Pharmacy Technician HQ Update – Drama, Pharmacy Technician Training, ASHP, and Updates
We are in the Thanksgiving season, and I would like to start this post with a thought. With all the stress of work, or finding work, school, kids, parents, health (or lack thereof); it is too easy to get caught up in life that we forget what is important. Make time [continue reading…]
How much does a Pharmacy Technician make?
We still get this question pretty regularly, and thought I had better give the question of pharmacy technician pay its own article. The information from this article comes from my pharmacy management experience, work experience, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The one caveat I will give you up front is that [continue reading…]
Updates and some in sight from a current pharmacy technician student.
Before we get to our guest writer, I want to thank all of the visitors and members of Pharmacy Technician HQ. I appreciate all of the questions and positive feedback. I have not quite hit my [continue reading…]
Pharmacy Technician Questions, Answers, and Feedback
It has been a few months since we recapped some of the pharmacy technician training and certification questions and answers we have received. Here are some of the ones I think will be valuable: [continue reading…]
The August update for Pharmacy Technician HQ
We focus a lot on careers and jobs at Pharmacy Technician HQ. I honestly feel that we need to work hard and do the best we can at work. Not because that is our ultimate goal, rather it affords us opportunities to feel good about what we do AND provide a means to [continue reading…]
Happy 4th of July!!!
We are half way though 2012 and I cannot believe it! I hope you are doing well and if you are here, I hope I am being of service to you. A quick update on my doings: I am still the regional pharmacy director for my health-system. For my 400 bed hospital, I recently turned over my pharmacy operations manager and am pulling double duty. Fortunately my new operations manager starts next Monday. So it has been a little busier than normal. We are hiring a couple new pharmacy technicians and are interviewing tomorrow. If I learn anything you should not do in an interview (it seems like I often do), I promise to share.
Career Step training program update for July: For Utah people, Career Step is the first online training program approved in Utah. I thought that was pretty cool since Utah is traditionally a campus based only approval state. I believe the externship provided with Career Step helped seal the deal (and the excellent level of the modules, which I attribute heavily to the awesome pharmacist review). For July they are also offering 10% off their tuition (which is $1995). You can learn more on the Career Step page.
The PTCB Practice Quiz: Yes, I know it was only 4 questions, but I did add another 6 for a total of 10 questions. For the record, I put a lot of thought into the questions and make sure when you choose a wrong question, that you receive information why it is wrong so you can learn. I am planning to get this up to 25 by the end of the month and 50 by the end of August (it is called incremental progress). If you haven’t tried the quiz yet, it is under the certification tab at the top, or click here.
New School links: Pharmacy Technician HQ has partnered with a school listing company to provide targeted programs based on your geographical location. You can use the search feature in the right column to see schools around your zip code, or go to your state page for schools in your state.
In closing, school is over for the summer, but now is a good time to get a jump on your pharmacy technician training. Please let me know how I can help by leaving a comment on this page or using the contact tab above. Aloha, -Rob
Pharmacy Technician Legislation and ASHP Policy Updates from ASHP Summer Meeting
I am currently at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) annual summer meeting. I am here as a state delegate for my state ASHP affiliate. It has been great to here and participate in the ASHP policy process and hear what is going on across the country regarding pharmacy technician legislation.
The first big thing I want to focus on is the ASHP policy statements. ASHP will be actively working with state and federal legislation to get all states to license their pharmacy technicians. As part of this, they are recommending that ASHP approved training programs and national certification through the PTCB be part of the licensing process. No discussion on externship/practical experience, but if you are a reader of this blog, you know my stance on externship (just in case you are not, it is the holy grail for getting a job – providing you do a great work during your externship).
What does this mean for you? Get in now. Many states only require national certification or less, when the rest of the states do go to licensing their technicians, current pharmacy technicians will likely be grandfathered in (you want this). However, you will need to compete against these newer pharmacy technicians as they complete training, so make sure you have some solid training and PTCB national certification so you can be competitive (you will have the experience advantage at this point, but you want the credentials as well, I look at this when I hire).
As for legislation, we heard from California that tech-check-tech took 10 years, but they have it approved. I have also met some pharmacy technicians at the conference. I think it is great that we have pharmacy technicians stepping up their involvement and are participating at a higher level. I have recommended it in relation to beefing up your resume, but let me state it again. Participating in your state ASHP or APhA affiliate organizations is a great way to network and meet pharmacy leaders, and it also engages you in the profession and your desire to do more and be better. We have many pharmacists participating in pharmacy organizations, but not enough pharmacy technicians. In other words, it is wide open, so take advantage.
Another reason to get involved is to protect the pharmacy technician career field. I am doing what I can, but I am a pharmacist. We need help from the pharmacy technician workforce, we need your perspective. I realize I may be putting the cart before the horse and that many of you reading are just looking into getting into the career field, but I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to tell you later. So once again, get into the profession and become active in protecting and advancing it. It will make your job/career more satisfying and even if you change careers later, the experience you gain and relationships you build will serve you well. I’ll see you on the front line my friends.
Discussion on a news article stating our lack of consistency in pharmacy technician training
I was perusing through some pharmacy news about pharmacy errors and found an article from a couple of years ago about a bad error made by a pharmacy technician. The error was related to simply entering the wrong dose of a medication in the system (10 mg versus the prescribed 1 mg of a blood thinner, the article does not say, but this is most likely warfarin). The pharmacist, who is ultimately responsible, did not catch the error. Walgreen’s had to pay $25.8 million in a settlement since the patient had a debilitating stroke as a result. What I found interesting is that the article by ABC news focused on the fact that the pharmacy technician was a teenager and had no more training than a fast food employee.
From my perspective, there are positives and negatives to this article. Some negatives are that they focused on the technician when the pharmacist is the responsible person, the second is that none of the safety features in place in this store were able to prevent the error. I believe that pharmacies have gotten better at catching errors, but they can still happen. I also feel very bad for the pharmacy technician. She lived in a state that did not require much at the time to become a pharmacy technician. The positives are the fact that it was brought to light that we have so much inconsistency in state by state requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician. This happened in the state of Florida, in 2011 the state increased it’s requirements to become a pharmacy technician. This included ASHP approved pharmacy technician training courses.
What does this mean for you? Well, this article is 2 years old. But, many states still require next to nothing to become a pharmacy technician. Don’t take the chance by doing next to nothing. At minimum, get nationally certified. To do this requires some studying that will provide you with some level of understanding and training. Ideally, find a training program that fits your budget and go through the course. If possible, try and complete an externship. It will provide you a nice training environment where you are an extra person and you can do things slower and learn from a seasoned pharmacy technician and pharmacist.
I worried a little about sharing this article. I thought it might scare some people. As a pharmacy director, I want you to have some degree of fear. Taking care of patients is a serious job that requires a level of professionalism and attention to your job that you do not need in a fast food restaurant. If you do not gain that healthy level of respect, then you could cause an error that results in harming a patient.
Recent Q&A by email worth Sharing
Here is a recent question I received that had some good discussion: Hello Rob, I live in CA and I was wondering what you think the outlook is for pharmacy tech. I hear that the outlook is good but when I look at the job boards, I see nothing in my area at all. I am thinking of going to school for pharmacy tech or dental assistant. I am having a tough time deciding. On my resume I have prior experience about 6 years ago being an assistant manager for two retail stores and I also have waitress experience, will that help me get a job at all? In order to pay bills, I am hoping to get around 14-15 an hour when I finish school. Do you think that is possible? I am doing the schooling through a regional occupational program through the city (R.O.P) and it is accredited. I think this will be a better option then going to a community college because they actually help you get a job. They help with your resume and that sort of stuff. I will also have my Associate’s of science from the local community college by the time I am done with the schooling. The only other deciding factor is that I do have a medical condition. I am wondering about working late hours as a pharmacy tech, I don’t think I could do it. I think it would be too hard on my body. Please help and thank you for your opinion!
Answer: Prior experience does help you get a job, especially when it is in management. At least I like to believe that the person will be a better employee having been in charge of employees in the past. How much your employer will give you for experience pay based on that is a little less standard. My company only gives experience for very related positions, in this case pharmacy experience. For the $14-15/hour, it is possible but not likely. At my hospital pharmacy you could get there in 6 months, but it really depends on your companies set up. My techs start at about $11.25/hr. As soon as they are hired they can take the tech Level I exam and if they pass they get a 10% pay increase. They can then study for the Tech Level II exam, and if they pass they get another 10% raise. So a new tech could be at $13.61 in about 6 months. Annual increases have typically been 3%, so this person would be at $14.02 in about a year (depends when in the year they start relative to raises.
As for the medical condition. You do need to take care of yourself, but the better paying jobs are in hospital. Some retail positions can pay well, but typically when you get into supervisor duties or lead tech duties. However, retail pharmacies have better hours (except for your 24 hour ones of course). I do think hospital pharmacy will be less stress on you compared to retail. In the end, you need to make this decision on what is best for you.
For jobs, have you tried bestjobsearchwebsite.com? If you search for pharmacy technician and your zip-code, you should get a pretty good list of jobs near you. If you do not get much, then you may live in a saturated job market.
Response: Thank you so much for your advice, that helped a lot! I looked at the job board you gave me and saw a lot more jobs then monster.com. I decided I am going to do the pharmacy tech program and still continue some classes at the local JC. Thank you for you help again!
Here is another question I recently received: I reside in Georgia and am trying to become a pharmacy technician. I do not know whether or not I want to continue afterwards to become a pharmacist, though. Isn’t it true to become pharmacy technician in Georgia all you need is a certification? I thought it would be smart to enroll in a school so I could do an externship to get some practice. Knowing this information, do you think I should I enroll in a certification program or a degree program?
Also, if I decide to move out of Georgia how easy will it be to transfer?
Answer: You are right, national certification is sufficient for Georgia. If you do move to a state that requires formal training, it is likely that formal training you complete in Georgia will not be on their approved list, so I would say to just get your PTCB. If you struggle landing a job, then I would consider volunteering to gain some experience. If you do want to complete formal training and do an externship, Career Step is a pretty good option right now with their externship program and online course you can get it done in a few months if you hit it hard. You can learn more about Career Step on the Career Step page.
Reply: Thank you for your feedback. Would you recommend making pharmacy technology a career?
Reply Answer: That is a tough question. It really depends on what you are up for. If you know you do not want to go to college (or cannot go due to circumstances, and there are many) for a bachelors degree or higher, then yes I think it provides good opportunity for career minded technicians. If you are game to go to college, then I would consider something with more pay potential and in an area you like. If you are going to do it as a career, I do recommend trying to get into a large hospital or health-system that will offer many higher level job opportunities. Best of luck,
Career Step recently approved in Utah
I recently spoke with one of the representatives at Career Step. They let me know that the externship program is fully operational. In addition, they were able to go to the Utah Board of Pharmacy in February and ask for approval for the pharmacy technician program. This means that the Utah folks can now complete their training online and then finish the externship at a pharmacy and become licensed in Utah. This is a pretty good accomplishment and provides for better educational opportunity in a fairly strict state. Next steps for them . . . get ASHP approval and they will be set, although from working on my thesis, this will be challenge. Best of luck.