For the average person looking over the counter at a pharmacy, everyone seems to be busy with the same tasks. In many ways, it might seem like pharmacy techs and pharmacists have the same job, but there are a number of key differences between their respective professions. These differences allow a pharmacy to function as needed to fulfill the needs of their patients, and it is vital for anyone seeking a career as a pharmacy tech to be aware of these differences.
A pharmacist supervises pharmacy techs, creates medicines from the necessary ingredients, advises patients, and double checks prescriptions to make sure there are no complications. To be a pharmacist, one must have a doctorate degree in pharmacology, requiring six years of schooling. In addition, they must complete a one-year internship and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).
Since they need to be able to distinguish between medications, formulate them, and give advice to patients, a pharmacist’s education will center around the science of how medications interact with the body and each other.
Unlike pharmacists, pharmacy techs don’t need very much education. In some states, only a high school diploma is required. Others require certification. This is gained by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PCTE) from the PTCB and/or the ExCPT exam from the NHA. There are a number of programs available to help prepare individuals to pass these exams, including degrees, certification programs, and online training programs.
A pharmacy tech’s duties include operational and administrative tasks, such as dispensing prescriptions (once approved by the pharmacist), packing and labeling medications, running a cash register, processing insurance claims, handling paperwork, maintaining HIPAA compliance, and managing inventory. They do not give medical advice or create medications.
Whether or not your state requires certification to work as a pharmacy technician, it’s in your best interest to get certified. Online programs, such as Ashworth’s pharmacy technician training program, provide the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in this field.