The Career Journey of a Pharmacy Technician
As the pharmacy industry continues to change, certified pharmacy technicians have the opportunity to step into new roles, taking on more responsibility in helping their pharmacy teams as well as the patients they serve.
Aimee Capps’ journey as a pharmacy technician has given her career opportunities she didn’t realize were possible. When Capps was first approached about a part-time opening as a pharmacy technician with her employer, a retail pharmacy, she was a full-time bookkeeper and spent her days in a back office.
With a little encouragement, she applied and started working in the pharmacy a couple of days each week, still bookkeeping on weekends. It didn’t take long before Capps says she was “hooked.” She loved helping people and seeing how much of a difference medication could make.
“I loved witnessing when patients would come in with a new prescription for whatever it may be, diabetes medication or blood pressure or whatever. Then the next month they’d come in for their refill, and you could see how much that medication had helped them,” says Capps.
Since becoming a certified pharmacy technician in 2003, Capps has worked in several roles with different types of responsibility. The secret to her success? Empathy.
“One major skill you have to have as a technician is empathy,” Capps says. “I think if you look at the patients as people instead of prescriptions, it helps. Just remember that every prescription belongs to someone who is going through something.”
A look into Capps’ journey in pharmacy
Capps was invited to participate in a career advancement program through her employer, which provided pharmacy technicians the opportunity to gain additional training to be able to take on more responsibility as a lead technician. She eventually worked as a tech specialist in one of Idaho’s busiest retail pharmacies.
“As a tech specialist, my role involved scheduling and staying on top of inventory—making sure that you had enough of one thing and not too much of another and making sure you didn’t run out of vials or lids. I also was responsible for training any new technicians that we hired,” Capps explains. “I also helped train any pharmacy interns that joined us. I taught them how the pharmacy works, from running the register to using the computer systems.”
Eventually, Capps moved into a specialty pharmacy role where instead of face-to-face interaction with patients, she spent much of her time obtaining prior authorizations. She says she honed her problem-solving skills there, because oftentimes, many oncology and mental health patients had challenges in getting insurance providers to cover prescriptions.
“I actually formed a lot of relationships with pharmaceutical sales reps at that time. When I couldn’t figure out another way to get drugs covered, I would work with the reps to obtain 30-day trial vouchers for patients,” recalls Capps.
During her time in specialty pharmacy, Capps received letters and handmade gifts from patients who wanted to say ‘thank you’ for helping them with often life-saving prescriptions.
Capps eventually received a promotion to assistant manager, where she managed 16 employees working in the specialty pharmacy.
In the state of Idaho, where Capps lives and works, pharmacy technicians are empowered to take on greater responsibilities. Today, Capps works remotely from her home, spending her time calling doctors’ offices to clarify prescriptions, helping to ensure patients receive the right medications and the correct dosage. She has the power to change and take new prescriptions over the phone—a task that just five years ago had to be completed by a pharmacist.
As the pharmacy industry continues to change, certified technicians like Capps have the opportunity to step into new roles, taking on more responsibility in helping their pharmacy teams as well as the patients they serve.
“Every day is something new. Every patient is someone new,” Capps says. “A prescription is not just a piece of paper … if you remember that, you’ll have the chance to make a difference.”