Although on-the-job training usually is provided for pharmacist technicians, technical schools and community colleges offer certificate and associate's degree programs that prepare students to work as pharmacy technicians. A certificate program normally takes less time than an associate's program and prepares students for the career more quickly. Earning an associate's degree can act as a step toward further education in pharmacy or another field. Both types of programs usually include an internship or other form of clinical practice.
Completion of these programs prepares graduates for one of the pharmacist technician certifications available, including those from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Common course topics addressed in pharmacist technician programs include:
- Dosage measurement techniques
- Drug administration
- Drug organization
- Pharmacy practices and operations
- Pharmacy laws and regulations
- Interprofessional communication
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List of Classes
Pharmacist Terminology Course
Students taking this course learn the roots, prefixes and suffixes for common pharmacological terms. They learn the words they'll commonly hear in a pharmacy, along with the correct names for drugs that are used to treat different illnesses. Students learn words that refer to both the medical conditions and the prescribed drugs. They also become familiar with ways to tell what type of drugs are used, whether they are prescription or over-the-counter drugs, simply by their names. Often, courses require that students spell and pronounce the terms correctly.
Interprofessional Relations in the Pharmacy Course
Students in this course learn how to effectively and appropriately communicate with patients, co-workers and healthcare professionals. Emphasis is placed on the areas of non-verbal, interpersonal, listening, interviewing and empathy skills. Ethical patient care is also covered in detail. The course may also provide strategies on how to interact with patients and/or family members in special situations, such as conflict resolution and death or dying. Students then get to use these skills in a practical setting when they complete their internship.
Drug Development and Regulations Course
Students taking this intermediate pharmacist technician course study the legal drug trade. They learn the procedures the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes before allowing drug testing. They also study how the drugs are developed and how testing is conducted. Students learn about where materials are gathered to create drugs and the different types of drugs under development. Typically, this course focuses on over-the-counter drugs, though some may also cover prescription drugs.
This combination lab and lecture course provides students with the ability to classify and identify drugs to determine the types of diseases and problems they will treat. Students learn the various methods for providing them to patients, such as pills or as injections. They also study the side effects of different drugs, particularly when mixed with other drugs. Students examine the main methods for providing drug therapy to different body systems, including the skeletal, muscular and respiratory systems. In the lab, they practice measuring out the proper dosages so they receive the proper treatment.
Sterile Products Course
Pharmacists must make sure that the pharmacy and the tools he or she uses are kept clean to prevent drugs from getting mixed and to prevent errors in individuals' prescriptions. They study techniques for administering and organizing drugs, labeling them so they are concise and so no problems occur. Typical courses on this topic build on the pharmacology course, and students get to work with sample prescriptions, measuring out and providing correct portions.