CPhT CONNECT™ Magazine - Jan/Feb 2021

There has been a lot of discussion about the pharmacy technician’s roles and responsibilities hap - pening at many state boards of pharmacy over the past several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value that technicians bring to the pharmacy team. As of December 2020, 45 states plus the District of Columbia require pharmacy technicians to be registered or licensed with the state board of pharmacy. Out of these, 22 states require certification, nine of which require maintenance of certification. In addition to boards of pharmacy, employ- ers also play a significant role in encouraging or requiring pharmacy technicians to attain and maintain certification. Twelve states have pharmacy technician representa - tion on boards of pharmacy, and one of these states has two positions designated for technicians. These techni- cian board members can play an important role in helping boards of pharmacy fulfill their mission in protecting the public, while being the voice for pharmacy technicians. Recently, some boards of pharmacy have taken action to increase or eliminate the pharmacist-to-technician ratio. Those in support of increasing or eliminating ratios argue that taking action will assure patients continue to receive the care they need and support pharmacists in non-clinical tasks that may be delegated to a pharmacy tech- nician. Some opponents to increasing or eliminating ratios suggest it could negatively impact the pharmacy work- force. However, pharmacists are in a better position to determine what makes the most sense in their pharmacy. Regulatory Landscape 4-hour training program consisting of a home study and a live model. The home study prepared technicians with the knowl- edge required for topics including preparing, administering, and handling immunizations; it also included a self-assessment. The focus of the live session was to ensure the safe admin- istration of an injection and training on how to appropriately respond in an emergency. At the conclusion of the training pro- gram, technicians were required to demonstrate competency by administering two injections while observed by trainers. The results showed that technicians demonstrated knowledge of how to appropriately and safely administer the immuniza- tion and reported confidence in performing this task. After completion of the pilot program, Idaho became the first state to allow pharmacy technicians to administer immunizations. As of December 2020, six states—Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington—allow pharmacy tech- nicians to administer immunizations. These states have language in their regulations that allow technicians to immu- nize, and many other states are discussing allowing technicians to immunize, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued nationwide guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act authoriz- ing pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns to administer childhood and COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 tests, subject to requirements, in hopes that all of the public is vaccinated. Immunization delivery training programs for pharmacy tech- nicians are emerging, such as those offered by the National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA), American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and CEimpact. These pro- grams, and many more in development, will provide CPhTs with training to safely administer immunizations. PTCB CPhTs who complete a PTCB-recognized education/training pro- gram in immunization are eligible to apply for PTCB’s new Assessment-Based Certificate in Immunization Administration.

Market Demand For Pharmacy Technicians

Furthering Your Career With Ptcb Credentials Pharmacy technicians are currently in very high demand. The need is expected to increase, notably during the COVID-19 pan- demic, and with pharmacies expanding patient care services. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pharmacy technicians are needed to take on a greater role in pharmacy operations because pharmacists are increasingly perform- ing more patient care activities, such as flu shots. States such as California, Texas, and Florida had a high demand for additional technicians, as reported in November 2020. The number of pharmacy technician jobs available in the United States spiked in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pan- demic. According to Burning Glass, a labor market tool, there have been more than 119,000 job postings within the past 12 months for pharmacy technicians throughout the coun- try. The increasing number of job postings is aligned with retail companies announcing they are going to hire addi- tional staff throughout the store and pharmacy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, if you or someone you know is looking to transition their pharmacy career, now is the time. When employers start a hiring process, there are spe- cific baseline and specialized skills they are looking for in a pharmacy technician. Communication skills are one of the highest reported baseline skills requested by employers. Communication in the pharmacy between patients, provid- ers, and staff is continuous and must be timely, effective, and clear. It is so important to alert the staff of anything that might overlap from one shift into another shift. Problem-solving and teamwork are important, as well as computer literacy. The high- est reported specialized skill requested is customer service. The importance of treating patients with respect cannot be overstated, keeping in mind they come to the pharmacy trying to prevent, cure, or mitigate the dis- ease they are experiencing. The bottom line is that employers are looking for pharmacy technicians who have a fundamental knowledge of the pharmacy industry. As pharmacy technicians continue to grow and take on more non-clinical roles within their pharmacy teams, PTCB con- tinues to create and offer certificates and credentials for PTCB CPhTs to distinguish themselves within the phar- macy team, build rewarding careers in healthcare, and strengthen their knowledge in a particular area of health- care. By earning the certificates and certifications offered by PTCB, technicians can work more efficiently with pharma- cists to offer safe and effective patient care and services. The credentials and certificate programs offered by PTCB serve different purposes. Certificate programs evaluate learning outcomes from a PTCB-recognized education/ training program and do not expire, require maintenance, or award an acronym after the name. Certifications assess an individual’s mastery of job knowledge, require continu- ing education (CE), and award an acronym after one’s name.

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