Pharmacy Technicians Discuss Different Continuing Education Requirements Across the World

In a panel, pharmacy technicians across the world discuss the different continuing educations requirements in United States, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

Q: What kind of continuing education is needed to help meet these growing responsibilities?

João José Joaquim: We are looking for that, and we are looking also for the certification for some tasks, and continuous development [is] very important. The immunization is one of the examples, we prepare because we don't have the competencies and the knowledge during the graduation about the topic. We have a special course for immunization in community pharmacies for our professionals. We have also a master’s here in Portugal. We are looking also for the questions linked with the safety of the patients. We have a master’s in applied pharmacotherapy with advanced topics in pharmacotherapy in pharmacology, drug safety, pharmacovigilance, medication errors, so we are looking to develop a new level of competencies and new level of responsibilities, especially when we talk about the relation with the patients. Because we need to make more, to do more, we need to do more at that level to educated people to deal with medicines, with drugs, because the level of knowledge in the normal population, it's very low. I think it's one of the challenges of the profession and also the sector to be aware of these kinds of problems related with drugs and try to have more conferences on the development on that topic to develop. We are looking for continuous development of profession as a very important tool for the future.

Samantha Quaye: In the UK, there are various cost providers of CE. We have government funded programs in each country for training to provide the core services, for example, medicines, consultations, with patient and also for extended services in care homes and primary care. There are formal qualifications such as diplomas and postgraduate certificate to develop clinical skills and knowledge for those in patient and public facing roles. These are funded technicians specific qualification. Then as people advanced, there are programs to develop knowledge and skills in specialist areas, so for example, procurement, public health. Alongside this, there are also various leadership and management programs tailored to each level of practice. As you work through your career, there'll be something for you to kind of learn from leadership and management perspective. Those aren't necessarily pharmacy specific, but some are.

I think it's important really to acknowledge that there needs to be equality of opportunity for pharmacy technicians to access all of these kinds of programs and the funding, there's still a need for the profession to amplify the request for that parities as a scheme with pharmacist counterparts if we are to achieve the collective aim of providing the best possible care for people who use pharmacy services. There are things out there, but it's not always accessible. I think that's something that we kind of need to continue to champion for pharmacy technicians, given all the roles that we've talked about from antimicrobial stewardship, policy development, procurement, aseptic, compounding, all of those things require an increased level of education and training to deliver safely. There are things out there, more needs to be developed, and definitely just the access to the funding and the opportunity to undertake them.

Tiffany Kofroth: On a state level, so I'm in Texas, we have to have 20 hours of continuing education. With that, whatever topics you want to do, it could be something that you're not really familiar with or something that you work on day-to-day, but you do have to earn 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years for the state. Now, if you are in a compounding area or performance septic technique, you do need to have anywhere from 2 to 4 hours depending on your level of expertise within topics of sterile compounding. That is a requirement for the state of Texas to practice here. That's every 2 years. On a national level, or your pharmacy technician certification, it's 20 hours of CE as well. One hour has to be in patient safety, which is very important, and then 1 hour has to be in pharmacy law. The other 18 hours can be in whatever content you would like to use, also a 2-year recertification cycle.

For technicians that have also completed the role or completed the education and the certification requirements to be an advanced pharmacy technician, which is called a CPhT-Advanced. Those technicians have received specialty training and have completed at least 4 specialty certifications, which, they’ll have that title then and when they recertify, they have to have 25 hours of continuing education, so 5 additional hours, and if one of those technicians is also a nationally certified sterile compounding technician, they also have within those 25 hours, 10 hours of continuing education for sterile compounding topics. So that's how the role is here.

As far as recertification and an institutional level, I work in pharmacy education, so I actually create educational activities for our technicians. We do at least 2 hours per year, so biannually for sterile compounding, and then we also provide other CE activities throughout the year based on any competency requirements or any kind of organizational requirements.