Pharmacy technicians are health professionals who work alongside pharmacists in either community (retail) or hospital pharmacy – assisting patients with their needs and offer advice when it’s needed. The question is – do you have enough pharmacy technician skills?
Pharmacy technicians need, therefore, a diverse range of skills to meet these vital responsibilities. It’s not enough just to pass the PTCB test. Here, we’ve put together the top 7 pharmacy technician skills that every technician has. Some of these skills are personality based, others need to be taught, whereas other skills are learned on the job.
Before we delve into those must-have skills, let’s first review the core responsibilities that pharmacy technicians are required to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
These responsibilities include:
Therefore, pharmacy technicians need to have a diverse skillset – one that centers around attention-to-detail, effective communication, and people skills.
Effective communication is a must-have skill for every pharmacy technician.
There are three strands of communication:
As a pharmacy technician, you come across all three strands daily.
You must communicate in a professional manner that addresses the specific concern at hand.
Communication is also important for conflict resolution. Let’s not forget that conflict can emerge between the patient and their healthcare provider, or between the patient and their insurance provider. Pharmacy technicians are often the broker between both and need to adopt a constructive and mature tone that brings both sides together.
One of the primary responsibilities of the pharmacy technician is their commitment to attention-to-detail. Amongst other things, this means identifying any potential medication error.
Medication errors can prove very damaging. Take expired tetracyclines, for example. In some patients, this can trigger what is known as Fanconi syndrome. Technicians need to be alert and accurately interpret and process prescriptions.
Attention-to-detail is important for stock inventory management, processing insurance claims, and working with computer software. The most successful pharmacy technicians are those who work efficiently, but also effectively and accurately with these different tools.
As with many professions, pharmacy technicians need to work within a team.
In healthcare, teamwork matters. No one healthcare professional goes it alone. Each professional is dependent on at least one other. As such, technicians need to play their role within the team.
This means working with others to assist meeting deadlines; to take directions and to act upon them without delay or hesitation, and to anticipate the work needs of your colleagues and taking the initiative.
To work effectively within a team, members of that team need to surrender their individuality and personal preferences. Instead, the team pools their skillset and aims toward a common goal.
Pharmacy technicians must be adept with this necessary skill.
The best pharmacy technicians are those that evolve with the times.
Let’s face it, the role of the pharmacy technician is expanding – rapidly. Not just the roles and responsibilities, but also the state and federal legislation that waves into view with each passing year.
Pharmacy technicians must be adept at change; to adapt to these evolving trends and legal requirements. Many of these laws relate to entering and processing medicines, whereas other laws focus exclusively on insurance companies.
It’s essential that pharmacy technicians self-improve and commit to continuous professional development to maximize their performance in the pharmacy.
One of the great skills of a pharmacy technician is their ability to handle stress.
Stress management is an absolute must-have skill. Pharmacy technicians are often saddled with an enormously varied workload and are simultaneously expected to deal with members of the public, many of whom can contribute to the stress load.
Technicians must be capable of managing this workload, whilst at the same time ensuring that standards do not slip. No medication errors can be made during this time, nor can any miscommunication take place.
To juggle this varied workload is one of the most challenging skills for the pharmacy technician.
We touched upon this earlier, but one of must-have pharmacy technician skills is the ability to be technologically savvy.
Whether its processing insurance claims or entering patient-prescription details, or even inventory management, technology is always there. Further, much of this technology adapts, too, and the pharmacy technician must be capable of adapting to these technological advances.
This links back to our commentary on continuous professional development. The technology that technicians begin their career with is invariably different than what they use toward the end of their career.
Adaptability to new waves of technology is a must-have skill for every pharmacy technician.
Extemporaneous compounding is one of the daily tasks of every technician.
This refers to the preparation of both sterile and non-sterile products, such as the reconstitution of granular products or preparing IV mixtures. Accuracy is key, but so too is your physical ability to do so.
You may know how accurate a solution should be but measuring that solution should be done carefully and correctly. It’s important that, in the pharmacy setting, technicians do not act carelessly or move in a manner that could be disruptive or potentially damaging.
Remember, pharmacies often contain hazardous materials and technicians should, therefore, always move around the pharmacy with care and diligence.
Here, we’ve reviewed the top 7 pharmacy technician skills that you need to have.
As you prepare for the PTCB exam, always consider the professional approach you intend to foster and grow once you become a qualified member of this healthcare profession. It’s not enough to know the details, you need to act accordingly – building a professional ethos from Day 1, learning from your mistakes and acting accordingly.
To summarize, then, the top 7 skills that all pharmacy technicians have are:
By developing these 7 core skills, there is no reason why you too can become an effective pharmacy technician in the United States.
PTCB Test Prep is the leading online platform that trains pharmacy technicians in the US. Check back to our PTCB blog for more great articles on how to pass the exam and how to grow within this vital healthcare profession.