What Does an Oncology Pharmacy Technician Do?
An oncology pharmacy technician is different from your ordinary pharmacy technician that works at your local pharmacy in that they specially deal with cancer drugs. Also called chemotherapy technicians, they are trained to dispense drugs that kill cancer cells in cancer patients. They work with doctors, nurses and pharmacists as part of a health care team dedicated to helping patients with cancer live more comfortable lives. They work directly with cancer drugs, which can be taken orally or intravenously. Because there is so much involved with dispensing cancer drugs, oncology pharmacy technicians are needed to assist pharmacists.
Oncology pharmacy technicians work in hospitals and pharmacies in cancer centers. They follow doctors’ orders to ensure the medicine is dispensed accurately. They label bottles and jars and operate equipment. They assist pharmacists and physicians as needed. They are in charge of inventory, ordering medicine and supplies and reconciling invoices as necessary. They perform administrative tasks, such as filling out forms and updating patient records. This requires computer skills, particularly with databases and the maintenance of electronic health records. Safety is critical with chemotherapy drugs, since there are risks involved with handling these types of drugs. Therefore, oncology pharmacy technicians must be trained in keeping the environment safe and sterile at all times.
Oncology pharmacy technicians need several important skills in order to be successful. They must be able to listen and follow directions well. A solid knowledge of medical terminology is preferred. Oncology pharmacy technicians must also be very strong in math. They must be able to add and subtract, use ratios and work with fractions. Correct math calculations are extremely important, since calculating the incorrect dosage can cause a patient to receive too much or too little of an important medication. Chemotherapy medications help cancer patients to survive, so an incorrect dosage can cause serious side effects or even death.
The training needed for oncology pharmacy technicians can be acquired through a local community college. Many offer one-year programs that teach students everything they need in order to become certified. There are also specialized courses that one can take as well. These courses focus on safety and other aspects that pertain solely to oncology pharmacy technicians. The National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) also offers a chemotherapy course designed especially for oncology pharmacy technicians. This course focuses on the safe handling of chemotherapy drugs. This home-based course consists of 10 modules reading assignments and exams. Some medical training facilities and career colleges offer courses and complete programs as well. Many hospitals and cancer centers offer on-the-job training for new employees.
Once the proper education has been obtained, the next step is to pass a written exam. This test, called the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), is administered by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and the PTCE Board. This multiple-choice exam must be taken every two years. It covers topics such as administrative duties, inventory control and pharmacist assistance.
Oncology pharmacy technicians can expect to earn an average of $36,000 per year. This can vary greatly, depending on experience, location and company. Metropolitan areas tend to pay more than jobs in rural areas. Plus, more experience typically equates to more money, so a seasoned technician with 10+ years of experience is likely to make much more than a recent graduate. The employment outlook is good and it is probable that the demand for these types of technicians will rise in the coming years. With the baby boomer population aging and cancer becoming more common, the need for chemotherapy drugs will steadily increase. Plus, new technologies in cancer drugs will increase the demand.
Understanding the Pharmacy Technician Code of Ethics
When a person decides to become a pharmacy technician, a decision is being made to assist people in obtaining quality, professional health care. A technician assists pharmacists in a variety of functions including working directly with patients, dispensing and preparing prescriptions and medical equipment and verifying prescription information. Whatever the task may be, the technician is required to comply with the Pharmacy Technician Code of Ethics which was developed by the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians.
History of the Code of Ethics
Over the past two decades the role of the technician has changed and progressed to include more and more duties and responsibilities. As the nation faces a shortage of pharmacists, the use of technicians has skyrocketed in the industry. Technicians are used largely in retail pharmacies, but they are also employed in hospitals and nursing homes. They also fill a variety of government jobs. As technicians became more heavily relied upon, the industry began to cry out for reform and regulation of the job duties, training and continuing education. In 2002, many organizations came together to insist upon standardization of the industry. While this has not taken place at a national level, there have been many advances in making the profession more regulated. Certification is required, but the exact educational requirements vary by program and state. The certification is issued by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. This board also monitors adherence to the code of ethics established for the profession.
What it Means for Pharmacy Technicians
This code is similar to the Code of Ethics for pharmacists, requiring a person to work carefully to ensure the safety of patients. There are ten points contained in the code, concentrating on patient safety, continuing education and professionalism. The first several points concentrate on safety. The patient should always be the first priority.
Preparing medication for a person gives a technician a life-and-death responsibility. Mixing the wrong concentration of a solution can lead to a final product that causes complications and possibly death. Not properly monitoring all the medications a patient is taking can lead to adverse reactions. Only medications and equipment of good quality should be dispensed, with any violations reported accordingly.
The technician should remain professional and honest at all times, maintaining compliance with all laws and regulations. This includes assisting the pharmacist, fellow employees and patients to the best of their ability. In order to do this, a technician needs to stay abreast of all new updates and take advantage of continuing education opportunities. Technology and treatment are constantly changing and advancing, and it is important to stay well informed to best serve patients.
Technicians need to support organizations that promote standards in the pharmaceutical industry. They need to refrain from engaging in illegal activity that could tarnish the image of the profession. Protecting patient data and confidentiality is also of critical importance.
Violations of the Code of Ethics
Violations of the Code of Ethics are handled by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board if the technician is certified. Reports can be made by co-workers, patients or anyone who witnesses an ethical violation. There is a formal process in which the complaint is reviewed for merit and forwarded to a Resolution Officer and then to the Conduct Review Committee if necessary. During the course of the investigation an order can be issued to prohibit the technician in question from performing all or some of their duties as a technician. If the technician is found to have violated the code their certification can be involuntarily suspended or revoked and they can be made ineligible for re-certification. Less extreme sanctions include public reprimands, requirements to cease from certain activities, private reprimand and censure, certification probation and temporary suspension of certification. Some case decisions can be appealed if certain criteria are met.
Additional Skills to Boost Your Career as a Pharmacy Technician
The role of pharmacy technician is expected to play an increasingly important role in several various health care employment settings throughout the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for pharmacy technicians is expected to increase a whopping 25 percent over the decade, which is far better than most other occupations. As a pharmacy technician, you can expect to help prepare medications, count tablets, label bottles, provide quality customer service and perform administrative duties. You really must adjust on a day-to-day basis based on the needs of the pharmacist. While formal training and certification is not required to work as a pharmacy technicians and most training is received informally on-the-job, there are steps you can take to acquire additional skills to make you a more attractive job candidate.
It may be in your best interest, especially if you are not a confident speaker, to take a communications course at a community college. In any job in the health care field, workers will have to interact extensively and educate patients or customers. Working as a pharmacy technician is no exception. You will have to interact with and educate customers on a routine basis. You should answer questions that customers may have to the best of your ability and if you are unsure of anything, you should direct them to the primary pharmacist. It is important that you are confident in these interactions and a communications course may help you tremendously. It is also an excellent idea to complete a computer course that will help you develop or sharpen your skills in Microsoft Excel. You can expect to have some administrative duties as a pharmacy technician and completing such a course will make you a more attractive candidate to prospective employers.
If you are interested in working as a pharmacy technician, you may find it in your best interest to take some courses at a community college to acquire skills that will make you a more attractive job candidate to prospective employers. You should consider taking a communications course to boost your confidence in speaking, which will help in your interactions with patients. You should also consider taking a computer course, which will help in terms of the administrative duties of the job.
Starting Pharmacy Technician Salary Levels
Are you intrigued by the idea of pursuing a rewarding career in a highly robust field in health care? Do you enjoy working in a fast-paced and highly interactive environment that will require you to multitask? You may seriously want to consider a career as a pharmacy technician. Even given the economic challenges and uncertainties that the nation faces, job prospects are expected to be excellent for pharmacy technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for pharmacy technicians is expected to expand a whopping 25 percent over the coming decade. What is fueling this growth in employment? The fact that the aging members of the baby boom generation will require significant medical care and attention over the coming years, which means a greater need for prescription medications, has much to do with it. Pharmacists need pharmacy technicians to help prepare prescriptions for customers. If you are seriously considering a career as a pharmacy technician, you will surely be interested in understanding starting salary levels.
According to the American Medical Association, the average starting salary for pharmacy technicians is $19,000 per year. While formal training through an accredited pharmacy technician training program and certification is not necessary to work as a pharmacy technician, these credentials can boost the starting salary mark to $25,000 per year. Prospective employers will absolutely prefer potential job candidates who have formal training and certification credentials on their record. After on-the-job experience has been acquired, pharmacy technicians can expect a salary of around $30,000 per year. There are cases where pharmacy technicians who have 10 years of experience earn $40,000 per year. You may choose to pursue a career as primary pharmacists after you gain experience working as a pharmacy technician.
If you are interested in working as a pharmacy technician, you will surely be interested in understanding starting salary levels. If you have completed formal training and earned certification, you can expect to make significantly more than those who have not. Prospective employers will favor such job candidates who have proven themselves. You can command a higher salary after you have gained experience on-the-job for some years. You may choose to pursue a career as a pharmacist after gaining experience as a pharmacy technician for some time.
How Much Do Pharmacy Technicians Make?
If you’re considering a career as a pharmacy technician, then one of the questions on your mind is how much do pharmacy technicians make? The answer to that question depends on several factors such as the level of training, experience, job location and more. The average wage for a pharmacy technician is about $14 an hour, however entry level pharmacy techs may earn $8 to $10 an hour. On the other hand, an experienced pharmacy technician can earn up to $18 to $20 an hour. As of July, 2011 the average annual salary of pharmacy technicians was 34,000.
Becoming a pharmacy technician can be a promising career since there is an increasing number of middle-aged and elderly people that must take prescription medication to maintain their health. Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists by taking prescriptions, printing prescription labels and counting pills. The pharmacy technician field continues to grow rapidly and employers look for people who are responsible to fill the positions. Although a person may be hired for the job of pharmacy technician and be trained on the job, a person with professional training may stand a better chance of being hired.
There are no national standards for pharmacy technicians however, formal training makes an applicant more desirable in this field as well as any other. Applicants must have a high school diploma or general equivalent (GED). Due to the nature of the work, which involves handling medication, an individual interested in this position must not have any drug related offenses. Most states require that pharmacy technicians become registered with the State Board of Pharmacy. Requirements for registration may vary from state to state but a high school diploma is needed and there may be an application fee. Although certification is not required in most states, it is desirable. Certification can be obtained through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board as well as the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.
Pharmacy technicians may in settings other than pharmacies, such as nursing homes and hospitals. Their work schedules often include weekends and holidays. Keep in mind when considering that all important question of how much do pharmacy technicians make, there is potential to earn more. Starting at an entry level earnings of $8 to $10 an hour doesn’t mean that is what you are going to make forever. There are formal training courses in the field of pharmacy technician that may last between 3 to 18 months and offer a certificate or Associates degree upon completion. Formal training along with experience and skill levels can help to increase the potential to maximize your earnings. Now that your question of how much do pharmacy technicians make, has been answered, are you ready to choose a career as a pharmacy technician?
How To Become A Pharmacy Technician
Learning how to become a pharmacy technician in a world that requires increasing numbers of health care professionals is a fantastic option for joining the workforce. As the population ages and pharmaceutical advances are made, technicians play a vital role in the personal health care industry. Though most technicians are employed in retail, there are also opportunities at mail order pharmacies, hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. There is currently no nationally standardized process for becoming a pharmacy technician but there are numerous training and certification programs that increase the likelihood of employment.
One of the training paths that is offered for aspiring pharmacy technicians is through a school. These programs are offered in both online and physical settings. In either case, students learn the necessary technical and scientific aspects to perform in the profession. Some of areas of study in these programs are Medical Terminology, Pharmaceutical Calculations and Techniques, and Ethics and Law of the practice. There are pros and cons for each branch which are largely dependent on what a student can afford in time and money. Online programs offer greater flexibility than traditional programs which allows students to proceed through the material at a pace they are comfortable with. However, these online programs lack the human interaction that is the hallmark of physical institutions. Online programs are also more expensive on average than those found at Community Colleges so prospective students with a limited budget should consider their options wisely. Once the program is completed, students will receive documentation certifying their mastery of the course in the form of a certificate or an associates degree.
Another facet of the process in discovering how to become a Pharmacy Technician is through certification. Certification is not required nationally for employment but it greatly increases one’s attractiveness as a potential employee. Certification in the United States is granted by two different boards, The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. To be eligible to take the tests offered by these boards applicants must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. In preparing for these exams there are numerous self training tools in the form of books and practice tests that will assist the prospect along the way.
The process to becoming a Pharmacy Technician may appear daunting but is ultimately conquerable with the proper use of resources. With the use of the programs and procedures listed above you can surely learn how to become a Pharmacy Technician.
Pharmacy Technician Career Corner: Mastering the Behavioral Interview
In this installment of the Pharmacy Technician Career Corner, we’re going to discuss a few tips for preparing to successfully navigate the behavioral-based job interview. As you’re aware, earning a pharmacy technician salary begins with the job interview. And in the healthcare industry, the behavioral based interview is becoming the standard in front line questioning for prospective job candidates.
So What is Behavioral Interviewing?
For those that aren’t familiar with this style of questioning in a job interview, behavioral interviewing requires that interviewees use actual past examples to give answers to interview questions. Obviously, the best indicator of future job performance is what has actually happened in your prior employment experiences. So, by way of example, the questions tend to begin with “Tell me about a time when” as opposed to “What would you do if”.
We can all easily describe what we would do based on what we think the employer wants to hear, but describing what we have done requires us to dig deeper and think to actually present a concise and relevant answer to an interview question. As stated previously, these types of interview questions are becoming very popular in the health care industry, so when preparing to interview for a pharmacy technician job, you need to be prepared to be able to effectively answer these challenging questions.
So How Do I Prepare for the Behavioral Pharmacy Technician Job Interview?
The single biggest key to effectively preparing for these interviews is practice. If you search online for a list of the most common 100 behavioral interview questions, you’ll find several sources. Take the time to print one up and start to review the questions and think about your answers. You’ll start to notice that there are common themes that run through a list of 100 questions. This means that you can effectively prepare for answering 100 potential questions by thinking through as few as 5 or 6 relevant past experiences that can be shaped to various questions.
Look through the list of questions and think about how you would answer each one using one of your 5 or 6 past work examples. Practicing answering out loud. You might even want to go so far as to video your responses to pick up on any unwanted body language or habits that you need to tone down. I’ve done this before and noticed that during responses I was continually waving my open hands, with my palms facing up, in circles, almost like a wafting motion. Not good, and I wasn’t even aware of how much I was doing it!
Secondly, you need to think through these responses in detail. Many recruiting and career coaches will tell you that one of the biggest ways to fall flat in behavioral interviews is by not giving enough detail to get to the issues which the employer wants you to face. This can be especially critical in pharmacy technician jobs, where errors and customer demands can have significant consequences.
Lastly, don’t memorize your answers to questions when you’re interviewing for pharmacy technician jobs. You want your responses to appear natural and relaxed and not over-practiced.
While the behavioral based interview format can be challenging to prepare for, follow these preparation techniques and you’ll be on your way to earning a pharmacy technician salary in no time.
The Pharmacy Technician Salary Varies Widely by Company
If you’re interested in a career as a pharmacy technician and want to find out more about the pharmacy technician salary you might expect to earn, there is one important fact to keep in mind. The pharmacy technician salary can vary drastically depending on the company which you choose to work for.
There are dozens of salary surveys which have been conducted to gather information on how much pharmacy technicians are earning at different pharmacies. There are some very interesting trends in the data.
In recent years, both CVS and Walgreen’s chains have emerged as competitive employers when it comes to paying pharmacy technicians well. With both chains, a pharmacy technician might expect to earn up to $18 or $19, depending on location. Safeway has also garnered a reputation in recent years as a top paying hourly employer for pharmacy technicians, with wages often topping out at over $18 per hour. Many discount pharmaceutical providers, such as WalMart, have historically paid pharmacists and pharmacy technicians much less, however, this seems to be changing in recent years, with certified pharmacy technicians now earning up to $20 per hour at some WalMart locations.
Working for one of these large employers does have both pros and cons. On one hand, the pharmacy technician salary at a large chain may not be as high as working at a locally-owned drug store chain. However, the benefits associated with employment at these large companies can often be outstanding. They also tend to offer more flexible scheduling and have extended non-traditional and weekend hours, if that sits your desired schedule.
One way to find some middle ground in terms of scouting out mid-sized employers with both good pay and strong benefits is to begin to research some of the managed care consortiums, such as Kaiser Permanente. With this type of health care model, which provides both health care services and plan coverage, these organizations are able to manage their treatment costs very effectively and as such, have historically passed a great deal of these savings on by way of employee wages and benefits. Many employees of companies like this have voiced enthusiasm over how well they are paid and treated within their companies, and the pharmacy technician salary in corporations like these tends to be the highest in the nation.
Learning About Pharmacy Technician Certification
If you’re seriously interested in beginning your career as a pharmacy technician, then finding out how to obtain proper pharmacy technician certification is your first step in the path to this rewarding profession. Proper pharmacy technician certification is required to practice this profession in most states, but it’s often difficult to find out just where to begin. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at how to get started.
The first step in beginning a career as a pharmacy tech is to locate a training program in your area. There are many programs available across the country and these can most often be found through technical schools and vocational colleges, although there are a growing number of professional college chains which offer this degree. These are usually located in major cities, but proper research will allow you to find out what institutions are in your area.
You might also want to research the various online programs which can be attended. These offer much more flexibility and convenience that traditional ground schools by allowing you to complete course work and take exams on your own time from home. Be advised that this type of learning is not for everyone. It requires dedication and a commitment to hold yourself accountable for completing your studies.
The certificate and degree programs which lead to pharmacy technician certification will involve course work in pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, mathematics, and general biology and chemistry. You will also be presented with courses which relate to proper pharmaceutical calculations as well as federal and state laws which relate to the dispensing of prescription medications.
After completing a training program, candidates must then pass a state board certification exam. This is generally offered at the conclusion of most pharmacy tech training programs. It is best to research which types of pharmacy technician certification are required in the state you intend to practice in prior to applying for and enrolling in a training program so that you can begin to prepare for your exams while you are in your course.
Becoming a pharmacy technician can lead to many exciting and rewarding career opportunities. And by holding the proper pharmacy technician certification for your state, you can make yourself an attractive job candidate across many types of health care and pharmacy job environments.
Knowing When to Ask for a Higher Pharmacy Technician Salary
If you’ve been employed as a pharmacy technician for some time, you may be at a point where you are considering asking for a pay increase. Knowing when and how to ask for a boost to your pharmacy technician salary can be difficult. In this article, we’ll take a look at when the time is right to ask for a raise as well as how to do it.
Timing is Everything
As with so many other things, timing is key when considering asking for an increased pharmacy technician salary. If the employer you’re working for is not in a great financial position or jobs and hiring have been scaled back recently at your pharmacy or hospital, then it’s probably not the best time to ask for a pay increase.
Know What You’re Worth
The biggest mistake people make when going into raise negotiations is a lack of preparation in making a case for why they should be paid more. If you have examples of job performances and past work successes that you feel increase your worth to your employer, you need to be bale to bring these experiences up and discuss in detail why you feel that they merit a pay increase.
How to Ask
Most employment and recruiting experts suggest a rather altruistic approach to salary negotiations. This might involve beginning your discussions with explaining your view of the company itself and where it stands before moving on to your own specific situation and requests.
If You’re Turned Down
There are many times in which employees seeking a pay increase are turned down. If this is the case when you present your request for a raise, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is to remain professional at all times. You should never threaten to leave your position if you don’t get the pay increase you were originally after. Additionally, you may want to extend your request for a raise into a request for a formal performance evaluation if you don’t get the salary increase you were after. You might ask something along the lines of “Although I’m disappointed, I would like to receive some overall feedback on my value to the company”.
Asking for a higher pharmacy technician salary might not be easy, but by understanding and following these guidelines, you’ll increase your chances of success.