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Becoming a Pharmacy Technician

Updated on October 31, 2010

The bad economy has forced many well educated and not so well educated people to seek other careers as a backup plan. Many pursue re-education via traditional methods or taking an easier route via online courses. Many seek new careers in the medical field because it is always growing and the need will always exist. 

Take my friend Dave, had a steady, well paying career in the It field as a Technical Writer with over 10 yrs. experience. His skills during good times (two years ago) he was being paid at least $60-65,000 a yr. Jobs were plentiful and not difficult to find. Well, after two years of barely working as a TW, unemployment and dwindling savings, he decided it was time to change careers, or at least try to.

He enrolled in one of the better online courses provided through Calif. State University-East Bay, Dominez Hills. The university is real, thousands go there everyday. They offer a wide variety of online courses in the IT and medical fields. They are reasonably priced ranging from $1500 to 5,000. Some of the online courses require you to go to a class or site once a week for hands-on training, others, are 100% online and through Gatlin online education.

Dave paid $2000 for his Pharm Tech course. Within weeks, he received three hefty medical pharmacology books and other related material. He logged onto the Gatlin education course and assigned a online instructor. while Dave lives in Florida now, there is no problem with accessing either the instructor or the assignments and online lectures.

Dave is happy with the course material, however, he does have a suspicion that much of the material seems to be overkill for a PT earning not more than $25 hr. One module was entirely of learning the myriad ways to convert milligrams into this or that, ounces into metrics, learning the old system, percentages and so on.

The relationship between a PT and a Pharmacist is akin to an attorney and a paralegal. Whatever the paralegal does is approved and checked by the attorney. There many things an attorney will never trust a paralegal to do. The PT is in the same relationship. The pharmacist will check whatever the PT does. Like a paralegal, the PT, cannot do many things that the pharmacist can do.

Dave contacted the instructor about was it necessary to learn all the possible conversions and was it typical for a PT do this on the job. The instructor, who has been a PT for 17 yrs, responded that in all her years, she really did very few conversions on the job. Most of the time, the pharmacist does them when the prescription arrives.She told him that you'll just have to learn them to pass the state licensing exam.

OK. Dave did and moved onto the other modules, where similar questions appeared in his mind. Many of the chapters seem to be taken out of textbooks slated for Pharmacy majors. Chapters delve deep into body functions and how certain drugs are used to deal with the condition. It is common for 10 more drugs be available for a condition, each with typical dosage, dangers, and other details. The online exams ask for the name of a drug used for, say, a beta blocker, anticoagulants etc.

Again, Dave asked his instructor about this and why would a PT need to know this in a typical on the job situation. Yes, for a pharmacist, you would need to know this kind of detail. The instructor responded admitting that in the everyday world, the PT is not really expected to know it because the pharmacist is really in charge. While it is good know for exam purposes, most PTs will forget the many types of drugs by the time they graduate and get a PT job.

This all equates to some degree what law students do: they learn all about the law just to pass the bar exam, then they dump much of the knowledge.

Dave, is just about ready to start his 20 hr internship at a local pharmacy. He is very apprehensive about his newly chosen career, making 50% less. In his eyes, if the new career is not for him in the end, at least he will only be out $2,000 and not $10,000 for retraining.


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    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

      You know I have been seriously thinking of doing something like that. I got married right out of high school to my high school sweetheart and after our kids grew up we both then went to college and at first it was so scary but then I loved it and was top of my class in most all of my classes. Although I was an honor roll student all through the 12 years I had to go to school I never really liked it, even being popular, cheerleader etc. I don't know why. Mostly I have had my own business, hard work but fun. Choosing to do something instead of forced has a lot to do with it I think and there are many things people can do to make that lesser paying job become better by changing how we live and spending money and it doesn't have to be depressing, I think it is just going to have to be a necessity, at best.