Pharmacy Technician Program

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Occupational Description

With the changing role of the pharmacist and the evolution of the national health care services, the demand for more educated and trained pharmacy technicians to assist pharmacists in the preparation of prescriptions has increased. The drug preparation duties, performed by the technician under the direct supervision of a registered pharmacist, may include interpreting prescription orders, maintaining patient records, packaging and labeling medications, maintaining drug supply, inventory, billing and crediting patients, handling automation, compounding medications, preparing sterile products, and performing computer entries.

Employment Characteristics

Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of health care settings such as hospitals, community pharmacies, long term care facilities, nuclear pharmacies, home health care agencies, clinic pharmacies, mail order pharmacies and drug wholesalers. The job prospects for pharmacy technicians are excellent. The median annual wage was $30,430 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,580 and the top 10 percent earned more than $42,400. Salaries and benefits vary according to experience, ability, geographic location and type of pharmacy practice. Completion of the program does not guarantee employment.

Accreditation and Licensure

The pharmacy technician program is fully accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) located at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814 and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) located at 135 South LaSalle Street, Suite 4100, Chicago, IL 60603. ASHP/ACPE’s phone number is (301) 657-3000. The Pharmacy Technician Program is recognized as an approved training program by the Indiana State Board of Pharmacy. Both the state of Illinois and the state of Indiana require a pharmacy technician license for internship and employment in a pharmacy. Requirements to obtain this license vary in both states.

The Program

Technicians assisting pharmacists in the preparation and dispensing of medications can be trained through this ASHP/ACPE-accredited certificate program. The full certificate program includes training in aseptic IV preparation, medication order processing, inventories, packaging, compounding, use of a prescription balance, and computers. Other pertinent courses are pharmacy math, pharmacy law, pharmacology, medical terminology and human body structure. The 39-credit hour certificate program (including prerequisites) can be taken either on a part-time or full-time basis since the courses in the ASHP/ACPE accredited program are offered in the evening. Students are admitted to the Pharmacy Technician Program each semester. General education requirements can be taken at any time.

Currently, a six credit hour course entitled PHT 115 Fundamentals of Pharmacy Tech Practice is being offered as an abbreviated alternative to the certificate program. PHT 115 was developed in response to the requests for more qualified entry-level community pharmacy technicians and is not intended to replace the Pharmacy Technician ASHP-accredited certificate program option. The accredited program prepares student to be employed in various types of practice settings. Students who successfully complete the PHT 115 course and who wish to enroll in the accredited pharmacy technician certificate program will receive a waiver for the PHT 100 Pharmacy Technician Orientation course.

Once the student has completed the certificate in the Pharmacy Technician Program, additional coursework can be taken to achieve an Associate’s Degree in General Studies. This degree may or may not transfer to a senior college or university. An SSC counselor or the PHT program coordinator should be contacted for more info on this Associates Degree in General Studies.

A grade of “C” or better is required in the PHT program and general education courses. In addition to the coursework, students perform 300 supervised hours in many pharmacy settings. For students with no prior employment in a pharmacy, the internships will require an equal number of hours in a community and a hospital pharmacy. If a student is employed in a pharmacy, the internships will be customized to recognize this previous experience. With the approval of the program coordinator and the academic administrator, currently-employed pharmacy technicians may be granted credit for up to 75 internship hours towards completion of the appropriate internship course.

The States of Illinois and Indiana require a pharmacy technician license prior to the beginning of the internships. The license application can be obtained from the program coordinator or from the Illinois or Indiana State Board of Pharmacy websites. Applicants must have a background check, drug screening and possibly a fingerprint check as well. Please note that it takes approximately eight weeks to receive this license from the states.

Due to the nature of internships, most assignments are scheduled for daytime shifts. Internship assignments are at the discretion of the program coordinator/instructor. Students are responsible for transportation to and from the internship sites, and must purchase a white lab jacket for use in both the lab classes and the internships.

Completion of the Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program does not fulfill the pre-pharmacy admission requirements for the senior college/university pharmacy programs. Please contact the Transfer Center or the Pharmacy Technician Program Coordinator for additional information on the prerequisites needed to apply to a college of pharmacy.

Application Process for the Pharmacy Technician program:

  1. Submit an SSC application and forward all official high school or HSE transcripts as well as other college transcripts directly to the Office of Admissions. Please note that admission to South Suburban College does not necessarily guarantee acceptance to the Pharmacy Technician Program.
  2. Submit the Pharmacy Technician Program Admission Application form to the Program at any time, but preferably no later than November 15th for Spring admission or May 1st for Fall admission, please contact the program coordinator to see if there are any available seats left.
  3. A photocopy of the student’s current health care insurance must be submitted to the program coordinator in order to participate at any clinical education site. Failure to maintain comprehensive health care insurance will result in the student being immediately withdrawn from the clinical site and thereby receiving a failing grade in the clinical education class. Furthermore, the student will be financially responsible to pay all medical bills and copayments as a result of injuries or health issues that arise from participation of clinical education programs.

A special tuition rate exists for the Indiana residents, Chicago residents, and other cooperating community college students who enroll in the SSC Pharmacy Technician program.

Admission Criteria

Admission to the Pharmacy Technician Program requires meeting with the program coordinator and successful completion of all developmental course(s) if indicated on the placement test in reading, English and math. To be considered, a student must complete the following prerequisites (with a grade of “C” or better; a grade of “B” or better is preferred in Elementary Algebra):

  1. BIO 115 – Human Body Structure
  2. HIT 102 – Fundamentals of Medical Terminology
  3. ENG 101 – Composition and Rhetoric
  4. Proficiency in Elementary Algebra (or higher) with a grade of “B” or better preferred
  5. Proficiency in Typing/Computers (typing skills of 25 wpm a must)

Prior to scheduling an appointment with the program coordinator, a potential student should take the placement test and/or submit transcripts of previous completed coursework. If the student completed Elementary Algebra (or higher) at another college with a B or better within the last three years, proficiency in Elementary Algebra has already been shown and the prerequisite would be met.

Prior to enrolling in the Pharmacy Technician Program, students are advised to review the applicable licensure procedures and requirements and state laws of the pharmacy profession to ensure that they are eligible to receive a license for the SSC Pharmacy Technician Program. Eligibility for licensure may be limited by the results of a criminal background investigation. A drug screening and CPR certification are required for the PHT internship and may be required by most pharmacy employers. Any defaults on college loans would mean the future loss of the pharmacy technician license.