A pharmacy technician is a person who works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Many pharmacy-related tasks and functions are handled by them, even some that one expects to be the tasks for the pharmacist himself. They are not simply assistants to the pharmacist, as we will see in this article.
It can differ in some countries, but for the most part they are not qualified to counsel patients on the prescription and proper use of their medication. One exception is the United Kingdom, where continuing professional development allows them to give advice on medication to patients. There are also specialist clinics that are run by them, and these are mainly maintenance drug administration duties.
For most pharmacy technicians, the provision of drug and other health care products to patients is their primary duty. They are knowledgeable enough to dispense the right medicines as prescribed by doctors or licensed pharmacists. They are also the ones who handle inventory, perform cashier tasks, restock shelves, answer phone calls, and enter data in computer databases. The mundane tasks of the drug store, so to speak. These duties are the ones that most people believe make up the entire job description of pharmacy technicians, though their contribution is no small matter. They are the lifeblood of drug stores, and daily operations of such facilities depend highly upon them.
Sometimes, they are allowed to compound medicines. Simple compounding which involves few ingredients and less-dangerous substances may be done by these workers. The final product still goes under the watchful eye of the pharmacist though, to ensure quality and consistency of the product, as well as to make sure that the recipes were followed properly. This is especially helpful when the pharmacist has other duties to attend to and a batch of drugs must be made ready and available. What the technicians do allows the pharmacist to perform other important duties, meaning that performance rests on the backs of workers.
There are two kinds of pharmacy technicians, distinguished by where they work. Most of them work in retail pharmacies, both independently owned and those that are part of a retail chain company. The others work in assisted living facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. The latter type has additional responsibilities, such as reading patient record charts in together with verified prescriptions. Following which, they prepare the various medications and drugs as required in the prescription before handing it out to nurses for the actual administration.
They are also responsible for labeling bottles or sets of medication, either by hand or with a labeling machine of some description. Doing this ensures that the receiver knows what the container holds within before opening it or accidentally taking in the wrong medicine.
Pharmacists are increasingly required to be present and available for patient consultations, meaning that their time and energy allotted to the pharmacy are becoming more and more limited. Pharmacy technicians are there to pick up the slack and keep everything running as they should. The demand for skilled medical experts like them will continue to increase.
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