PHARMACY TECHNICIAN JOB DESCRIPTION
In the wild world of pharmaceuticals, a pharmacy technician performs an important role in any setting. The two most common settings are inpatient and outpatient, commonly known as hospital and retail respectively. Before we proceed further, it’s essential to understand that a pharmacy technician is supervised by the pharmacist he works with. However, it’s important to understand the duties performed by a pharmacy technician irrespective of the setting he or she will work in.
WHAT DOES A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN DO?
The duties of a certified pharmacy technician include the following:
- Preparation of medications for patients
- Receiving and verifying the prescriptions
- Pricing and filling of prescriptions
- Completing patient paperwork related to the filling of prescription
- Assisting with insurance claims processing
- Stocking and pricing of medications in inventory
- Ensuring availability of drugs by delivering them to patients or facilities HOSPITAL PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
The duties of a certified pharmacy technician working in a hospital setting include the following:
- Compounding intravenous (IV) solutions
- Delivering medications to and from satellite pharmacies
- Restocking automated medication dispensing systems
- Mixing and dispensing orally-administered medications
- Unit-dosing tablets from a bulk bottle
Working in a hospital is typically different from working in a retail pharmacy setting. In most cases, a huge portion of the medications provided are solutions to be administered intravenously. To be able to prepare these solutions, the technician must have a firm grasp on aseptic technique.
IV medications are always compounded in a laminar flow hood, in which air is passed through a HEPA filter to create a sterile environment to significantly lessen the chance of contamination.
Some big hospitals have what is called, “satellite pharmacies.” They are a smaller version of the central pharmacy and produce medications for specific indications. For instance, oncology supply chemotherapy medications to cancer treatment centers within the facility.
In order to economize fund, many hospitals will order tablets or capsules in bulk bottles. When a patient is admitted, the nurses will be given access to a 24-hour supply of medication. Since this is the case, tablets need to be individually packaged. Unit-dosing and labeling these medications is the job of a technician. Once they have been confirmed by a pharmacist, they will be delivered either to a patient-specific bin or to an automated dispensing system that the nurses may access at the time of administration.
RETAIL PHARMACY TECHNICIAN
The duties of a certified pharmacy technician working in a retail setting include the following:
- Intake of written and electronic prescriptions
- Billing insurance
- Compounding various topical creams/ointments, as well as oral liquids
- Accurately counting and dispensing medications
- Assisting customers with the purchase of their medications
Customer service is essential in a retail pharmacy setting. Taking into consideration that over 3/4 of pharmacy technicians work in retail, interpersonal skills are a necessity. In a hospital that is also inevitable. The technician is the first person a patient will speak with as they drop off their prescription. Occasionally prescriptions are received through phone call directly from the physician’s office or through special applications and email. The billing information is also taken at this point in the process. Once the information written on the prescription is registered to the computer, the technician will pull the medication from the shelf and dispense it. In many instances, they will pull tablets or capsules, but occasionally the patient will need injectable medications, topical creams or oral liquids. Depending on state law and local Board of Pharmacy regulations, a technician can weigh, retrieve, and sometimes, even mix the medications (even when this is allowed in a state where you practice, a pharmacist may still want to supervise the process, allowing the technician to gain more experience). Direct instructions on what to do and what not to do will be received at the facility where the technician work.
After the medication is properly dispensed and labeled, it will need to be confirmed by a pharmacist to guarantee that the patient received the correct item. Once that has happened, the technician will assist the customer with their purchase.