Why Choose a Low-Paying Pharmacy Technician Career?

People choose careers for a variety of reasons: money, fame, or recognition. One would not choose to be a pharmacy technician for the above reasons as the wage is not at all reflective of what individuals in that profession do, and fame and recognition just plain do not exist. People are in awe when I tell them that the IV medications they received at the hospital were not made by pharmacists but rather by pharmacy technicians. They are completely unaware that the majority of individuals working in most pharmacies are pharmacy technicians.

One should not choose a career as a pharmacy technician for the reasons above because they do not exist at this point. Rather, a person chooses to be a pharmacy technician because he or she wants to improve pharmacy practice, has a passion for understanding how drugs work, wants to impact patient care and compliance in order to reduce harm, and want to test-run a pharmacy career before agreeing to hundreds of thousands of dollars in pharmacy school debt.

Improving pharmacy practice is a huge undertaking, and although some pharmacists do not admit it, they need qualified and knowledgeable technicians working for and with them. Without those people, their jobs would be a million times harder. Also, part of improving pharmacy practice is ensuring that the pharmacy functions according to law. Pharmacists need pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technicians need pharmacists to keep them in check; they need to hold each other accountable. Without accountability, pharmacy practice is doomed.

Why should passion for understanding how drugs work be a reason to choose the pharmacy technician career? The human body is amazing, but what is more amazing is how drugs can restore a body’s natural rhythm if it gets out of sync. Imagine billions of tiny organisms known as bacteria attacking your immune system. Just one week of antibiotic therapy takes care of the problem and restores your body’s function to normal. How does that happen? That is where passion for pharmacy comes into play.

Also, I would hope that pharmacy technicians want to impact patient care and compliance. I may not be a pharmacist, but I know how important it is to take one’s medication as prescribed. When a person comes to the pharmacy, a pharmacy technician is the first person he or she sees. When that same person leaves the pharmacy, a pharmacy technician is the last person he or she sees. You, as a pharmacy technician, have a huge opportunity to be sure that the patient knows everything he or she needs to know about the prescription and connect him or her to the pharmacist if there are questions. You also have an opportunity to positively impact someone’s life.

Finally, people become pharmacy technicians to see if they can handle the pharmacy environment and the rigor of such work. Pharmacy school is expensive. Why wait until you are a year from graduating pharmacy school and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before realizing that the pharmacy world is not for you?

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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