As a pharmacy technician, your exact day-to-day duties will vary depending on your place of work.
Pharm techs working in retail settings will often have more customer service responsibilities than those working in compounding pharmacies, who will instead focus more on medication preparation. If you’re employed in a care home or hospital, you’ll likely have more interaction with patients and provide more hands-on care than those in retail pharmacies.
However, wherever you're working as a pharmacy technician, there are a set of pharmacy technician duties that apply to all of those in the profession.
In this guide, we’ll cover what you can expect in terms of your pharmacy technician responsibilities and daily activities once you start working.
Soft Skills: Working with People
Working with people is a large part of being a pharmacy technician; those best suited to the role will find interacting with patients and customers extremely rewarding.
Customer service—in its most traditional sense—is required of pharm techs working in retail pharmacies. This means fielding customer inquiries, processing purchases of medications and other goods, and generally keeping customers satisfied.
Pharm techs working closely with patients in settings such as hospitals and care homes will work with people in a more hands-on way. This requires high levels of soft skills such as compassion and patience.
Medication Preparation and Processing
As you would expect, a huge part of pharmacy tech duty surrounds the preparation and processing of medications. As a pharmacy technician, it’s your job to accurately fill prescriptions and present them to patients, playing a significant role on their road to recovery.
Prescriptions can be received in a number of ways, including a traditional written prescription or an electronic prescription sent directly from the relevant doctor’s practice. As a pharm tech, it's part of your role to receive and review the prescriptions in order to fill them.
Helping to confirm prescriptions is a vital part of your responsibilities as a pharm tech. At this stage of the process, you’re helping the pharmacist verify that the prescription is correct. This ensures that the doctor hasn’t made a mistake when filling out the prescription, from the type of medication to the dosage.
Important questions to consider include
- Is this a new prescription or a refill?
- Is what's written on the label reasonable for the patient?
- Does this prescription seem normal?
Obtaining Approval from the Pharmacist
As a pharmacy technician, almost everything you do requires approval from the pharmacist. When dealing with medications, it’s essential that the pharmacist give the prescription the green light before you dispense the medication.
When dispensing medication, you may need to count out a certain number of pills, or you'll use an automated machine that doles out the desired medication at the touch of a button. You’ll also input the data into a computer and print out a label for the bottle. It will be complete with the patient’s name, address, condition, doctor’s information, warnings, and directions on how and when to take the medication.
Admin is a large part of your pharmacy technician duty and responsibilities. It may not always seem like the most exciting task, but it’s one that is key to the smooth running of your pharmacy. For this reason, pharm techs must be well organized and good record keepers.
Stocking Supplies and Medication
Stocking supplies and medication is one of the main pharmacy tech duties. You’ll take stock of the medicinal inventory and alert the pharmacist of any potential shortages. This includes receiving and storing incoming medications, verifying the quantities received against invoices, and checking for outdated medications within the inventory.
It’s essential to keep track of inventory returns too, as these can affect your stocktaking and confuse the numbers if not recorded.
Submitting Insurance Claims
Pharmacy technicians are commonly required to help patients with their insurance claims. This means you’ll need to be knowledgeable about the different insurance billing procedures associated with prescriptions.
Continued Education: Learning New Medications
Each day, researchers are working on new, advanced medicine that may eventually make its way into the pharmacy. It’s vital that pharm techs keep up to date with developments in the pharmaceutical industry in order to provide the best service to customers and patients.
Furthermore, this continued education will be required for the renewal of their PTCB pharmacy technician license— a process you need to go through every two years.
As a pharmacy technician, you may have morning meetings where the lead pharmacist discusses new medications to the marketplace. This will help you to stay on top of new developments, but it’s worth doing your own research, in addition, to ensure that you remain up to date on the industry.
Conclusion: You’ll Be Busy
As you can see from the duties listed above, there’s never a quiet moment in the day of a pharmacy technician. This is because pharmacy techs are absolutely vital when it comes to keeping a pharmacy running.
From providing high levels of customer service and caring for patients to stock-taking and dispensing, pharm techs have to be able to do it all. Fortunately, the pharmacist will be with you every step of the way, helping you to do the best job you can, and keeping you up to date with any industry changes.
If you’re ready to take the first step on your journey to becoming a qualified pharm tech, UMA offers a Health Sciences – Pharmacy Technician associate degree designed to teach the required skills and knowledge for entry-level roles, and prepare you for your certification exam. The program can be completed online and includes an on-site externship to help you gain experience in a real-world setting. Contact us today to find out more.