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How do I Become a Pharmacy Technician?

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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Although the majority of pharmacy technicians receive on-the-job training, many employers prefer that their pharmacy techs have formal training, prior experience, or certification. Technical schools, community colleges, the military, some hospitals, and vocational schools often provide formal training programs to those interested in this particular career field. Formal programs require students to take a variety of courses, including pharmaceutical calculations, pharmaceutical and medical terminology, pharmaceutical techniques, pharmacy record keeping, ethics, and pharmacy law.

In order to become a pharmacy technician, a person must also learn the names of medications, how they are used to treat medical conditions, and proper doses for the medications. A student may also complete an internship in order to gain hands-on experience in a pharmacy. Upon completion of a formal program, pharmacy technician students will receive an associate's degree, certificate, or diploma.

Some states require that all pharmacy technicians are certified. This certification is earned by taking an exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Candidates for the exam must possess a high school diploma or GED.

Candidates must also have no felony convictions within a period of five years. They should never have received any felony convictions related to drugs or pharmacy work. Certified pharmacy techs must renew their certification every two years.

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Pharmacy techs help pharmacists fill and dispense prescriptions to patients. Someone who wishes to become a pharmacy technician may often prepare the medication, count pills, and label medication bottles. When a person decides to become a pharmacy technician, he or she may also perform cashier work, answer the phones, and stock the shelves.

At times, pharmacy techs may receive electronically sent prescriptions from the doctor's office. They must all always verify that the information listed on the prescription is correct. Before dispensing the medication to the patient, a pharmacy tech must have his or her work checked by the pharmacist in order to ensure accuracy. Some pharmacy techs may even prepare insurance claim forms.

Pharmacy technicians who work inside nursing homes and hospitals may also be responsible for reading patient charts and preparing medicine before having the medicine checked by the pharmacist. Once the pharmacist approves the work performed by the tech, the pharmacy technician can give the medication to the patient. The technician then adds information about the medicine to the patient's chart.

Since pharmacy technicians work in retail settings, hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities, they must be prepared to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Some facilities are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so a technician may be scheduled to work unusual hours. Anyone who wants to become a pharmacy technician will work closely with pharmacists, helping them to serve patients' medication needs.

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