Have you considered a career as a pharmacy technician but wondered if there were job possibilities beyond the fluorescent lights of a chain store counter?
Employment of pharmacy techs is estimated to increase by 25 percent through 2018, much faster than the average career.
As cost-focused insurers begin to use pharmacies as patient-care centers, e.g., the rise of the in-store flu vaccine, and pharmacists become more involved in direct care, pharmacy techs will see an ongoing expansion of their role including an increase in more mundane tasks such as answering phones and stocking shelves. The job won’t get more interesting, the wage may increase a bit and there will be more to do. So what’s the next step if you want a larger paycheck and a greater challenge?
Seek a bigger playing field
For the most part, opportunities to advance are generally limited for the 75 percent who work at pharmacies in retail establishments. But for those pharmacy techs with significant experience working in large pharmacies and healthcare systems, there are opportunities for advancement into supervisory positions. Management jobs are few and far between, and it usually takes years to rise to that level. That being said, larger healthcare organizations, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, offer more potential for career and financial rewards for pharmacy techs with the training to meet diverse patient needs.
Train and specialize
One route for pharmacy techs is to certify in pharmaceutical compounding.Pharmaceutical compounding is an art as much as a science. It requires expertise in the mixing of drugs to fit the unique needs of a patient. A skilled compounder may change a solid pill to a liquid to avoid an ingredient that the patient is allergic to; to obtain an exact dosage; or to mix a nonpharmaceutical with an ingredient that will make it a prescription curative.
Pharmacy techs working in a clinical setting can undertake IV Certification, which trains students in the preparation of common intravenous therapies and sterile product preparation. Specialty positions such as chemotherapy technician and nuclear pharmacy technician require even more specific preparation. Course work in both these areas is designed to instruct pharmacy techs in the handling of life-saving, albeit hazardous materials.
Returning to school to make the leap to pharmacist is another option but, barring that, aspiring pharmacy techs can find out more through the National Pharmacy Technician Association.
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