The job description for pharmacy technicians working in a large 500-bed teaching hospital is very similar in many ways to that of retail technicians. Under the watchful eyes of Pharmacists, technicians are entrusted with the tasks of providing excellent customer service and ensuring that customers and patients receive the correct medications ordered for them. They strive to do this in the most efficient manner possible and with great attention to detail. Additionally, Pharmacy tech job descriptions typically want employees to be team players and people oriented. Having good organizational and problem solving skills will also serve you well as a Pharmacy tech. Of course, a good sense of humor is probably the most important asset you can have to succeed in this field.
What do Hospital Pharmacy Technicians Do in a Typical Day?
The following are some of the job responsibilities Pharmacy techs are expected to complete during a typical eight hour shift:
- assist Pharmacists with computer order entry, medication filling and distribution of completed orders to inpatients and soon to be discharged patients;
- answer and screen phone calls for the Pharmacist(s);
- pull medications from the shelves for the Pyxis refill and deliver these to the various med stations and intensive care units;
- staff the various satellite pharmacies of which there are six. Help in the training and orientation of other pharmacy technicians and residents who will rotate through the satellites. Working the oncology unit will require techs to compound first dose IV antibiotics and electrolytes. The tech assigned to work the Pediatric satellite will be responsible for compounding first dose oral antibiotics as new orders arrive. Techs are also responsible for maintaining drug inventory and supplies for the satellite. In addition, techs will often be asked to look for patient specific medications/IVs that were sent up by the main pharmacy but according to the nurses have somehow mysteriously disappeared. Most technicians should perfect this skill early on in their careers, as it is the one of many all RNs seem to appreciate the most.
- print out various daily reports and use these to restock medications below par in various areas of the pharmacy including satellite pharmacies and Pyxis med stations;
- compound or repackage medications for inpatient prescriptions, including topical, ophthalmic, intrathecals, Pediatric oral and IV doses, and chemotherapy. Maintain accurate records on products compounded and prepare appropriate labels;
- trouble-shoot various mechanical issues with drug distribution machines (Pyxis and Omnicell) and chase down the delivery robot;
- accurately fill departmental requisitions, crash cart medication trays and surgical narcotic boxes;
- provide for the maintenance of drug inventory which can include ordering drugs and supplies, verifying deliveries against purchase orders, and restocking shelves;
- rotate stock and check for expired medications and in some cases assist with their accounting, packaging and eventual removal from the pharmacy;
- participate in special projects (usually this is a good thing);
- help in the training of newly hired Pharmacy assistants and volunteers in the Central pharmacy;
- learn many different software systems for inpatient order entry and inventory management;
It’s probably apparent by now that a Pharmacy Technician’s job responsibilities in a hospital pharmacy are many and varied – and this is by no means a complete list. To clarify, there are usually five to six technicians scheduled to work the day shift in just the main pharmacy. Six additional techs are assigned to the various satellite pharmacies. Every technician is assigned very specific tasks to complete during their shift. This makes for a day that goes by very quickly. If you have good organizational skills, work well with others, can prioritize your daily work assignments and complete them on time, you’ll be regarded as a great and indispensable asset to your co-workers and Pharmacists.
Do Hospital Pharmacy Techs Really Earn More than Retail Pharmacy Techs?
If you have any doubts consider this:
In January 1991, the technician of this West coast hospital started at $12.00 an hour after completing a 12-month program that included a 240 hour internship. After nearly ten years of service, this technician was making just shy of $26.00 an hour as a Pharmacy Technician II. The position also came with great benefits including health and retirement – and for the first time, even in spite of the high cost of living for this area, this individual no longer had to live paycheck to paycheck.
Pharmacy Technician job satisfaction comes from knowing that you are participating in the healing process of all who are sick or injured. Patients, who would rather be anywhere else than in a hospital, but are surrounded by people who have chosen to be with them to help them heal.