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Are Pharmacy Technician’s In Demand?

pharmacy technician automationYes and no! I typically frown upon that answer, so let me explain. There is a demand for trained and specialized pharmacy technicians. I know, I know, chances are you are either just starting out or trying to gain experience. Well, here is the good news . . . As experienced technicians specialize and move into more advanced roles, they are vacating positions that now create opportunity for newer pharmacy technicians to enter the work force.

We discuss this to some degree in the eBook, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into this one area as I still receive questions about it. I continue to see the need for pharmacy and healthcare as a whole to work smarter and “do more with less.” I am sure this is common to many industries, but I know healthcare is definitely feeling the financial pressures as well. Healthcare is a hot topic in the news media, especially as Obamacare continues to advance. The awareness of healthcare cost due to the public transparency of Medicare and Medicaid, and the rate that healthcare costs are increasing, is also a common theme in the news. Because of this, healthcare organizations are being targeted by the government and insurance companies to provide care at a lower cost. Well, this is a big impact on pharmacy, and here is why.

Pharmacy has an interesting dynamic where pharmacists income has risen so rapidly over the last 15 years that they are pricing them out of jobs. Many jobs such as pharmacy IT manager, pharmacy buyer, pharmacy database manager, etc. are all being viewed as positions in which a pharmacist would not be “practicing at the top of their pay scale,” and therefore an inefficient use of healthcare resources. If this is the case, then who is to do these jobs? Specialized pharmacy technicians, because pharmacy technicians know the drugs, know how the pharmacy systems operate and are the perfect candidates for these positions.

In some cases, a bachelor’s degree with pharmacy technician experience can land you a nice paying position in between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist. I am seeing this in many areas in healthcare systems and pharmacy/healthcare IT related companies. Pharmacy is being increasingly more automated and the need for pharmacy technicians to maintain and operate these systems will increase.

As automation increases, we are seeing a decrease in pharmacists in the work force, but pharmacy technicians as a whole are not being impacted as much. One reason is ROI or return on investment. Pharmacy automation and IT is expensive. If efficiency is the benefit to the new technology, then the cost needs to be removed from somewhere. Well, is it easier to justify cost savings with a $35-$40K.year pharmacy technician or a $105K pharmacist? As someone that has had to justify technology expense, I can tell you that reducing a pharmacist gets you a lot of dollars saved.

Take home message: Health-systems like hospitals and larger chain retails are great places to get your foot in the door. Once you do, search out IT related projects when you have time. Once you can build that niche of experience into your resume, doors will be opened to you, and you will only need to walk through!

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