A career as a pharmacy technician may lead to opportunities to work in a variety of healthcare settings and facilities. After passing the certification exam administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, you can begin your search to find a rewarding career in a wide range of pharmacy environments. Pharmacy technicians play an important role in the field of medicine. They prepare prescription drugs and dispense them to patients. They also perform administrative duties such as record keeping and dealing directly with insurance companies. Three of the most common pharmacy types for this career field include hospitals, retail pharmacies and drug stores. Here are some of the differences between these environments.
Being employed by a hospital pharmacy may be a considerably different experience compared to a traditional pharmacy setting. An inpatient facility typically has patients with more complicated medical conditions who may be prescribed multiple medications for treatment.1 Working as a hospital pharmacy technician, you may face various aspects of healthcare services such as pain therapy, neonatal care and geriatrics. Additionally, the role may oversee purchasing decisions for prescriptions, prepare intravenous medication and manage the administration of drugs. You might prepare a one-day supply of medication for each patient and prepare prescriptions for medications that aren't commercially available, such as maximum strength painkillers. In this environment, you’ll probably work directly with nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals.
Many supermarkets provide a pharmacy inside their facility for convenience. This role would likely have you assisting in measuring, mixing and labeling dosages–many of whom may be waiting customers. This retail position is more customer focused compared to a hospital setting. Customers are often in a hurry, making a spontaneous trip to the pharmacy as they handle their grocery shopping. Being sensitive to a customer’s tight shopping schedule is an important part of customer service in a retail pharmacy.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 53 percent of pharmacy technicians work in traditional drug stores or pharmacies. 2 Working as a pharmacy technician in this environment may mean standing on your feet all day long. Additionally, these facilities may be open 24 hours. It's possible you may wind up working late at night and on weekends. This position may also require you to help customers find products on an aisle outside of the pharmacy department.
If any of these career environments sound appealing to you, maybe it’s time to consider going to school to earn a diploma or degree as a pharmacy technician. Programs are available both online and on campus. Accelerated programs for a diploma could be as short as 11 months. Registration is required to work in Florida, so research the requirements for your state as well. Many employers require graduates to pass the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. Click here to learn more about training to become a pharmacy technician.