What Would Be Taught in a Pharmacy Technician Course?

Many people want to know what pharmacy technician training involves before deciding whether to enroll in a course or program. The curriculum depends on the institution, the textbook used, the instructor who teaches it, and the state in which you wish to practice. However, each class will have a few concepts in common:

  1. Pharmacology
  2. Pharmacy Calculations
  3. Pharmacy Law
  4. Compounding (Sterile and Nonsterile)
  5. Pharmacy Practice

Pharmacology

Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how those drugs affect the human body. When studying drugs, people in the pharmacy world often refer to the drugs’ ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) processes. Those who study pharmacology need to have a basic background of anatomy (the study of a structure) and physiology (the study of how a structure works). This is so that when ADME processes of the drug are mentioned, a person will be able to understand what the person is referring to.

Pharmacy Calculations

Pharmacy calculations section involves learning about the math that is involved in calculating quantities of medications dispensed and added to various dosing systems. This is an important part of pharmacy practice as patient safety relies on accurate calculation of his or her medication. Topics covered include but are not limited to calculating prescription quantities (everything from written prescriptions to IV medication orders), day supply, and conversions between various systems of measurement (metric, household, apothecary, and avoirdupois). This area of study also includes math that is used in running the pharmacy that is often referred to as business math.

Pharmacy Law

This part of the curriculum is just as important, if not more important, than math. Pharmacy practice relies on federal and state laws. In order to be in compliance with the law, a person has to know the law. In order to know the law, the person has to learn the law. In addition to ensuring patient safety, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians make sure that the laws are being followed when prescribers write prescriptions or medication orders.

Compounding

Compounding refers to mixing of two or more ingredients to create a product different than the original, individual products. Sterile compounding refers to mixing of various IV products and eye solutions, whereas non-sterile compounding refers to mixing of products that are used in ways other than the intravenous or the ophthalmic (eye) route.

Pharmacy Practice

This area of the curriculum may vary but includes the dispensing processes for medications in various pharmacy settings as each setting has different requirements and or processes in place in how the medication gets from the pharmacy to the patient. This section may also include insurance billing, which is a huge part of pharmacy practice in retail settings as technicians are oftentimes the insurance billing experts. This section also addresses workflow as it pertains to various pharmacy settings to ensure that the product is prepared and delivered to a patient in a reasonable amount of time.

As one can probably see, the curriculum is extensive and covers a broad range of topics. The more you can learn, the better off you will be. I wish you all the best in your journey.

Elina works full-time at Southeast Community College, running an ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician program, and works part-time for the Arts and Sciences division.
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