As pharmacy technicians, we play a vital role in pharmacy. In a field that is constantly changing, with many new variables, what does a career path look like for a technician wanting to advance?
After working in pharmacy for 20 years, I find that this question is still being asked. As technicians, we experience many different challenges but are not often presented with similar, challenging career opportunities. However, we are seeing many new career avenues become available for technicians around the country.
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After many years, I have had the absolute privilege of working and gaining experience in almost every sector of pharmacy imaginable. I got my start in 2001 by working in a retail pharmacy on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where I was lucky to have incredible leaders. As I moved through my career, I had the opportunity to work at a specialty pharmacy, CuraScript SD, before moving to Express Scripts, where I received a promotion to be on a team of supervisors. When my time with Express Scripts ended, I moved into a hazardous compounding role at Mid Florida Hematology and Oncology Centers. In this role, I was introduced to intravenous compounding, physician dispensing, order verification, tech-check-tech, and leadership responsibilities. I gained such great experiences that I view this as the true start to my career, rather than simply having a job. The trust and responsibility that the physicians afforded technicians were astounding and showed me that within our role, we can achieve much more than we often believe.
I was saddened to leave Mid Florida Hematology and Oncology, but the leadership at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville introduced me to even more career options for technicians. I became familiar with professional societies and their work across the pharmacy industry.
Currently, I hold the position of pharmacy operations manager at Walgreens. I am also the past chair of the Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists Pharmacy Technician Council and a member of the Florida Pharmacy Association’s Governmental Affairs Council. I am now in a position to mentor other pharmacy technicians to encourage them to get more involved, look at ways to advance their careers, and take ownership of their future in pharmacy.
This article was submitted in partnership with NHA. NHA is building the next generation of allied health professionals. Since 1989, we have helped over 1.25 million people access a better future in healthcare. From innovative learning solutions to certification and career development, we partner with individuals, educators and employers to elevate the learning experience, ensure practice and career readiness and drive positive outcomes for the industry, allied health professionals, and ultimately patients.
Some of the key challenges facing pharmacy technicians include career mobility, management opportunities, professional societies’ acceptance, new advanced certifications, and a need for further education. Today, many companies recognize the need for advancement with pharmacy technicians. The problem, however, is that many companies find it difficult to distinguish between a person simply doing a job and a pharmacy technician who is dedicated to pharmacy as their career. Companies have found that as the pharmacy world evolves and the role of pharmacists expands, they must adapt. To do this, they must create a pathway of growth for pharmacy technicians.
For example, Walgreens now provides pharmacy technicians the opportunity to become a lead technician (currently known as a senior technician). In addition, technicians can move into the role of pharmacy operations manager, which was previously only held by pharmacists. Technicians can become managers not only in the pharmacy, but also across the whole store, with the ability to become a district manager over multiple store locations.1 For pharmacy technicians, this is a huge step in a positive direction for career advancement.
This is just 1 example of the great ways technicians’ career opportunities are expanding. As the pharmacy industry continues to evolve, more opportunities will become available for pharmacy technicians to further themselves and grow within the profession.
This article was sourced by National Healthcareer Association.
About the Author
Anessia Ellerson, BS, CPhT-ADV, CSPT, is pharmacy operations manager at Walgreens in Jacksonville, Florida. She is also past chair of the Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacies Pharmacy Technician Council and a member of the Florida Pharmacy Association's Governmental Affairs Council.
1. Career development. Walgreens. Accessed October 3, 2023. https://jobs.walgreens.com/en/career-development#grid-content-3-3