What do Pharmacy Technicians do?
Job descriptions for pharmacy technicians and assistants.
Have you been considering a career in healthcare? It is an ever-growing industry and many people exploring the idea quickly become curious about pharmacy. So, I've asked my good friend Sean Parsons to explain what pharmacy technicians do, and the various environments they work in. Enjoy !
of Society Do
by Sean E. Parsons, CPhT
Today, pharmacy technicians work
in a variety of settings and perform numerous jobs, making them a vital
part of the healthcare team.
They work in community pharmacies (pharmacy
chains and independents), hospitals, nuclear pharmacy, health
insurance companies, compounding pharmacies, home-infusion companies, long-term
care facilities, clinics, specialty pharmacies working with high priced drugs
for rare diseases, investigational drug services, the various branches of the
pharmacoinformatics for technology companies, and even
in education at technical schools and colleges.
The responsibilities of
pharmacy techs range a great deal depending on the practice setting, but
they may include:
- Prescription intake including e-prescribing, faxes, and
patients walking in with their prescription in hand
- Gathering patient data including drug and disease
information, name, address and contact information, allergy information,
and insurance information
- Prescription translation because we all love bad
hand-writing, Greek words, and Latin abbreviations
- Performing necessary calculations ranging from days'
supply and adjusting refills/short-fills to verifying the proper dosage of
chemotherapy drugs and other complex treatment regimens
- Data entry including information about the patient, the
prescriber, the third-party payor, prescription information, and drug
- Filling prescriptions, including labeling and
packaging the medication
- Dispensing the filled prescription and collect
- Filing prescription forms in an appropriate manner to
allow for easy retrieval during audits
- Inventory management including purchasing, rotating
stock, and managing short-dated/expired medications
- Non-sterile compounding including preparing oral
medications (suspensions, solutions, tablets, capsules, lozenges, oral
sprays, etc.), topical medications (powders, ointments, creams, and gels),
and otic preparations
- Preparing sterile products ranging from antibiotics, to
ionotropic therapy, to parenteral nutrition which may have over 20
ingredients that must be kept sterile during preparation
- Mixing hazardous drugs to prepare chemotherapy for
- working with radiopharmaceuticals ranging from
preparing stress tests to tagging white blood cells to help find
- Medication delivery ranging from various hospital
units, such as nursing units and operating rooms, to patient homes and
- Cart-fill/Cassette exchange which typically provide
patients with a 24 hour supply of medication in hospitals and may be as
long as once a month in a nursing home
- Work with automation including filling
automated dispensing cabinets, using pneumatic tube systems, and automated
- Integrate and maintain databases and pharmacy
- Working directly for insurance companies assessing
non-formulary requests and providing patient services
- Gathering lab work data and scheduling appointments to
aid in the provision of patient counseling, medication therapy management,
- Training staff or even teaching at a technical school
or community college
Pharmacy is a growing field.
The opportunity to work as a
pharmacy technician isn't just exciting because of what you can do today. It's a growing industry with new opportunities just over the horizon.
In my own career as a pharmacy technician, I've come a long
ways since I first passed the certification exam in 1995 (the first
year it was offered). I've done everything from processing orders, mixing IV's
and chemotherapy, to rounding in the operating room during organ transplants,
preparing investigational drugs to treat microbial resistant bacteria, and I've
run multi-million dollar robots. I have taught classes, developed curriculum,
written textbooks, developed pharmacy specific websites, and currently writing my own software and starting my own non-profit pharmacy to
help the uninsured and under-insured. This is not the end of my journey, but
just an interesting pause along the way for whatever else I will get to achieve
in this field.
About the author:
Sean Parsons, CPhT has 12 years of experience in a
hospital setting, and eight years of experience as an instructor.
Currently, he teaches at Bidwell Training Center, Inc., owns
Parsons Printing Press, is the president of Lost and Found
Pharmacy, Inc. and has published a PTCE Certification Exam Review, which is updated for the NEW format.
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