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Because pharmacy technicians handle medications and money, honesty and appropriate behavior are essential. Pharmacy technicians are support staff in hospital and community pharmacies. In addition to serving customers and patients, they may dispense medications under the supervision of a pharmacist. The rules that cover their training and practice usually differ from state to state.
About Pharmacy Technicians
Many pharmacy technicians get their training on the job, although some states require completion of a program in pharmacy technology. Pharmacy technology programs typically last about one year and are available from community colleges, technical-vocational skills and some universities. Courses usually cover subjects such as math, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, pharmacology and ways of dispensing medications. Some states also require certification or require the candidate to pass an exam or take continuing education classes. A few states, such as Oregon, require a license. Technicians must be supervised by a licensed pharmacist.
A background check may disqualify you from this field. During the process of handling medications for dispensing to the patient, you may have the opportunity to divert, or steal, medications. If you have a history of drug-related offenses, for example, you may not be able to get into a training program. Pharmacies are much more likely to perform background checks than they once were, according to “U.S. Pharmacist.” A background check could include research into criminal activity, driving offenses such as a DUI, evidence of fraud or even a credit check.
In addition to background checks, your prospective employer might contact previous employers or -- if you are a recent graduate -- your instructors. The employer may also verify that you did in fact attend and graduate from a program or ask for evidence of certification. Some pharmacies will also check databases of registered sex offenders and incarceration records to determine your moral character. If you falsify any of this information or lie about it on your application or in an interview, you are unlikely to get the job. Performance is another issue. If you cannot perform mathematical calculations, for example, you are unlikely to succeed in this job.
Some states may have specific requirements for pharmacy technicians; if you don’t meet the requirements, you may be disqualified. In New Hampshire, you must be at least 18 years old, be of good moral character and cannot have been convicted of a drug-related felony. In Virginia, you must pass an exam and cannot re-certify unless you complete continuing education requirements. Pharmacy technicians in Kansas must score at least 75 percent on an exam administered by the pharmacist in charge. In Oregon, you must become certified within one year of initial licensure or by your 19th birthday.
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Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.