Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists and their primary function is to dispense prescription medication to patients or health workers. Aside from hospitals and pharmacies, they work in places such as grocery stores and department stores where drugs are sold.
What Industries Do Pharmacy Technicians Work In?
In 2014, there were about 373,000 working pharmacy technicians in the United States. Distribution by industry shows most pharmacy technicians are employed in the following sectors:
* Drug stores and pharmacies 52%
* Hospitals 13%
* General merchandise shops 7%
* Grocery stores 7%
* Department stores -4%
Data also shows these technicians work on their feet for most of the working day with a huge percentage of them working full-time. Quite a number of pharmacies are open 24/7, indicating the likelihood of them working overtime, at nights and on weekends.
Pharmacy technicians typically do the following tasks:
* Collect information they need to fill a prescription. Information is gathered from health workers and customers.
* Determine medication amounts for prescriptions.
* Do inventories. In case of shortage of medications and other supplies, technicians are the ones responsible for reporting to pharmacists.
* Label and pack prescriptions
* Accept payment from medication buyers
* Entertain customers who come asking for help with their insurance claims
* Arrange meetings between pharmacists and customers, if the latter have questions about health matters and medications
* Enter information of patients and customers and prescriptions they have taken into a computer system
* Entertain calls from customers.
Pharmacy technicians are supervised by pharmacists. Its the pharmacists who give the go-signal to dispense drugs to customers, not pharmacy technicians.
In several states, pharmacy technicians are allowed to mix medications. They can also call physicians to get approval for refill of medications. Prescription refill means a prescription that is dispensed for a second time without getting an approval from the doctor. Refills can be done several times.
Technicians can also operate dispensing equipment when filling a prescription. Filling a prescription order means providing the things stated by the physician in a prescription.
The duties of technicians who are working in medical facilities such as hospitals are rather more challenging. Their tasks include preparation of different kinds of medications like those that are administered intravenously, and making rounds among hospital patients and administering drugs to them.
Whats the Job Outlook?
Pharmacy technician employment is expected to grow at a fast rate of 9% over the ten-year period from 2014. Several factors that will result to increased demand for prescription medications have been identified.
* The American population is an aging population. The elderly consume prescription medicines more than the younger people.
* Chronic diseases like diabetes will affect more and more people in all age groups. This will also result in an increase in demand in prescription drugs.
* Pharmaceutical research is also advancing at a high rate. Expect more prescription drugs to be approved for use.
Finally, we anticipate that pharmacy technicians will take on a greater role in the operations of pharmacies as pharmacists spend more and more of their time performing patient care duties. Technicians will have to perform tasks that are performed only by pharmacists in the present setup.