5 key skills in becoming a successful pharmacy technician
As demand for pharmacy technicians reaches new heights, the core criteria for what employers desire is becoming increasingly important. Pharm tech employment is expected to increase by 20 percent from 2010-2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1
For students graduating from pharmacy technician classes, there are a several basic things to know in order to excel in the workplace. Wherever you’re working – hospitals, neighborhood pharmacies, long-term care facilities or home health care agencies – keep these five things in mind when interviewing and starting work:
1. Math skills
Pharmacies need people with strong “left” brains, since daily duties include measuring amounts of medication for prescription. Now more than ever, pharmacy techs are being tasked with handling the distribution details of prescription drugs. While duties vary depending on the workplace, all techs fill prescriptions. And it’s necessary to get measurements accurate.
Jan Keresztes, a pharmacy technician program coordinator in South Holland shared her two cents with the Chicago Tribune.
“You must have good math skills, a great memory, an enthusiastic personality and the physical stamina to stand on your feet all day,” Keresztes told the source. “(Someone) who’s organized and meticulous, with typing and communication skills and a caring attitude, would be an excellent entry-level pharmacy technician.”2
2. Good memory
A good memory is essential, as you’ll have to remember which pills go in which bottles. As the weeks go on, keeping track of medications and learning efficient packaging will speed the process for both you and the client.
3. Multi-tasking abilities
Juggling several responsibilities at once is crucial for this job. Techs may have to count medication while on the phone, manage multiple orders at once or replace stock while handling the drive-thru window. Pharmacy techs serve as support staff for pharmacists, and as the tech is in the middle of a task, the pharmacists may call on them to fill a new order.
On top of formal training, patience is a must. Techs have to be willing to help clients and be concerned about their health. When dealing with difficult clients, taking things step by step may be necessary, though certainly not the most efficient. At times, they’ll have to accept criticism and handle stressful situations in a calm manner.
5. Organizational skills
Like in other jobs, organization promotes efficiency. Pharmacy technicians must create a set of goals and plan how to prioritize, organize and accomplish their work. More specifically, they’ll need to accurately divvy up medication and prepare it for the client. In this phase, staying organized is essential, since giving a client the wrong pill could be costly.
“In most states, technicians can compound or mix some medications and call physicians for prescription refill authorizations,” the BLS reports.1
1Summary. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm#tab-6
2Hutkin, E. (2014, October 10). Pharm tech: Math skills, good memory and a knack for multi-tasking are key. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/careers/sns-201410101230–tms–careercarer-a20141010-20141010-story.html#page=1