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What are a Pharmacy Technician’s Responsibilities in a Hospital Setting?

Pharmacy technicians are responsible for assisting licensed pharmacists prepare and distribute medication.

What are a Pharmacy Technician’s Responsibilities in a Hospital Setting?

Those who work in a hospital have many day-to-day responsibilities. They include:

Filling Orders

Pharmacy Technician's ResponsibilitiesPharmacy technicians fill prescription orders that are written by physicians in a hospital. They must verify all orders, count the proper number of pills, and label completed orders. In some hospitals, technicians need to count the pills by hand, while in others, technicians can use a counting machine. Either way, a pharmacist is required to supervise the filling process and give final approval.

Compounding

This occurs when pharmacy technicians mix two or more drugs based on a physician’s prescription. Compounding allows a pharmacy to create customized drugs in order to meet the needs of individual patients. Tablets, creams, capsules, elixirs, and suppositories can all be compounded by weighing the ingredients and appropriately mixing them.

Obtaining Information

Pharmacy Technicians obtain patients’ medical insurance information so they can submit claims on their behalf. They also determine cost-effective alternatives that are allowed under each patient’s plan such as generic medications.

Processing Bulk Orders

When working in a hospital, pharmacy technicians often have to fill multiple dose packages and label each unit so the pharmacist can give final approval. Before the orders are distributed, pharmacy technicians must do quality control to look for obvious defects.

Inventory Control

Each time a hospital pharmacy accepts a delivery from a supplier, the technicians stock the shelves and confirm that the proper amount of products were received. They also take inventory counts on a frequent basis to determine if the pharmacy has the needed amount of drugs in stock. At this time, expired drugs are removed from the shelves and are properly disposed.

Medication Delivery

Pharmacy technicians are the ones responsible for delivering medications to all nursing stations within the hospital.

Clerical Duties

When not working with medications, pharmacy technicians answer the telephone to assist physicians and nurses, enter patients’ medication information in their chart, and fill out requisition forms.

Education

In many places, one can begin work with a high school diploma and on-the-job training. However, some states or employers require a more formal education. Pharmacy technician programs are found at community colleges and vocational schools in the United States, and take six months to two years to complete. Courses vary from program to program, but may include Anatomy, Physiology, Medical Terminology, Pharmacy Law and Ethics, Chemistry, Medical Billing, Calculus, Dosage Calculations, and Pharmacology.

Certification

Some states require certification while in others it’s optional. To earn certification, pharmacy technicians can sit for an exam administered by either the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians or the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. The exams are offered four times a year and contain multiple-choice questions. It’s best to study for weeks leading up to your exam date in order to give yourself the best chance to pass on the first attempt. To prepare, take a few practice exams and make flashcards of the questions and answers. Then go over your flashcards with a family member or friend.

Outlook

Due to the aging population and advances in medicine, the job growth for this profession is expected to rise twenty percent until 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Salary

In 2012, the BLS reported that pharmacy technicians who worked in general and surgical hospitals earned a yearly average salary of $34,410. Those who worked in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals earned an average of $33,470, while pharmacy technicians who worked in specialty hospitals (excluding psychiatric hospitals) had an annual average salary of $36,160.

If you are considering becoming a pharmacy technician, please feel free to contact us to learn more about this career.