Expert Discusses Advanced Roles for Pharmacy Technicians


Ryan Burke, PharmD, director of professional affairs at Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, discusses more advanced roles for pharmacy technicians and how they can continue to grow beyond their current roles.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times®, Ryan Burke, PharmD, director of professional affairs at Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, discusses more advanced roles for pharmacy technicians and how they can continue to grow beyond their current roles, which will be covered in a session at the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians Annual Convention 2022.

Q: In general, could you give us an overview of some of the more advanced roles pharmacy technicians have taken on?

Ryan Burke: More advanced roles are not new. We're just talking about them a lot more now, which is great. One of the ones that has been around for decades actually is having pharmacy technicians engaged in product verification. There are about 20 states that allow technicians to engage in product verification in some capacity. In some places, it's very limited. It's only in hospitals, whereas there are some states in recent years, at least, that have expanded product verification to also be allowed in the community setting.

There are plenty of studies that demonstrate the safety. There are plenty of studies that show pharmacy technicians who are trained in product verification can verify do that final check as accurately as pharmacists.

The other one is medication history. There are many health systems that have pharmacy technicians working in the emergency department collecting medication histories from patients. There was actually a study, not all that long ago, that a health system looked at sort of a cost savings associated with having a pharmacy technician engaged in collecting medication history. Based on what they estimate to be the cost of a single medication error, and then comparing that to salary and benefits of a technician working in that emergency department. They found they could actually save the health system more than a million dollars a year by having a technician trained and working in that role.

There are plenty of others right there. technicians who work in procurement and inventory management, billing, point-of-care testing, immunizations is obviously a really big one. So there are plenty of opportunities out there, and I think it's great that we are we're talking about these advanced roles more and more.

Q: What are some opportunities where technicians can continue to grow beyond their current roles?

Ryan Burke: There are a few things that I can mention here. One is to find opportunities to get involved, so you can learn about all the potential career paths that are out there for a technician. That might mean joining some sort of organization, whether it be at the state level or the national level. Maybe it means attending a conference, going to continuing education programs. There are also lots of organizations that provide advanced training and professional development opportunities.

Here at PTCB, we've been really focused on creating advanced and specialized credentials for pharmacy technicians in various areas of practice. We now have more than 10 credentials for pharmacy technicians who have specialized knowledge and things like regulatory compliance, supply chain management is coming very soon, immunization, administration, billing, and reimbursement, just to name a few, and we expect these to continue to grow.

We also have almost 1000 pharmacy technicians who have earned our Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician credential, which is great because it shows that there is this population of pharmacy technicians who are looking to advance their careers, who are looking for a way to showcase the knowledge and skills that they have. We really believe that these new credentials provide them with an opportunity to do that.

We also had just in the last few weeks, we've heard from a couple of pharmacy technicians who feel like going through specialized training or advanced training and earning some of these credentials have opened doors for them in terms of their career that they did not think would have been possible without them.

Q: How has the career path of the pharmacy technician evolved with advanced training?

Ryan Burke: I think we are certainly starting to hear from employers and pharmacy technicians that some of the advanced training opportunities, some of the credentials, are beginning to be incorporated into job descriptions and career ladders. Certainly, when we talk about career ladders, aside from the opportunity to advance, often that also comes with an increase in pay, right, which is something that we hear from a lot of pharmacy technicians is very important to them. They also think that in general, just that we have, this population of technicians who have begun to earn these advanced credentials really speaks to the interest that's out there, in terms of pharmacy technicians wanting to advance their careers.

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