Pharmacy Technicians-An Integral Part of Health Care Industry

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Every year, many potentially deadly diseases are discovered by doctors around the globe. Notable among them are the recent H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak in North America and SARS in Asia.  However, research is constantly being undertaken that could lead to the discovery of new drugs, which could assist in the treatment of such illnesses. As a result, a lot of pharmacists are needed not only for basic medical research, but also to serve people needing these medications and to study the effects these drugs have on the human body. This has increased the demand for pharmacists and is also causing their practices to grow.  Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists in fulfilling a growing requirement of the health care industry.

Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists prepare prescription medications, receiving prescription requests, counting tablets, and labeling bottles and other administrative duties within a pharmacy setting. They also perform clerical duties such as answering phones, stocking shelves, and operating cash registers whenever required. They may also prepare insurance forms and maintain patient profiles.

Pharmacy Technicians work in different pharmacy settings and their responsibilities vary accordingly. They verify the accuracy and the completeness of the information on prescriptions. They count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication and also prepare and affix the labels to the container.

Experienced pharmacy technicians are routinely hired by hospitals, retail chain stores and a variety of medical offices. Those with recognized certification and instruction from a leading institution should expect to be paid well. Experienced and registered technicians can go on to become supervisors, which can allow them to command higher wages.

While no formal training is required for Pharmacy Technicians, a high school diploma along with proper certification, and training from a qualified and licensed school, would definitely increase their chances for first time employment. Though they provide informal on-the-job training, employers prefer those with formal training and certification. Pharmacy Technician programs are offered by various vocational schools and community colleges, which offer classroom study along with hands-on laboratory training.

These programs cover a wide range of subjects including medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy recordkeeping, pharmaceutical techniques, and pharmacy law and ethics; and usually last for a period of 6 months to 2 years, depending on the nature of program. Several private institutions such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT), conduct certification exams.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase phenomenally, by an estimated 31% over the next decade. Job opportunities are forecast to be good, especially for those with substantial training, formal certification and previous work experience.  It is much easier finding that first job with certification and training than without.
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