The following are the most frequently asked questions about the Pharmacy Technology program.
What is a Pharmacy Technician?
Pharmacy technicians are trained professionals who are crucial to the process of ensuring safe and accurate dispensing of prescription medications. Under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, they perform a wide variety of duties which vary depending upon the setting in which they work.
In general, these responsibilities may include:
- receiving prescriptions and communicating with patients
- accurately selecting the appropriate medication ordered
- counting, measuring, pouring, and mixing medications
- computer processing of patient and prescription information
- ordering, receiving, and managing drug inventory
- filing insurance claims for prescription drug coverage
More specialized responsibilities may also include:
- compounding and preparing sterile IV infusions
- market and clinical research
- interviewing patients about their medications
- drug packaging and labeling
- information services support
- medication replenishment in automated dispensing machines
- non-licensed pharmacy management activities
- pharmacy-associated administrative duties
Where do Pharmacy Technicians work?
Pharmacy Technicians are most visible in retail pharmacies located in drug, grocery, and discount stores. However, Pharmacy Technicians are also employed in specialty pharmacies, hospitals, physician practices, home health care agencies, insurance companies, mail order pharmacies, and many other settings. Their responsibilities may vary greatly among these settings.
How do I become a Pharmacy Technician?
Before formal education programs became available, there was no clear path to a career as a Pharmacy Technician. It was often difficult to gain employment with no experience, and experience could only be gained through employment. The Pharmacy Technology Program at Cabarrus College aims to provide the knowledge and skill set on which to build a career in this exciting field. Candidates with an Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technology have a strong competitive edge in obtaining entry-level employment and career advancement in all pharmacy settings.
Why should I pursue a degree in Pharmacy Technology?
This is a very exciting time to pursue a degree in Pharmacy Technology, because the professional scope of Pharmacy Technicians is rapidly expanding, and those with associate degrees are the most likely candidates to assume roles with greater responsibility. An Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technology is a valuable asset when pursuing employment in hospital pharmacy, research, and more specialized fields.
I am already a working Pharmacy Technician. Can I "test out" of some courses or use my experience toward college credit?
The opportunity exists to demonstrate proficiency in parts of the curriculum, depending on the individual experience and skill level of the technician. Credit will be considered on an individual student basis. You can request to receive credit by exam by completing the Credit by Exam form.
Why should I become certified?
Certification by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, or PTCB, is quickly becoming the most widely recognized national standard for the employment and promotion of Pharmacy Technicians. Technicians who pass the PTCB exam are recognized as CPhTs or Certified Pharmacy Technicians. Certified Pharmacy Technicians are often paid more than non-certified technicians, and enjoy more opportunities for advancement. The Pharmacy Technology Program at Cabarrus College provides excellent, specialized preparation for the Pharmacy Technology Certification Board Exam.
How long is the Pharmacy Technology program?
It takes two full years, four semesters.
What is the employment outlook for a Pharmacy Technician?
As the responsibilities of pharmacists become more clinical in nature, and overall demand for prescription medications grows, more Pharmacy Technicians will be needed to effectively perform the routine tasks of the prescription-filling process. Healthcare facilities are looking for ways to operate more efficiently, and better utilization of Pharmacy Technicians is a cost-effective measure to improve patient care. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment for Pharmacy Technicians will grow 25 percent, a rate greater than average, through 2018.
How do I know if Pharmacy Technology is the right field for me?
Effective Pharmacy Technicians have a strong orientation toward customer service and a genuine interest in helping others. Individuals should also have an interest in medical and pharmaceutical science. Good communication skills, attention to detail, and computer literacy are essential in effectively identifying and fulfilling the needs of customers, patients, and healthcare personnel. The ability to multi-task and remain calm during busy and stressful moments are also beneficial characteristics to those considering this field. If these traits apply to you, a career in pharmacy technology may prove to be enjoyable and rewarding for you.
Can I keep working while I am in the Pharmacy Technology program?
Since this program combines face-to-face and distance learning, it is an ideal program for the working student. However, students are encouraged to speak with the program chair to discuss their individual course loads and to schedule responsibly to find the right balance between work and school.
I plan to go to pharmacy school in the future to become a licensed pharmacist. Does this program fulfill any credits toward a Doctorate of Pharmacy?
The Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technology does not substitute for any coursework in a professional Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. This curriculum is designed to help you gain the skills needed to be a successful Pharmacy Technician. However, some general education courses will transfer to fulfill core requirements for a four-year degree or pre-professional program.
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