Pharmacy tech

Pharmacy technician is a job title for a pharmacy staff member "who works under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist, and performs many pharmacy-related functions." [1] In most cases, job duties include providing medication and other health care products to patients. Pharmacy technicians often do the routine tasks associated with preparing prescribed medication and providing drugs to patients, and may also do compounding of medications. However, pharmacists check all medications before they go to the patient, and only pharmacists may counsel patients on the proper use of medications.

Training and certification

Most pharmacy technicians have only on-the-job training, but many employers favor those who have completed a formal training and certification process. The largest national certification exam in the United States is given by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Completing this exam earns the technician the professional title "CPhT" (Certified Pharmacy Technician) to follow their name. As of 2002, in the United States, there were no U.S. federal (and few state) laws making it mandatory for all technicians employed to meet this qualifying standard. However, some non-federal jurisdictions do require licensing such as the state of Virginia. Many are required to register or become licensed in most states, and pass a state examination administered by the state board of pharmacy; regardless of whether they pass the national exam by PTCB. Massachusetts requires passing the state pharmacy board exam regardless of PTCB.

Pharmacy technician training programs are offered by the military, some hospitals, proprietary schools, vocational or technical colleges, and community colleges. These prepare the student for a pharmacy technician exam (usually the PTCB exam) and often include labs and an "externship" so the student can gain real-world pharmacy experience.

In the United Kingdom and many other countries, there are accredited programs which pharmacy technicians must complete. In the UK this is composed of an 'on the job' qualification (an NVQ level 3); and a theory based qualification (BTEC) usually completed on day-release at college or by correspondence course. Within the next few years (probably around 2008) "pharmacy technician" will become a protected job title in the UK and only those with both qualifications will be allowed to use this title by law.Job duties

Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations. According to a 2002 United States Department of Labor report, about two-thirds worked in retail pharmacies, both independently owned or part of a drugstore, grocery store or mass retailer chain. An additional 22% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals, while a small portion worked in mail-order or Internet pharmacies, clinics, pharmaceutical wholesalers, and the Federal Government. The mix in the UK is of a similar balance.

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