As of Nov.1, 2013, a new Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) was instituted for anyone hoping to become a certified pharmacy technician. The test is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB),which “advocates for a single national standard for pharmacy technician certification that is recognized and supported by the profession.”1
Why a new test?
The PTCB decided to change the testing standards after reviewing the results from its latest Jobs Analysis Study. The study involved a total of 25,712 pharmacy technicians who work in every state in the country and practice in every type of pharmacy setting.2
Conducted on a regular basis, the study’s results are evaluated by the PTCB to ensure it is using best practices in the industry and is consistent with the standards set by the National Commission for
Certifying Agencies. Those results also help to gauge the evolution of the roles of pharmacy technicians in a changing health care landscape.
“The PTCE is the foundation of PTCB’s certification program. We continually strive to ensure the PTCE is current and accurately tests the knowledge required in all sectors of pharmacy practice,” PTCB Executive Director and CEO Everett B. McAllister, MPA, RPh, said in a statement. “The updated PTCE is psychometrically sound, and reflects the results of our latest study across all practice settings, including community, hospital, and federal.”3
New testing standards
The newest version of the PTCE underwent an extensive reorganization. The exam now has a total of nine “domains,” or sections, as opposed to the three used on previous exams. All nine domains then have sub-domains, and the entire exam now has different areas of emphasis focusing more on specialties like medication safety and pharmacy information systems. The total number of questions – 90 multiple choice – will remain the same.
The overall goal of the new exam is to measure “the knowledge pharmacy technicians need to effectively support pharmacists and advance patient safety in today’s pharmacies,” according to a press release from the PTCB.
Effect on pharmacy tech students and grads
Anyone who has recently completed a pharmacy technician degree, and who applies to take the exam before Nov. 1, will be given the current version of the PTCE, with those applying on or after that date taking the updated version.
It is also likely that the new exam will ultimately have an impact on teaching methods in pharmacy technician programs throughout the country as it becomes the new standard for certification in the coming months.
1 Pharmacy Technician Certification Board website, “About PTCB.” http://www.ptcb.org/about-ptcb#.UjCIgcayCRM
2 Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Press Release, “Pharmacy Technician Certification Board to Introduce Updated Certification Test November 1,” Heraldonline.com. http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/08/29/5159501/pharmacy-technician-certification.html
3 Pharmacy Technician Board Press Release, “New Pharmacy Technician Exam Takes Effect this November,” PRWeb. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/9/prweb11110745.htm