If you want to enjoy a rewarding career in healthcare with opportunity for advancement, you should think about working as a pharmacy technician. According to the Department of Labor, there will be nearly 10% job growth for pharmacy technician jobs by 2024, which is faster than average.
More and more people are going to need prescription drugs, due to the US population living longer than ever. Also, new healthcare legislation at the federal level has increased health insurance availability for millions of Americans. This means more people going to doctors’ offices and getting prescriptions too.
There are many different amazing places that pharmacy techs can work. Here are 4 of them.
Retail Pharmacies, Such As CVS or Walgreens
Retail pharmacies is still where the majority of pharmacy technicians work. At a retail pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens you will do most of the following:
- Collect information that the pharmacist needs to fill prescriptions from either healthcare professionals or regular customers.
- Measure how much of medications are needed for many prescriptions
- Prepare packaging and labeling for prescriptions
- Work on organization of drug inventory and tell pharmacists if there is anything running out
- Process insurance claims and run the cash register
- Check if prescriptions are ready by hand and in database
- Enter patient or customer information into the retail chain database
- Talk to customers by phone
- Fill prescriptions by working with customers at the drive through
- Set up times for the pharmacist to talk to patients if they have any detailed questions about the drugs
As in all pharmacies, retail pharmacist techs must work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists. All prescriptions have to be reviewed by the pharmacist before they are given to customers. In many states, you will be able to compound or mix some drugs and call doctors to get prescriptions refilled. Techs in most states also will run automated dispensing equipment in a retail pharmacy.
If you are going to work in retail pharmacy, it is most likely that you will work for either CVS or Walgreens.
CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States. Here are some interesting facts about CVS pharmacies generally:
- There are more than 9600 CVS retail pharmacies in the US
- CVS does more than 10,000,000 counseling interventions about prescription drugs each year.
- More than 1.9 billion prescriptions are filled by CVS each year.
- More than five million customers are served each day.
- CVS has more than 1100 MinuteClinics throughout the US. This is where patients can get many common, minor health care needs taken care of, such as getting checked for infections and minor illnesses.
- There are more than 31,000,000 MinuteClinic patient visits each year. The use of MinuteClinics has an effect on pharmacist tech jobs because the higher number of patients that come into CVS means more prescriptions being filled.
- There are more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists around the country.
Walgreens is also very large and is the second largest retail pharmacy chain in the US. It currently has more than 8,000 stores in all 50 states. One of the things that Walgreens states that makes it stand out is that Walgreens stores are located within 5 miles of 75% of the US.
Walgreen also works with more than eight million customers every day, and many of those customers naturally use the pharmacy. Regarding the pharmacy specifically, Walgreens states that they offer convenient access to many types of vital healthcare services, such as immunizations and health tests. All of these can be had every day by people just walking in. This increases the number of people who use the pharmacy to fill prescriptions.
Walgreens also is adding stores that have health consultation rooms. This means more customers coming to Walgreens to get their healthcare needs addressed and again, more people using the pharmacy.
Both CVS and Walgreens are amazing places to work for pharmacy technicians.
The other major area where pharmacy techs work is hospitals pharmacies. While this type of pharmacy does not employ nearly as many people as retail pharmacies, this type of employment is growing in recent years.
For example, it has been reported in health care media that a drive to increase improvements in health care is causing hospitals to create new hospital pharmacies and to improve the number of services that they offer to patients.
Experts say that a type of ‘retail’ pharmacy that is based on a hospital campus and is operated by the hospital can provide a better ‘continuum of care’ for millions of patients.
One of the big advantages of a hospital operating pharmacies is that research indicates that more than 50% of prescription errors happen when care is transitioned to another care provider. For example, many drug errors occur when a patient’s prescription information is sent to a standard retail pharmacy.
One major hospital in Rhode Island opened a pharmacy on its hospital campus in 2013 and has had outstanding results. Doing this provides pharmacists with full access to each patient’s hospital record, inpatient drugs, lab and microbiology test results, doctors’ notes and interventions by the pharmacy.
Further, this type of pharmacy allows the pharmacist and pharmacy techs to talk with doctors, nurses and other health care professionals before patients ever leave the hospital. Patients also can get the drugs they need before even leaving the hospital. It’s much more convenient for patients.
Another big benefit: Having the pharmacy at the hospital ensures that patients are actually having prescriptions filled.
All of the above benefits make hospital pharmacies growing in popularity, and will lead to an increase in work for pharmacy technicians and pharmacists.
Health Care Companies
While most pharmacy technicians work for retail or hospitals, there also are such positions available for health care companies, most of which are located in many major US cities. The job requirements and duties are the same as any pharmacy, but this is a bit of a different take on pharmacy tech work.
Working in a healthcare company as a pharmacy technician also can result in working in other areas of the health care company.
Mail Order Pharmacies
And the other amazing place for a pharmacy technician to work is a mail order pharmacy. They also are available in many major US cities. These types of pharmacies are growing rapidly because mail order pharmacies are more efficient and cost effective in many healthcare situations. In fact,
Major mail order pharmacies that are nationally known include ExpressScripts and Medco.