While a doctor pinpoints correct diagnosis and treatment, the healthcare system would be incomplete without a licensed pharmacist and pharmacy technicians processing insurance claims and identifying and handling medications for patients. Pharmacy Technicians hold a crucial role in the healthcare industry. They’re responsible for assisting Pharmacists, filling and labeling prescriptions, maintaining inventory, giving excellent customer support, and a handful of other things that patients count on them for.
Most aspiring pharmacy technicians realize the importance of their potential career, but not the vast number of job outlooks where they are needed once they complete their education and training. But where do pharmacy technicians work? Let’s take a look at all the various types of pharmacies and work environments they can encounter.
Retail pharmacies are located inside big grocery stores or retail outlets like Walmart, Target, or Kroger. As you may already be able to tell, these pharmacies are operational just as long as the retail stores are open. While some are open 24 hours a day, other retail pharmacies may only be available for a set number of hours daily. Their schedule consists of day, night, and/or weekend shifts so that all technicians have the opportunity to get some flexibility in their scheduling.
Retail Pharmacy Technicians, along with being a friendly face to the customers, may have duties such as:
- Process prescriptions
- Make sure racks and medications are clean and organized
- Ensure inventories are up to date
- Communicate with health insurance companies regarding pending bills and payments
Pharmacy technicians who work at retail pharmacies can work with big name companies, many of whom have a reputation for keeping their employees happy!
To become a Licensed Pharmacy Technician, one needs training, after which they need to pass a national level exam to gain certification and/or licensure. The particular national level exam that needs to be taken depends on the state where one would like to commence their employment officially.
Accordingly, most Pharmacy Technician programs may already prepare their students to work in hospitals. This is because most training programs’ curriculums are structured for mainstream pharmacy technician jobs. Other places to work such as mail order pharmacies or compounding pharmacies are still relatively less in number.
The transition becomes relatively easy for students when they get accepted into mainstream jobs such as this one. Here are some of the duties Technicians working in Hospital Pharmacies are expected to carry out:
- Assemble medications required for testing
- Prepare medications for emergency room patients
- Check prescriptions for long-term patients and prepare accordingly
- Prepare IV solutions and fill syringes when instructed
A hospital is operational 24 hours a day, which is why most medication is prepared in single doses. A Pharmacy Technicians’ schedule is quite flexible, given that there are usually part-time employees and several shifts that take place throughout the day.
Many people are unaware of the existence of compounding pharmacies. This is because not only are they fewer in number, but very few patients need medication from them. For those of you who may not know, compounding pharmacies are responsible for combining, mixing, or modifying ingredients to create a medication customized for a specific patient. While compounding pharmacies aren’t many in number, there are quite a few retail pharmacies that offer compounding services.
There are many reasons why patients may need customized medicine. A patient allergic to a particular component or dye in medication may need to get rid of that irritant in the drug. These compounded drugs are not FDA approved and may require Pharmacy Technicians specialized certification to work with. Technician duties at these pharmacies may include:
- Checking patient’s needs and recommending substitutes
- Reading up on patients’ drug history to verify that there haven’t been any adverse reactions to specific drugs in the past
- Make sure inventory has ingredients and medications for compounding drugs
- Educating clients on how to take and use products of the compounding pharmacy
Pharmacy technicians may need to complete continuing education, go for an extra certification, and get a few different skills up their sleeves to work at compounding pharmacies.
Assisted Living and Nursing Homes
The pharmacies inside assisted living, mental health and nursing homes, and similar hospital pharmacies provide patient care to long-term residents. The difference is that these facilities don’t have emergency departments and labs for testing like hospitals do. This is why these facilities call for fewer emergencies and provide routine to their workers. This is what their day-to-day responsibilities may look like:
- At the start of the day, a Pharmacy Technician prepares prescriptions for residents to be taken before or while having their breakfast.
- Then they prepare prescriptions that need to be taken by residents for the rest of the day.
- Once the doses and prescriptions are prepared, they are handed over to the nurses, who distribute them to patients.
Depending on the size of such facilities for mental health, assisted living, and nursing homes, jobs can vary from part-time to full time. These facilities are open even on holidays and weekends due to the special care residents need daily.
Mail Order Pharmacies
With everything now available at the very tap of a button, medications are no exception. These pharmacies have several dispensing machines that provide a vast range of medications such as pain killers, blood thinners, medication for heart diseases, etc. compared to other pharmacies, the role of a Pharmacy Technician in mail order pharmacies is rather technical. Their duties may include:
- Filling the machines with medications
- Reloading the label papers
- Inputting prescriptions sent via phone or mail into computers
- Making sure machines are working correctly
- Executing basic maintenance checks
Since it takes a while to ship medications to patients, mail order pharmacies cannot process urgent orders. Pharmacy Technicians need to be aware of this, to ensure they provide patients with the appropriate information and customer service.
Enroll in Dorsey College’s Pharmacy Technician Training
You might have not been aware of the vast number of pharmacies in the country before you read this article all the way through. Now that you know of the number of work environments and opportunities that exist on the other side of completing your Pharmacy Technician training and obtaining certification (and/or licensure), what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for a Pharmacy Technician Training Course, check out the program at Dorsey College. Our training program is designed to equip you with the skills necessary to pursue national-level certification; as well as give you a chance to practice those skills in the real world through an externship. Contact Dorsey College today to learn how you can get started with your Pharmacy Technician training!