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5 Qualities You Need To Succeed As A Pharmacy Technician

Updated on June 14, 2013
The Truth!
The Truth!

Regardless of what your motivation is in becoming a Pharmacy Technician/Assistant,here are the top 5 qualities and attributes you should have to make sure that this career is right for you, before you sign that college application form:

1.) Patience

It is not easy to deal with sick people. Patients’ moods easily swing from happy, to borderline psychotic, to enraged, to calm once again. So much so that sometimes it’s easy to feel that their mood swings are personally directed at you. Naturally sourced patience–as in the patience that comes naturally from your personality–will help you emotionally maintain your composure and sanity in dealing with such mood swings. Patience will help you see through the fact that these mood swings are often medication induced–either from side-effects, lack of medications in their system, or during withdrawal from addictive medications. So being patient is definitely the number 1 quality you must have–or else you’d stress yourself out each and every time.

2.) Sacrificing One's Self

In a nutshell, its the ability to put others before yourself. As a Pharmacy Technician, you have to be able to put your patient’s needs first before your own. Having a bad day? Guess what, the patient across the counter may have just been diagnosed with a lifelong disease. Or maybe he’s just getting his weekly forged narcotic prescription. Sick or not, right or wrong, each and every person who comes to the counter is a patient with a need (and a customer who will put money, directly or indirectly, into the pharmacy.) I know from firsthand experience how difficult it can be to put a customer’s needs first, especially if that customer just yelled at you, or if the customer before him gave you a hard time and you just feel like making this new customer wait 30 minutes for his prescription, but to be able to maintain your sanity (and be able to come back the next day to work) you will need to put your patient first.

3.) Authenticity

Many of us can tell when someone is being, well, fake. From the way they talk, the way they address us, and that overall “yucky” feeling we get when dealing with fake people come from human nature and our own personal instincts. So imagine if you’re sick, and your perception of human behavior can get skewed. Some patients become ultra sensitive; others become deadpan, depending on how sick they are, and the medications they’re taking. With that said, a patient can easily sense if you being “nice” is as fake as a 2 dollar Canadian bill. So if you’re going to be a Pharmacy Technician/Assistant, you have to be able to be authentic–meaning that the nice guy/girl they see is really you, that being nice and understanding is genuinely a part of who you are. Because the moment you put up a fake persona, if being nice and caring and sweet isn’t really who you are but just a facade for the sake of the work,not only will you emotionally suffer from being untrue to yourself, but patients can sense it and it just ruins any potential trust/bond that a pharmacy needs to establish with its patient base.

4.) Compassion

For many in the healthcare industry, this is the one sole reason they choose to stay in their chosen field. Almost synonymous to selflessness, compassion takes a more emotional approach to putting others first. As I previously said, regardless if that person is a dick, a saint, getting a birth control prescription filled or an anti-retroviral medication, they are a patient. They can be the biggest jerk you have ever met (and I have met so,so many in community pharmacy) but at the end of the day, you will have to realize that they’re going home and they’re on medications, and that medication is going to affect the way they live their life. You most likely don’t have to time your meals, or see your doctor every week for an injection that will keep you sane, or have to keep your medications bagged in a brown bag so people won’t see that they are HIV/AIDS medications. For you to be able to succeed and find this profession emotionally and spiritually fulfilling, without it being emotionally draining, you have to be compassionate.

5.) Headstrong

Now I know that the other 4 attributes/qualities allude to a rather soft personality, but this 5th one is the anchor that will keep you afloat. Here’s the thing: As Pharmacy Technicians/Assistants, you have to be compassionate, patient, genuine, and self-less with every patient you encounter. But at the same time, it is also your responsibility to uphold standards of practices and legal restrictions that your province/country may have. And for you to be able to do that, you have to be headstrong. You have to be able to firmly say “No, I cannot fill your prescription because it’s too early for you to get your medications”. When you spot a fake prescription–which is a criminal offence anywhere you go–it is your duty to prevent that prescription from being filled to the best of your ability. Being headstrong allows you to do that and not be swayed by any sob story the criminals may have. Likewise, you will need to be headstrong to keep your job safe–Many pharmacy technicians make the mistake of counselling a patient on drugs, especially if it’s an Over-The-Counter medication or if the pharmacist is busy. Even if you know all the ins and outs of a certain medication, it is still illegal and unethical to counsel a patient unless you’re a licensed Pharmacist, or a registered Pharmacy student. You can get fired, AND can get your pharmacist fired in the process. Know your limitations, and be headstrong and firm–for both you and your patient’s safety.

Look inside yourself, and take a look at this list. Does any of this resonate with you? Are these characteristics and attributes organically within your personality? Or do you feel that you will have to fake it? And if you DO have to fake it for the sake of performing your job, how long can you sustain that lie before it consumes you? Take all that into consideration when considering a career as a Pharmacy Technician/Assistant. Good luck!


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    • Janellegems profile image


      2 years ago from United States

      Very interesting, excellent Hub. My cousin is becoming a pharmacy technician. This is great information that will be of great help to him. Thanks for this Hub.


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