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In the United States, pharmacy technician is
a job title to describe a person who works with a licensed pharmacist
to provide medication and other health care products to patients.
Technicians often do the routine tasks associated with preparing
prescribed medication, and the manual labor component of getting
drugs to where patients reside.
Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations.
According to a 2002 United States Department of Labor report,
about two-thirds worked in retail pharmacies, both independently
owned or part of a drugstore, grocery store or mass retailer
chain. An additional 22% of pharmacy technician jobs were in
hospitals, while a small portion worked in mail-order or Internet
pharmacies, clinics, pharmaceutical wholesalers, and the Federal
Responsibilities of a pharmacy technician differ
depending on location. In many operations, they may manage assistants
or do the work of pharmacy aides: answering telephone calls,
handling money, stocking shelves, and computer data entry, among
other odd jobs.
Pharmacy technicians who work in a hospital,
nursing home or assisted-living-type facilities have additional
responsibilities. In many circumstances, they will read patient
charts in conjunction with a prescription, verified by both
a physician and a pharmacist, before preparing and physically
delivering medicine to nurses, who administer it to patients.
Technicians may also be responsible for managing robotic organizational
systems that stock and organize 24-hour supplies of medicine
for every patient in a health care facility. Technicians package
and label each dose of medication separately, either by hand
or with packaging machines. These packages are co-ordinated
with a computer using bar codes, and make it possible to automate
pharmacy-side drug delivery: a package labeled by name, dose
and expiration is cataloged in a computer, before being placed
on a shelf controlled by a robotic arm until it is needed to
be given to a patient. The robot will create small containers
for an individual patient that contain the medicine needed for
a defined time period. Groups of these containers are then organized
by pharmacy technicians and delivered to appropriate locations.
Most pharmacy technicians have only on-the-job
training, but many employers favor those who have completed
a formal training and certification process. This type of training
program is usually offered by the military, some hospitals,
proprietary schools, vocational or technical colleges, and community
colleges. As of 2002, there were no US federal and few state
laws making it mandatory for all technicians employed to meet
this qualifying standard.