Future Job Responsibilities for Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. The roles and requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician vary across states. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is the only accrediting body for pharmacy technician schools. ASHP is advocating for standardized training for pharmacy technicians. As the training programs shift from on the job training to a formal school system, the role of the technicians is expected to expand. There will be more responsibilities and the pharmacist will be able to expand their clinical roles.
For the past few years, community pharmacies have been providing immunizations. It all started with flu shots and now there is a wide variety of vaccines available at community pharmacies. Pharmacist and pharmacy interns who are certified are the only professionals authorized to give vaccinations at pharmacies. It would not be surprising if in the future there is certification for pharmacy technicians to provide immunizations.
Tech-Check-Tech (Quality Assurance)
Tech-check-tech is a program where technicians are allowed under specific protocols to perform final verifications on unit dose medications. Currently nine states have approved this system to be used by institutional pharmacies. This program should hopefully expand to other states and other pharmaceutical settings as well.
Even though most community pharmacies have a blood pressure machine available, most state laws do not allow technicians to check a patient's vital signs. In the future, the roles of pharmacy technicians may expand to include assisting patients with checking their vital signs.
Order Controlled Medications
The role of pharmacy technicians in ordering controlled substances is very limited, especially schedule II controlled substances (C-II). Most states allow technicians to order controlled substances except CII. In the future, the pharmacy technician's role could expand to include ordering of C-II. Technicians will hopefully be able to sign a DEA 222 form to receive CII orders as well.
Take Phone Prescriptions
Most states do not allow technicians to take phone prescriptions from a doctor’s office. However certain states allow technicians to transfer prescriptions to other pharmacies. This role should hopefully expand and include verbal prescriptions from doctors.
Become Preceptors for Technician Externs
Externship programs are part of the training of pharmacy technicians. Pharmacists serve as preceptor for pharmacy technician externs. With increased emphasis on formal training for technicians, there will be more externs to be trained. In reality externs shadow technicians. Thus there is no reason why certified technicians with experience cannot serve as preceptors to technician externs.
Be more Involved in Long Term Care Facilities
Pharmacies that serve long term care facilities are normally off-site. They offer a closed-door pharmacy, and deliver the medication to the various facilities. Pharmacy technicians generally are involved in the prescription process. In the future, technicians may be able to assist the pharmacist in quarterly or monthly facility review visit.
Be more Involved in Administration
Pharmacy technicians in institutional facilities sometimes serve on committees. This role should hopefully expand to other settings. Lead technicians may assist or serve on Pharmacy and Therapeutic (P&T) Committee since they are involved with medication inventory.
Pharmacy technicians can perform many routine pharmacy duties after receiving the right credentials. Pharmacists should embrace the expansion of technician roles since this will allow them more time to focus on patient-centered activities such as counseling and medication reconciliation. Technicians should note that the increase in responsibility comes with increase in liability. They will be responsible for their own actions and subject to malpractice proceedings.
Adam A J et al, 2011. A review of the evidence on its safety and benefits. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy October 1, 2011 vol. 68 no. 191824-1833
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