Pharmacy technicians should advocate for fair pay raises due to their crucial role, expanding skills, and cost-effectiveness over turnover.
In the intricate web of health care, pharmacy technicians stand as essential pillars, ensuring the seamless flow of medications from prescription to patient. Despite our pivotal role, we are the unsung heroes that often find ourselves undervalued and underpaid. It's time to shed light on the indispensable contributions of pharmacy technicians and advocate for a long-overdue raise in our compensation.
Crucial Role in Patient Care
Pharmacy technicians are the linchpins of the pharmaceutical realm. Our responsibilities extend far beyond simply counting pills and organizing shelves. We play a pivotal role in accurately preparing and dispensing medications, meticulously double-checking for dosage accuracy, and managing the revenue cycle through inventory and insurance reimbursements. Our work directly impacts patient safety and well-being, making us the last line of defense against potential medication errors. A raise in pay would be a recognition of the critical role we play in safeguarding patients' health.
Expanding Skillset, Responsibilities, and Professional Development
The landscape of health care is in constant evolution, and pharmacy technicians are evolving right alongside it. Today's pharmacy technicians are equipped with a diverse skillset, including proficiency in advanced technologies, medication compounding, insurance requirements, and point-of-care testing. Notably, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) now offers certificate programs that empower technicians with specialized expertise, such as Medication Therapy Management and Controlled Substances Diversion Prevention.
Furthermore, PTCB's Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) credential recognizes pharmacy technicians who have achieved advanced knowledge and skills through education, training, and experience.1 This expansion of responsibilities and professional recognition underscores the need for a commensurate raise in our compensation.
In an era of rapid technological advancements, pharmacy technicians must constantly update their knowledge and skills to stay relevant. Many pursue certifications, attend workshops, and engage in continuous education to provide the best possible care and invest in ourselves professionally. However, these efforts require both time and financial investment. A higher wage would not only reflect the value of our dedication to self-improvement but also help alleviate the financial burden of ongoing education.
Current Compensation Rates
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most pharmacy technicians in the United States, as of September 2021, earned an average annual salary of approximately $35,250, translating to an average hourly wage of around $16.93.2 However, these figures can vary significantly based on factors such as location, work setting, and experience.
Considering the economic landscape, it's crucial to recognize the interplay between compensation and the cost of living. For instance, in states like California, where pharmacy technicians might earn around $20.88 per hour, the challenge of making ends meet is evident when considering the average cost of living for a 2-person household, which reaches approximately $63,986 per year. Conversely, in states such as West Virginia, where the cost of living for a 2-person household might be around $44,648 per year, pharmacy technicians earning an hourly wage of approximately $14.16 face similar financial constraints.2
This wage disparity can place a strain on pharmacy technicians' ability to afford essential needs, housing, health care, and even professional development. Recognizing the critical role that we play in the health care system, it's imperative to address this compensation gap. Offering a more competitive salary not only acknowledges our expertise and dedication but also ensures that we can lead financially stable lives and contribute effectively to our communities. By striving for fair compensation, we can ensure that pharmacy technicians are not only valued but can also thrive in our vital roles within the health care ecosystem.
Comparison to Similar Professions and Pharmacists
When comparing the compensation of pharmacy technicians to similar health care roles, such as medical or dental assistants, it becomes apparent that pharmacy technicians often receive lower pay despite sharing comparable responsibilities and skillsets. This stark wage disparity can lead pharmacy technicians to consider transitioning to these other professions that offer more competitive compensation, causing a potential loss of experienced and skilled personnel within the field.
Additionally, in comparison to pharmacists who have more extensive education and training, the pay disparity is even more pronounced. The average annual salary for pharmacists in the United States is significantly higher, often exceeding $120,000.2 This stark contrast raises questions about the fairness of the current compensation structure, given the pivotal role pharmacy technicians play in supporting pharmacists and ensuring patients receive proper medication management. Addressing this wage discrepancy is essential to retaining and attracting the best talent in the field and preventing a brain drain towards better-paying alternatives.
The Cost-Effectiveness of Employee Raises
Investing in the pay raises of pharmacy technicians is not just an ethical decision; it's a financially prudent one. Replacing skilled and experienced employees can incur substantial costs in terms of recruitment, onboarding, and training. Pharmacy technicians often hold intricate knowledge of the organization's systems, protocols, and workflows, making their departure a loss of institutional memory. Moreover, the time and resources invested in training new hires can impact productivity, potentially disrupting workflow and leading to errors during the transition period.
On the other hand, providing competitive compensation for pharmacy technicians fosters loyalty and reduces turnover. When employees feel valued and adequately compensated, they are more likely to stay with the organization, contributing their experience and skills consistently over time. This not only maintains operational stability but also leads to improved patient care, as experienced pharmacy technicians can perform their duties with efficiency and precision.3
It's high time we acknowledge the tireless efforts of pharmacy technicians and reward our invaluable contributions with well-deserved pay raises. Our essential role in patient care, expanding skillset, adept navigation of a demanding work environment, dedication to continuous professional development, and remarkable impact on the patient-technician interaction all underscore the pressing need for equitable compensation.
Importantly, recognizing the financial wisdom of investing in employee raises over absorbing the costs of turnover, we can create a win-win scenario. By investing in the advancement of pharmacy technicians' remuneration, we not only validate our unwavering commitment but also secure the ongoing provision of safe and effective health care services to our communities. As we advocate for elevating pharmacy technicians, let us recognize and affirm ourselves as the indispensable health care professionals we truly are.
1. Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv). https://www.ptcb.org/certification/cpht-adv
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Pharmacy Technicians. Last modified September 8, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm
2. Torpey, E. On-the-job training costs vs. pay and benefits. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2021/article/on-the-job-training-costs.htm