Overview of Certification Programs for a Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technician certification programs are offered by various institutes in the US that follow different structures, hence the length of the course may differ accordingly; however it can range anywhere between 12 – 16 weeks. In principle, the course prepares a potential pharmacist to fulfill all the responsibilities in any pharmacy practice setting and to take the pharmacy technician certification board exam. Upon completion, the candidate is adequately equipped for an entry level position in the form of a pharmacy technician in both, institutional and retail settings. The practical work experience component offered as part of some courses helps candidates better prepare for the role of a full time pharmacy technician in future.

Course Offerings and Enrollment

Specific pharmacy technician certificate course offered may consist of a combination of 84 hours of classroom based learning and 120 hours of internship in a local pharmacy, while the students are expected to complete the course in less than six months. As part of formal recognition, students who complete the course successfully are awarded the certificate of completion by the pharmacy development center. Students may register for the course on the pharmacy development center website. Moreover, registration may take place until the first day of class; however this is contingent upon the number of places remaining.

Class Composition and Learning Outcomes

An attractive feature of pharmacy technician certificate programs is the small number of participants each enrollment period which helps maximize per head attention with an excellent teacher/student ratio, hence there is greater learning support for students. Some institutes might not offer online delivery options; however classes might be conducted on evenings and weekends in order to add an element of flexibility to the course.

As part of broader learning outcomes, students learn to:

  • Prepare prescription orders under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist;
  • Comply with federal and state regulatory agency regulations and laws; and
  • Perform all relevant pharmacy calculations.

The subject matter or course content specifically covers:

  • Anatomy and physiology;
  • Employment strategies;
  • Pharmacy law and ethics;
  • Medical terminology;
  • Drug classifications; and
  • Basic pharmacology.

Rationale of the Qualification and Eligibility Criteria

Pharmacy technician certificate programs and exams evaluate the candidate’s competencies required to perform the work of a pharmacy technician. The qualification and course content is regularly reviewed and developed by a team of expert pharmacists who have varying experiences in different settings and geographical areas. It must be noted that most states require candidates to be registered with the pharmacy technician certification board after registering to work as a pharmacy technician.

In terms of eligibility criteria for the qualification:

  • There may not be any college degree or prerequisite courses required to enroll for the course;
  • A high school diploma may be deemed to be sufficient;
  • On the contrary, knowledge of basic algebra,
  • Basic computer skills; and
  • The ability to commit to a demanding study pattern is highly desirable.

The cost of the course offered by various institutes generally includes textbooks and materials, background check, tuition and associated fees for lab study and lectures and an internship placement in the local pharmacy, if applicable. There may be payment plans available to accommodate as many students as possible.

Practical Experience and Background Checks

Students may not required to make arrangements for the internship themselves since it is offered as an integral part of the course and instructors may make visits to track the candidates progress during the internship. It must be noted, that the internship might be an unpaid one, unless they get hired as a pharmacy technician. Finally, a background check is conducted to make sure that no applicant convicted of drug related crime is admitted to the course, as stated by the state pharmacy board. In addition, background checks also facilitate an effective check of the eligibility of an applicant.

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