History of the Pharmacy Technician Profession

Definition of a Pharmacy Technician

Job Description

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A pharmacy technician is a vital member of the healthcare team who works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. They are responsible for assisting pharmacists in various tasks, ensuring the safe and efficient dispensing of medications to patients. The job description of a pharmacy technician includes:

  • Receiving and processing prescription orders from patients or healthcare professionals
  • Counting, measuring, and packaging medications accurately
  • Labeling prescription bottles with appropriate information
  • Preparing intravenous medications, creams, and ointments
  • Maintaining pharmacy inventory and ordering supplies
  • Providing customer service by answering inquiries and addressing concerns
  • Processing insurance claims and handling billing procedures
  • Assisting in the management of medication records and patient profiles
  • Operating and maintaining pharmacy equipment

Education Requirements

To pursue a career as a pharmacy technician, certain education requirements must be met. These requirements vary by state, but generally include:

  1. High School Diploma or Equivalent: Most states require pharmacy technicians to have a high school diploma or GED. It is essential to have a strong foundation in mathematics, science, and communication skills.
  2. Formal Training Program: Completing a formal pharmacy technician training program is highly recommended. These programs are offered by community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals. They typically range from 6 months to 2 years in duration and provide comprehensive education in areas such as pharmacy operations, pharmacology, pharmaceutical calculations, and pharmacy law.
  3. Certification: While certification is not always mandatory, many employers prefer to hire certified pharmacy technicians. The most recognized certification for pharmacy technicians is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) exam. To be eligible for the exam, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a PTCB-recognized training program, and pass a criminal background check. Another certification option is the National Healthcareer Association’s ExCPT exam.
  4. Continuing Education: Pharmacy technicians are required to stay updated with the latest developments in the field. Continuing education programs, such as workshops and seminars, help technicians enhance their knowledge and skills.

It is important to note that some states may have additional requirements or regulations for pharmacy technicians. It is advisable to check with the state board of pharmacy or relevant regulatory authority for specific guidelines.

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Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in the healthcare system by supporting pharmacists in providing safe and effective medication therapy to patients. Their knowledge, skills, and dedication contribute to the overall quality of patient care.

For more information on becoming a pharmacy technician and the career prospects in this field, you can visit authoritative websites such as:

Remember, becoming a pharmacy technician requires dedication, continuous learning, and commitment to patient care. It is a rewarding career choice for those interested in the pharmaceutical field.

II. History of the Profession

A. Early Beginnings

The pharmacy technician profession has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. Let’s explore how it all began.

– Pharmacy technicians can trace their roots back to ancient times when medicine was practiced by apothecaries. These early pharmacists were responsible for preparing and dispensing medications.
– In ancient Egypt, there were records of individuals called “pharmakon” who were skilled in the art of compounding medicines.
– The Greeks and Romans also had a well-established system of pharmacy. They recognized the importance of standardized measurements and quality control in drug preparation.
– During the Middle Ages, pharmacy began to evolve as the practice of medicine became more sophisticated. Monasteries and universities played a crucial role in training individuals in the art of pharmacy.
– In the 17th and 18th centuries, pharmacy started to become more regulated. The first official pharmacy regulations were established in England, requiring individuals to pass examinations and obtain licenses to practice as apothecaries.
– The United States saw the establishment of its first pharmacy school in 1821, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. This marked a turning point for the profession, as formal education became an integral part of becoming a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.

B. Transition to Modern Times

As the field of medicine advanced, so did the role of pharmacy technicians. Here is a glimpse into the transition of the profession to modern times.

– With the advent of industrialization and technological advancements, pharmacy underwent significant changes in the 19th and 20th centuries.
– The introduction of mass production techniques and the development of new drugs necessitated additional support staff in pharmacies.
– During World War II, there was an increased demand for medications. This led to the creation of new roles within pharmacies to help meet the needs of the population.
– In the 1950s, the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists recognized the need for trained individuals to assist pharmacists in hospitals. This gave rise to the role of the pharmacy technician in institutional settings.
– The 1970s witnessed further expansion of pharmacy technician roles, as community pharmacies began to employ technicians to support pharmacists in dispensing medications.
– The profession continued to evolve in response to advancements in technology and changes in healthcare delivery. Today, pharmacy technicians play a vital role in ensuring the safe and efficient delivery of medications.

For more detailed information on the history of pharmacy technicians, you can visit authoritative websites such as:

– American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP): https://www.ashp.org/
– Pharmacy Times: https://www.pharmacytimes.com/

As we move forward, it is essential to appreciate the roots of our profession and acknowledge the contributions of those who came before us. The history of pharmacy technicians reminds us of the importance of continuous learning and adapting to change in this dynamic field.

III. Growth of the Profession

A. Role in Health Care Industry

The pharmacy technician profession has experienced significant growth in recent years, largely due to its crucial role in the ever-expanding health care industry. As the demand for prescription medications and patient care services continues to rise, the need for skilled pharmacy technicians becomes increasingly important.

Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in supporting pharmacists in various health care settings such as retail pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. They assist pharmacists in dispensing medications accurately, ensuring patient safety, and providing valuable information to both patients and other health care professionals.

Here are some key points highlighting the importance of pharmacy technicians in the health care industry:

1. Medication Dispensing: Pharmacy technicians are responsible for accurately measuring, packaging, and labeling prescription medications. They help maintain inventory levels and ensure that patients receive the correct medications and dosages.

2. Patient Care: Pharmacy technicians often interact directly with patients, answering their questions about medications, explaining proper usage, and providing important drug information. They may also assist in managing patient profiles, including medication history and allergies.

3. Prescription Processing: Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in processing prescription orders, verifying insurance coverage, and ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Their attention to detail is essential in preventing medication errors and ensuring patient safety.

4. Compounding and Sterile Preparations: In certain settings, pharmacy technicians may be involved in compounding medications or preparing sterile products such as intravenous (IV) solutions. Their knowledge of aseptic techniques and proper handling procedures is critical in maintaining sterility and preventing contamination.

5. Collaborative Teamwork: Pharmacy technicians work closely with pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals to provide comprehensive patient care. They contribute to the overall efficiency of the pharmacy department by handling administrative tasks, managing workflows, and maintaining accurate records.

B. Expansion of Job Duties and Responsibilities

Over the years, the role of pharmacy technicians has expanded beyond traditional dispensing responsibilities. Technicians are now being entrusted with additional duties and responsibilities that enhance their professional growth and contribute to improved patient outcomes.

Here are some notable areas where pharmacy technicians have seen an expansion of their job duties:

1. Medication Therapy Management (MTM): Pharmacy technicians are increasingly involved in MTM programs, which aim to optimize medication regimens and improve patient adherence. They assist in medication reviews, identifying drug interactions, and providing counseling on proper medication use.

2. Vaccination Administration: In response to the growing need for vaccinations, many states have expanded the scope of practice for pharmacy technicians to include vaccine administration. Technicians undergo specific training to administer vaccines safely and efficiently.

3. Electronic Health Records (EHR) Management: Pharmacy technicians are often responsible for managing electronic health records, documenting patient information accurately, and ensuring compliance with privacy regulations. They play a crucial role in maintaining up-to-date patient profiles and facilitating seamless communication between health care providers.

4. Medication Reconciliation: Pharmacy technicians are involved in medication reconciliation processes, ensuring that patients’ medication lists are accurate and up-to-date during transitions of care. This helps prevent medication errors and improves patient safety during hospital admissions or transfers.

5. Specialty Pharmacy Services: With the rise of specialty medications, pharmacy technicians are increasingly involved in specialty pharmacy services. They assist in coordinating the delivery of complex medications, handling prior authorizations, and providing ongoing support to patients with chronic conditions.

The expansion of job duties and responsibilities for pharmacy technicians highlights their growing importance in the health care industry. It also presents new opportunities for career advancement and professional development within the field.

As the profession continues to evolve, pharmacy technicians must stay updated with the latest advancements, regulations, and best practices through continuing education programs and professional organizations.

For more information on the pharmacy technician profession and related topics, please visit the following authoritative websites:

– American Association of Pharmacy Technicians (AAPT): www.pharmacytechnician.com
– Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB): www.ptcb.org
– National Healthcareer Association (NHA): www.nhanow.com

Remember, pharmacy technicians are an integral part of the health care team, contributing to patient safety and quality care.

Certification and Licensing Requirements

Obtaining the necessary certification and licensing is a crucial step in pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician. These credentials not only validate your knowledge and skills but also enhance your employment prospects in this competitive field. In this section, we will discuss the national exams and accreditation processes that you need to be aware of.

National Exams

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) and the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT) are the two primary national exams recognized by most states for pharmacy technician certification. These exams evaluate your understanding of pharmacy laws, regulations, drug classifications, pharmacy operations, medication safety, and other essential topics.

1. Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE): The PTCE is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). It consists of 90 multiple-choice questions and is designed to assess your knowledge in areas such as medication order entry and fill process, maintaining medication and inventory control systems, pharmacy billing and reimbursement, and pharmacy information systems usage and application.

2. Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT): The ExCPT is offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). This exam covers similar content areas as the PTCE and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

It is important to note that each state has its own requirements regarding which exam(s) they accept for certification. It is advisable to check with your state’s board of pharmacy or regulatory agency to determine which exam(s) you should take.

Accreditation Processes

In addition to passing a national certification exam, some states may require pharmacy technicians to complete an accreditation process before obtaining a license. This process typically involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and meeting certain education and/or training requirements.

One commonly recognized accreditation agency is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). They offer the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) program, which allows technicians to become nationally certified. The PTCB requires candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete a PTCB-recognized education/training program, and pass the PTCE.

Another well-known accreditation agency is the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). They offer the ExCPT certification, which is recognized by several states. The NHA requires candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent, complete an NHA-approved pharmacy technician training program, and pass the ExCPT exam.

It is important to research and understand your state’s specific requirements for certification and licensing. The state board of pharmacy or regulatory agency website is an excellent resource for this information. Here are some helpful links to assist you:

By successfully completing the national exams and any required accreditation processes, you will be on your way to becoming a certified and licensed pharmacy technician. These credentials will not only open doors to various employment opportunities but also ensure that you are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide quality pharmaceutical care.

The Impact of Advances in Technology on Pharmacy Technicians

Technology has revolutionized various industries, and the field of pharmacy is no exception. Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and efficient delivery of medications to patients. As technology continues to advance, it has significantly impacted the role and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians. In this article, we will explore the various ways technology has transformed the pharmacy technician profession.

1. Electronic Health Records (EHR)

One significant technological advancement that has greatly affected pharmacy technicians is the implementation of electronic health records (EHR). EHR systems have replaced traditional paper-based patient charts, allowing for more accurate and streamlined documentation of patient information. Pharmacy technicians now have access to real-time patient data, including medication history, allergies, and drug interactions. This information enhances patient safety by reducing the risk of medication errors and improving communication between healthcare providers.

For more information about EHR systems, you can visit HealthIT.gov.

2. Automated Dispensing Systems

Automated dispensing systems have revolutionized medication dispensing in pharmacies. These systems utilize robotics and computer software to accurately and efficiently dispense medications. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for operating and maintaining these systems, ensuring that medications are properly stocked and ready for dispensing. Automated dispensing systems minimize the risk of human error, enhance medication safety, and improve workflow efficiency.

You can learn more about automated dispensing systems by visiting Pharmacy Times.

3. Telepharmacy

Telepharmacy is a relatively new concept that has gained traction in recent years. It involves the use of technology to provide pharmaceutical care remotely. Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in telepharmacy by assisting pharmacists in conducting medication reviews, patient counseling, and medication order verification via video conferencing or phone calls. This technology allows patients in underserved areas to access necessary pharmacy services and improves medication adherence.

To learn more about telepharmacy, you can visit Pharmacy Times.

4. Pharmacy Management Software

Pharmacy management software has become an integral part of daily operations in modern pharmacies. These software systems help pharmacy technicians manage inventory, track prescription orders, process insurance claims, and perform other administrative tasks efficiently. By automating these processes, pharmacy technicians can focus more on providing direct patient care and improving medication adherence.

For more information about pharmacy management software, you can visit Pharmacy Times.

5. Online Prescription Refills

The convenience of online prescription refills has become increasingly popular among patients. Pharmacy technicians are responsible for processing these refill requests, ensuring accuracy and timely delivery of medications. Online prescription refill systems streamline the refill process, reduce wait times for patients, and allow pharmacy technicians to focus on other important tasks.

You can find more information about online prescription refills at Pharmacy Times.


Advances in technology have significantly impacted the pharmacy technician profession. Electronic health records, automated dispensing systems, telepharmacy, pharmacy management software, and online prescription refills have transformed the way pharmacy technicians work and provide patient care. Embracing these technological advancements is crucial for pharmacy technicians to adapt to the evolving healthcare landscape and ensure the safe and efficient delivery of medications to patients.