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Hospital pharmacy technicians fill high-volume prescription orders in hospitals, under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. To become a hospital pharmacy technician, you need a high school degree, earn state certification, if required by the state in which you work and have about two years of relevant work experience. Hospital pharmacy technicians made a median annual salary of $32,400 as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job outlook is predicted to increase by 32 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than the national average of 14 percent for other occupations.
Hospital pharmacy technicians see a high volume of customers, accepting prescriptions, taking information and updating databases. When the customer has insurance, the hospital pharmacy technician ensures the appropriate prior authorizations are in place so the patient receives full benefit coverage. Hospital pharmacy technicians explore cost effective alternatives allowed under the patient's insurance plan, including generic medications. When insurance companies deny authorization, the hospital pharmacy technician researches what can be done to obtain the appropriate authorization.
Filling Patients' Prescriptions
Under the supervision of a pharmacist, a hospital pharmacy technician fills prescriptions by matching the prescription with the correct medication supplies, counting the correct tablets, measuring the correct amounts of liquid medications and packaging and labeling prescriptions. When the prescription requires it, the technician may have to mix or compound the medications, as when they are preparing an ointment. In a hospital, pharmacy technicians tend to see more patients, preparing more complicated compounds and intravenous medications.
Processing Bulk Orders
In a hospital, pharmacy technicians frequently fill multiple dose packages, prepackaging and labeling each unit in preparation for the pharmacist's final review and sign off. A hospital pharmacy technician works independently compounding or batch-preparing medications in bulk. Errors can result in hundreds of dollars of medications being ruined, so attention to detail and accuracy is important. Before distribution, the pharmacy technician completes a quality check, looking for obvious defects and spot checking the final product.
Communicating With Customers
Hospital pharmacy technicians have customer contact when they dispense medications to patients coming into the pharmacy, but they might also make rounds in the hospital dispensing medications. The hospital pharmacy technician is often the first and last pharmacy staff member a patient sees, and they might have a number of questions. If the patient questions are about general matters, such as insurance, pharmacy hours, or number of refills allowed, the hospital pharmacy technician responds directly. If the patient is asking for additional information about his medication or treatment, the hospital pharmacy technician alerts the pharmacist, who addresses the patient's concerns.
2016 Salary Information for Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians earned a median annual salary of $30,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, pharmacy technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,170, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $37,780, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 402,500 people were employed in the U.S. as pharmacy technicians.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacy Technicians
- Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists: Duties Which May be Performed by Registered Pharmacy Technicians in 100+ Bed Texas Health & Hospital Systems
- College of Pharmacy, University of Florida: Institutional Pharmacy
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Pharmacy Technicians
- Career Trend: Pharmacy Technicians
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images