On the Job
Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists provide medicines and other health care products to patients.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and as a result, many people are prescribed blood-thinning medications. At the same time, many people take certain medications to help alleviate arthritis pain. For many older Americans, it's quite possible that they suffer from both conditions, and need to take medicine for both. No problem, right? Well, it depends on what these medications are. Some prescription drugs may interact with each other and cause a bad reaction. Often, it's the job of pharmacy technicians to look at a patient's record and determine if there is any danger of a drug interaction occurring.The duties of pharmacy technicians who work in drug stores vary by state. This is because some states limit what technicians can do. In general, technicians review prescriptions or requests for refills that they receive from patients. To fill prescriptions, they count, pour, measure, or mix the medication. Then they select a container, and prepare and attach a label. They price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to a patient.
Pharmacy technicians may set up and maintain patient profiles. These are files that give a patient's medication history and are often stored on a computer. Technicians also fill out insurance claim forms. In addition, they take inventory of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. They enter this information into the computer so it can be reviewed and supplies ordered. They also stock incoming supplies. Some technicians clean and maintain pharmacy equipment. Some ring up sales on the cash register.
In hospitals, technicians have more responsibilities. They read patient charts, and prepare and deliver the medicine to patients. Then they copy the information into the patient's profile. Technicians may also put together a 24-hour supply of medicine for patients. They package and label each dose separately. They also make up intravenous (IV) packs for patients. A pharmacist must check medications before they are delivered.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Transfer medications from vials to syringes.
- Perform all duties under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
- Prepare medications and intravenous (IV) packs.
- Verify written prescriptions or requests for refills.
- Answer telephones and respond to customer questions.
- Maintain proper storage and security for drugs.
- Fill bottles with prescribed medications. Prepare and attach labels to containers.
- Monitor machines that fill prescriptions.
- Prepare insurance claim forms.
- Count, measure, or mix medications.
- Run cash register.
- Price and file prescriptions that have been filled.
- Clean and sterilize pharmacy equipment according to prescribed methods.
- Establish and maintain patient profiles.
- Calculate charges for medication and equipment. Enter data in computer.
- Deliver medications and supplies to patients or staff.
- Count inventory and enter data into computer. Inform supervisors of inventory shortages.
- Price supplies and mark items for sale.
- Receive and store incoming supplies.
- Sell home health care products and services.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Process information.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Use computers.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Assist and care for others.
- Work for the public.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Document and record information.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Analyze data or information.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Resolve conflicts and negotiate with others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact. They constantly interact with customers and patients.
- Often deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals. Customers may become upset if their order is not ready on time.
- Are responsible for work outcomes. They must be sure that customer prescription and refill information is verified.
- Are sometimes placed in conflict situations.
- Communicate with coworkers, patients, and customers daily by telephone or in person.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Almost always work indoors.
- Work near other people, but usually have a few feet of space separating them from others.
- Sometimes wear a uniform or lab coat.
- Are sometimes exposed to diseases, infections, and contaminants.
- Must be very exact in their work. Errors could cause serious health problems for patients.
- Repeat the same tasks over and over, such as verifying customer and patient information.
- Are able to set some tasks for the day without consulting with a supervisor. This is because they do many of the same tasks each day.
- They consult pharmacists for some decisions, but make most without talking to a supervisor.
- Work in a moderately competitive atmosphere.
- Must meet strict deadlines on a weekly basis.
- Generally have a set schedule each week.
- May work part time or full time, but most work 40 hours a week.
- May work evenings, nights, weekends, and some holidays.
- May work varying shifts.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Stand or walk for long periods of time.
- Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Repeat the same movements.
- See details of objects whether they are nearby or far away.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Be physically active for long periods without getting tired or out of breath.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.