Pharmacy technicians working to the top of their license

What is a pharmacy technician today?

Federal authorizing of pharmacy technicians to give COVID-19 tests and vaccines, as well as routine child vaccines, was a giant push forward in 2020. But technicians’ roles have been evolving for decades. What technicians may do varies by state and qualifications—and vary by pharmacy. But what is universal is that technicians do much more than just entering data, putting pills in a bottle, verifying medications and acting as cashiers. In addition to becoming certified generally, pharmacy technicians can earn credentials in nearly a dozen specialties, including billing, sterile compounding and medication therapy management.

Find their fit in your pharmacy

When you maximize the roles of your technicians, you maximize the roles of your pharmacists too. By taking on tasks that may require only minutes per patient, technicians free hours for pharmacists to do the work only they can with patients. Break down the workflow in your pharmacy to pinpoint the tasks pharmacists must do. Then see how technicians or other staff can clear the other items off pharmacists’ plates. Don’t assume you can’t expand your pharmacy’s offerings until you consider what your techs can do, such as compounding. If you’re looking into a telehealth service, for example, consider training a tech to operate the hardware and software as a “telemedicine technician.”[i]

Invest in their careers and watch the return

Hire and grow well-trained techs who are not only qualified to step into new roles but also confident advancing in their careers. Satisfied employees stay. Encourage them to take advantage of new certification and continuing education opportunities, through avenues such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and Health Mart University. Just as you benefit from networking with peers, ensure your techs keep up with developments across the independent pharmacy industry. Consider bringing your top techs to McKesson’s ideaShare this year, July 7-10 in Washington, D.C. To keep the role of technicians advancing, advocate for them at the state and national level. Their authorization to administer COVID tests and vaccines under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act extended only to the public health emergency. Making it permanent will take further action. Find more ideas for making the most of your staff:
Top photo: Winners of the 2023 Health Mart Pharmacy of the Year, the Eden Drug team of Eden, North Carolina, makes the most of their pharmacy technicians’ evert growing roles.
[i] “Five Ways Pharmacy Expanded its Role During COVID-19,” James A. Bana and Leila Tibi-Scherl, Premier Pharmacy Blog, Oct. 12, 2021.

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