Pharmacy technicians are support staff in hospital and community pharmacies. In addition to serving customers and patients, they may dispense medications under the supervision of a pharmacist. Since each state regulates pharmacy technicians, the rules that cover their training and practice usually differ from state to state. Because pharmacy technicians handle medications and money, honesty and appropriate behavior are essential.
About Pharmacy Technicians
Many pharmacy technicians get their training on the job, although some states require completion of a program in pharmacy technology. Pharmacy technology programs typically last about one year and are available from community colleges, technical-vocational skills and some universities. Courses usually cover subjects such as math, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, pharmacology and ways of dispensing medications. Although pharmacy technicians are not usually licensed, some states require certification or require the candidate to pass an exam. A few states, such as Oregon, do require a license. All pharmacy technicians must be supervised by a licensed pharmacist. Some states also require that pharmacy technicians complete continuing education courses after graduation.
A background check may disqualify you from becoming a pharmacy technician. During the process of handling medications for dispensing to the patient, a pharmacy technician may have the opportunity to divert, or steal, medications. If you have a history of drug-related offenses, for example, you may not be able to get into a pharmacy technician program. Pharmacies are much more likely to perform background checks than they once were, according to “U.S. Pharmacist.” A background check could include research into criminal activity, driving offenses such as a DUI, evidence of fraud or even a credit check.
In addition to background checks, your prospective employer might contact previous employers or -- if you are a recent graduate -- your instructors. The employer may also verify that you did in fact attend and graduate from a program or ask for evidence of certification. Some pharmacies will also check databases of registered sex offenders and incarceration records to determine your moral character. If you falsify any of this information or lie about it on your application or in an interview, you are unlikely to get the job. Performance is another issue. Pharmacy technicians, for example, must use mathematics in their jobs, according to the BLS. If you cannot perform mathematical calculations, you are unlikely to succeed as a pharmacy technician.
Some states may have specific requirements for pharmacy technicians; if you don’t meet the requirements, you may be disqualified. In New Hampshire, a pharmacy technician must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character and cannot have been convicted of a drug-related felony. Pharmacy technicians in Virginia must pass an exam and cannot re-certify -- which they must do annually -- unless they complete continuing education. Pharmacy technicians in Kansas must score at least 75 percent on an exam administered by the pharmacist in charge. Oregon pharmacy technicians must become certified within one year of initial licensure or by their 19th birthday. Failure to meet any of these state requirements can disqualify you from being a pharmacy technician.
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