Tuesday , 1 September 2015
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Pharmacy Technician Schools – Are They Worth It?

Pharmacy Technician Schools – Are They Worth It?

After graduating from high school, the urge to make your way in life and immediately find a job could be a paramount concern.

If your interest is geared more towards not only earning relatively well, but also having a deep sense of job satisfaction, then you would most likely be interested in becoming a pharmacy technician. One of the best ways to do so would be to take formal pharmacy technician programs and enroll in a pharmacy technician school.

What are Pharmacy Technician Programs?

Pharmacy technician programs are structured courses that focus on imparting knowledge about the nature of the job of a pharmacy technician to interested parties. Pharmacy technician classes are generally part of a ladderized program that leads to the acquisition of a degree from a pharmacy technician school.

This is misleading.  In reality, a pharmacy technician course is one that should end up with you getting a degree as a pharmacy technician.

If you were really interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, would you also be interested in taking up structured pharmacy technician classes  in a formal learning environment?

Why there is a Need for Formal Studies

There are those who do not see the need to take up formal studies, which includes undergoing formal training to become a pharmacy technician. This is particularly true today, in the light of the proliferation of handbooks, and do-it-yourself or DIY “courses” online.

But have you ever heard of the saying that “a little learning is a dangerous thing?” That saying applies greatly to the field of pharmacy technology.  It’s not enough to simply have undertaken self-study on being a pharmacy technician, to say that you are one.

Most states in the US won’t give you preferential hiring treatment if they find out that you did not undertake formal schooling to become a pharmacy technician. If ever there are states that will, you can be sure that career paths will not be laid out for you.  More importantly, if you have only the barest minimum requirements, it is a remote possibility that you will gain access to jobs that are outside the retail setting.

In other words, as a pharmacy assistant (as opposed to being a pharmacy technician) you will be the least considered for sensitive hospital pharmacy position, whether in the inpatient or outpatient departments.

Specific Advantages of Structured Education

There are numerous advantages to be had from undergoing structured education in order to become a pharmacy technician. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • When you have an actual teacher educating you, you will be able to learn how to pronounce certain medicine-related terms, as well as understand what they mean. This is very important during persona interaction later on with consumers in a pharmacy setting.
  • When you undergo structured education classes, you will be taught how to effectively deal with doctors and other medical and healthcare professionals. This will not only develop your own sense of professionalism, it can also be a way by which to broaden your own professional network.
  • Formal education that specializes in pharmacy technology will normally include computer classes and mathematics because these are highly integrated in the modern practices of a pharmacy, specifically in the areas of using pharmacy-devoted computer software and in helping to prepare quantities.

You’ll see right away that the duties entail more than simple retail dispensing of pharmaceuticals.

For example, these three typical duties,  encompass computer knowledge:

  • Record keeping and filing of physicians’ orders and prescriptions.
  • Generating revenues by calculating, issuing and recording charges.
  • Preparing reports by obtaining and summarizing information.

Meanwhile, these two duties require a good grasp of mathematics and medical principles:

  • Organizing medications that the pharmacists will dispense. This task involves going through medication orders, preparing medicine labels, calculating quantities, and preparing IV solutions and other pharmaceutical treatments.
  • Protecting both patients and employees by adhering to infection-control regulations.

Those are skills and knowledge that are honed much better in a pharmacy technician class. Of course, it may be argued that it is possible to learn how to do such things on your own. But then again, there is no guarantee that the knowledge you will acquire from self-study is indeed accurate and still valid, given how dynamic the pharmaceutical, medical, and healthcare industries are. Reading about how to do one technique is different from actually doing it in person.

The added benefit of having undergone training from a certified pharmacy technician program is that you will get you the practical hands on training that is often missing from just reading the certification text book alone. Most schools provide an internship where you can actually practice in a real life pharmacy environment under the Preceptorship of a licensed pharmacist. You will be able to get a sense of the workflow environment and be provided training on how pharmacy is practiced in reality. In addition, schools provide training on how to intake prescriptions, verify identity, allergies, enter and submit to insurance plans, as well as how to use the real life computer systems that pharmacies run. This added experience is much valuable and will prepare yourself to become a pharmacy technician much better than reading just a simply book. Thus, this real life practical component is essential towards becoming a competent pharmacy technician.

Also, unless you will be working in a family-run pharmaceutical business, not having formal schooling behind you can greatly diminish your chances for getting a pharmacy technician’s job. And even then, it will be very beneficial to a family-run pharmacy to have someone with the correct attitude and sufficient educational background to help in running it.

  • Moreover, having a formal degree will enable you, as a pharmacy technician, to inspire confidence among the people you will interact with, and the consumers or public that you will deal with. This is because having taken up formal classes and training, and eventually acquiring a degree can lead you to becoming more adept when taking the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) given by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

Consequently, owning a certification shows the world that you are truly qualified to take on the responsibilities of a professional pharmacy technician. This means that in the event a malpractice suit arises, you will be able to show more effectively that you are learned and capable, and are not just some hack who irresponsibly put the health and lives of other people at risk by your ineptitude.

Just remember, not all pharmacy training schools are alike. As requirements from state to state vary, so may there be some slight variations in curriculum. When evaluating whether or not a particular pharmacy technician school or training center would best serve your needs, attend to the following considerations:

  • Rates of placement -  how many graduates of the facility are now gainfully employed as a pharmacy technician?
  • Referrals and professional endorsements – a brief talk with some graduates of the facility and their program director can give you an idea of how things are being run.
  • Instructors’ experience and credentials – are ALL the instructors PTCB certified?
  • Tuition – amount, terms of payment, and inclusions.
  • Support mechanisms – are students given access to school resources such as online libraries? Up to when?

These are questions you need to ask so that you will find the best among the many different pharmacy technician schools available.

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