmacy tech.
As you begin your search for the right pharmacy technician training, consider all the resources available to you. From on-the-job training to formal education programs, aspiring pharmacy technicians have plenty of options to choose from.