Do you want to be a pharmacist?
If you do, have you thought about graduating a pharmacy tech program and then working as a pharmacy technician, before going to pharmacy school?
There are valid reasons you should give this alternative career pathway serious thought.
Your Pharmacy Technician Experience Will Better Prepare You for Being a Pharmacist Student
After graduating a pharmacy tech program, most new pharmacy technicians begin their career working in retail pharmacies, either at chain drugstores (Walgreens and CVS), grocery stores (Safeway), mass-merchandisers (Wal-Mart and Costco), or independent drug stores.
As a retail pharmacy technician you’ll quickly get a realistic view of what it’s like to work in a busy pharmacy, particularly on Mondays, Fridays, and during weekday morning and lunchtime rushes. These are the times when many customers choose to pick up or drop off prescriptions.
How many prescriptions?
To give you an idea, The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that California pharmacies filled 458,688,444 retail prescriptions in 2015. Expect for your retail pharmacy to handle its fair share of this huge prescription number.
Pharmacy technician experience can benefit a person wishing to train to be a pharmacist, the major benefit being the pharmacist student’s advantage in relating actual events and situations experienced while working as a pharmacy technician.
Pharmacy Technician Work Will Give You Insight into What It’s like to Work as a Pharmacist
The Department for Professional Employees reports there were 282,000 pharmacists and 397,430 pharmacy technicians employed in the United States in 2015.
A pharmacist and pharmacy technician must work together to ensure a pharmacy’s smooth running and profitability.
As a retail pharmacy technician you’ll be working under the supervision of a pharmacist. In fact, your work will include many of the duties also performed by a pharmacist.
These duties include:
- Greeting patients and healthcare providers in person and over the phone; answering customer questions and inquiries
- Managing pharmaceutical inventory; placing and expediting medication orders; removing outdated drugs from the pharmacy
- Reading medication orders and prescriptions; preparing labels
- Calculating medication quantities; assembling intravenous solutions and other pharmaceutical recipes
- Preparing pharmacy reports
- Recording and filing physicians’ orders and prescriptions
Performing these duties, you’ll get a glimpse of what it would be like to be employed as a pharmacist, and you’ll be able to confirm whether or not a pharmacist career is truly the right career for you.
It’s important information to know before committing to 4-year pharmacy school.
Pharmacy Technician Experience Will Improve Your Pharmacy School Application
While pharmacy technician experience can’t guarantee you entry into pharmacy school, the experience can only improve your application.
- Your interview
References are powerful things when it comes to getting a job and getting into some educational institutions, such as pharmacy school.
Pharmacy school staff will want to know your worth as a prospective student.
Think for a moment how a reference from a pharmacist elaborating upon your pharmacy technician experience, your attitude and behavior while working with colleagues and customers, and your achievements during your time at the pharmacy, would add weight to your application.
If an actual pharmacist is supporting your candidacy, it highlights your potential as a pharmacist yourself.
One of the first questions in any interview is: Tell me about yourself.
If you’re able to answer this question by talking about how you graduated a pharmacy tech program, completed an externship, and worked as a pharmacy technician, you’re immediately showing the pharmacy school interviewer you have a commitment to the pharmacy profession, the ability to graduate a training program, and that you have relevant working experience that would benefit you during pharmacist training.
As a former pharmacy tech program graduate, you would have come a long way in showing you can handle the demands of pharmacy school.
What’s best for you?
As there is more than one way to make a bed, there is more than one way to reach any career goal. This is true when it comes to wanting to be a pharmacist.
You could enroll in pharmacy school without ever having worked as a pharmacy technician.
The question is: Would that be the best way for you?
Or do you see the benefits of taking a different road?
If you do, then enrolling in a pharmacy tech program is a wide and open road for you to take.
BAMA is proud to partner with Walgreens to provide students with a 240-hour, on-the-job
clinical pharmacy technician externship at one of the largest drugstore chains in the US.