The Future of Continuing Education for Certified Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy operations can be improved by investing in continuing education for pharmacy technicians.

As pharmacists, our success in performing daily tasks is never achieved alone. Having highly skilled support staff makes the difference between a productive day and a “chasing our tail” day. Investing time in continuing education (CE), support management, and mentoring pharmacy technicians builds teamwork and improves patient care for the pharmacy organization.

Hiring certified pharmacy technicians (CPTs) with basic skills is the primary focus for most organizations, but establishing and implementing programs that provide CE for CPTs will boast staff retention and improve critical thinking.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) is in full agreement with this concept and has begun implementing changes that will advance pharmacy technician qualifications by elevating its standards for certification and recertification.

By 2020, the PTCB will have individuals seeking to become CPTs to do the following:

Participate in an ASHP-Accredited Pharmacy Technician Education Program

Successful completion of an accredited American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) pharmacy technician education program will become a requirement for initial PTCB certification.

Description and Proposed Plan:

Leaders in the profession have demonstrated a desire for pharmacy technicians to follow the same credentialing model as pharmacists by becoming certified and registered with the state. Pharmacists are required to graduate from an accredited pharmacy school before they sit for the NAPLEX board exam and become licensed by their state board of pharmacy.

Establish and Implement Pharmacy Technician-Specific CE

PTCB will require all CE hours to be specific to pharmacy technicians by 2015.

Description and Proposed Plan:

It is important for pharmacy technicians to be educated through programs designed specifically to address their responsibilities and knowledge requirements in the workplace. Many CE providers currently offer pharmacy technician-specific CE, and others are looking to expand their offerings.

In order to qualify for this designation, CE programs must have pharmacy technician-specific objectives written for the course. An acceptable CE program may have 2 sets of objectives: 1 for pharmacists and 1 for pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy technician-specific objectives will be based upon the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) CE designations; however, PTCB will not require programs to be offered only by ACPE-accredited providers.

Although these are the future goals of PTCB, there are numerous actions that can be taken now to provide CE to your current staff. Some areas of concentration for CE may be:

  • How to incorporate pharmacy technicians into the multidisciplinary team
  • Prioritizing and multitasking duties based on patient need and/or importance
  • Medication safety
  • Informatics
  • Customer and provider service satisfaction

Larger organizations are able to establish their own ASHP-accredited CE programs that can be tailored to your facility’s individual needs but still follow the regulations of ASHP. If this is not an option for your company, there may be less-intensive options, such as providing short “blitz” type education during staff meetings, informal huddles, or utilizing the Model Curriculum for Pharmacy Technicians provided through ASHP. The latter assists pharmacies in reviewing job responsibilities, outlining objectives for training, training to suit your needs, and organizing modules in order of learning. These processes could make a tremendous impact in creating an efficient pharmacy work environment.

Additionally, many job opportunities are becoming available for pharmacy technicians who have high levels of skill and expertise in particular areas. It is to the benefit of organizations and pharmacy technicians to seek and take advantage of all CE opportunities that become available, which will potentially create a work environment that is desirable for all involved.

References:

1. ASHP.org

2. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. Vol 58 Jun 1, 2001