The typical duties of a Pharmacy Technician can vary drastically based on the work environment chosen. Read about the typical day of both a traditional pharmacy technician and mail-order pharmacy technician to learn which path may be best for you.
The Work of a Traditional Pharmacy Technician
Krista Collins, Arizona College Pharmacy Technician Graduate
“My job as a Pharmacy Technician within a hospital setting is filled with a lot of important responsibilities. Pharmacy Technicians are tasked with helping the pharmacy run smoothly and efficiently by performing duties within the pharmacy, as well as throughout the hospital itself. Compounding and filling of IV orders in our IV Room is one of the most important jobs, and requires both attention to detail and stamina as it is a challenging, fast-paced environment.
In addition to filling scheduled medications, we prepare TPNs, narcotic drips, and many STAT medications continuously throughout the workday. We have to be able to think quickly, identify and select proper medications, and figure dosing strengths, all while ensuring that our sterile technique is perfect. Our IV Room pharmacists depend on us to prepare everything properly, but are always present in case of questions and to verify our work. Some Pharmacy Technicians are tasked with the specific responsibility of stocking our Omnicell machines and ensuring that expired medications are removed from these machines, which are located throughout the entire hospital.
It is very important that medications are available within the Omnicell machines so that nurses can provide the highest level of care to their patients in a timely manner. Pharmacy Technicians are also tasked with compounding many liquid oral medications. The Pharmacy Technician responsible for creating oral compounds prepares all STAT, scheduled, and PRN oral medications. Some of our other duties include cleaning and sanitizing work areas and equipment, repackaging bulk medications, stocking medications, and ensuring that stock is rotated and expired medications removed. In addition, we are always available to our pharmacists to provide assistance with anything they might need throughout the day. While the majority of questions for pharmacy staff must go directly to a pharmacist, in many instances, Pharmacy Technicians can help identify the problem, locate a missing medication, or answer a general question.
I feel like a lot of responsibility is on my shoulders with this job, but that empowers me to do my best and be a great employee because people are depending on me, and what I do makes a difference in the lives of our patients. I know I’m my best self when I’m at work, and that makes me proud.”
Preparing for this day
“For me, it was an easy choice to become a Pharmacy Technician. I read a lot about the job and talked to other people I know who are in this field. When I found the Pharmacy Technician program at Arizona College, I knew it was the right environment for me because of the flexible schedule and hands-on training opportunities. The faculty and staff in the Pharmacy Technician program were so helpful in guiding me toward success in this career, and they helped me through the certification process I needed to get started in my job. Becoming a Pharmacy Technician has been a very rewarding career for me!”
The Work of a Mail-Order Pharmacy Technician
Evan Phillips, Arizona College Pharmacy Technician Graduate
“Since graduating from the Arizona College Pharmacy Technician program, I have worked as an associate in a large mail-order pharmacy. Mail-order pharmacies are a little different than traditional pharmacies in that we don’t deal directly with the public in the dispensing area, but rather medications are mailed from the pharmacy and delivered directly to patients’ homes.
Typically, my day starts off with a department meeting first thing in the morning to cover any recent changes in practice within the pharmacy. After the meeting, I take my place in the area I am assigned to start the day. In a mail-order pharmacy, there are a variety of different work areas – some are more specialized than others. I am fortunate enough to have been trained to handle the responsibilities particular to most of the areas of the pharmacy, so my day has the potential to be filled with a variety of different tasks. Daily duties for Mail-Order Pharmacy Technicians can range from filling individual vials to replenishing large dispensing cells, preparing medications and compounds, and entering patient and prescription information into the pharmacy’s database. It’s a fast-paced environment with a high expectation on quality that requires an individual with an exceptional attention to detail and the ability to work under pressure.
Of all the things I love about my job, I think my favorite part of working as a Mail-Order Pharmacy Technician is the opportunity to continually learn new things, and the potential to advance within the field.
My time at Arizona College helped me get the hands-on training I needed to be successful in my career as a Pharmacy Technician.”
The First Step to Become a Pharmacy Technician
The accredited Pharmacy Technician Training Program at Arizona College is designed to prepare students for the Pharmacy Technician certification exam as well as the licensing exam that must be passed before you can become a Pharmacy Technician. Students are given hands-on training in pharmacy laboratories and modern facilities, attend lectures with experienced professors, and gain experience using technical equipment as well as pharmacy management software.