Pharmacy assistant training prepares students for a career assisting pharmacists. Jobs are expected to increase 25% by 2018 as an aging population requires more medical care and prescription medications. There are many opportunities for both full and part time employment. Most of these job opportunities will be in pharmacies in retail stores.
Pharmacy technicians assist with the preparation of prescription medications. They read prescriptions and interpret dosages. They count and measure medications. They also assist with administrative tasks like customer service, inventory and stocking, record keeping, and insurance forms. Nursing home employees deliver medications to nurses and physicians, prepare sterile solutions, and maintain detailed patient records. Attention to detail is a must. Mistakes made dispensing medications can cost a patient their health or life.
Formal training is available at community colleges, trade schools, and with military service. Also long distance learning schools provide online classes over the internet. Expect to study for 6 months to a year to earn a certificate. Plan for 2 years of study to earn an associate degree.
There are no nationally set standards but nationally recognized certification is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians. Students must pass a nationally administered certification exam. To maintain their certification, many states and employers require continuing education credits, usually 20 hours over 2 years.
Community colleges are a good choice for those interested in a degree. The course of study may take longer with more general education requirements than a trade school. Trade schools usually cost more but the training is more specific and class schedules may be more flexible. Ask whether you’re studying for a certificate or a degree. Most are nationally accredited and many accept local scholarships or offer financial assistance. Both trade schools and community colleges may offer some online classes for added flexibility.
Online schools are another option. They provide very flexible training at a reasonable cost. Students take courses via the internet so they can work and study at any hour of the day convenient to their schedule. Most online schools provide chat room or other personal one on one assistance. Many offer student loans and job placement assistance. Check for national accreditation and ask if they prepare students for national licensing exams.
Pharmacy assistant training focuses on pharmacology and math; names, uses, dosages and how to measure doses for dispensing prescription medications. They also study record keeping, and health care law and ethics. Some schools offer internships. Because of the access to drugs, most states and employers also require a criminal records check of all technicians. Because both state and local employer requirements vary, it’s best to talk to local pharmacists before choosing and enrolling in a school.