6 Top Challenges for Pharmacy Technicians

3 years ago  •  Add Comment  •  by Donna Bliss

They look so smart in their lab coats or scrubs with branded name tags. On the surface it appears to be the perfect balance of what all kids dream of being when they grow up. Don’t we all play at being shop owners and doctors during childhood? As a pharmacy technician you fulfill both dreams of managing a store and helping people.

But of course, no career is all fun and games. Having a realistic view of what the future job entails will prevent disappointment and being prepared – naturally – helps you excel. So, what are the top six challenges you’ll face if you pick this as your career path?

1. Prepare for People

It’s an honorable goal to want to help people. The challenge: Working with people in any environment brings challenges and conflict. This could relate to patients who fight with you about what a doctor wrote or customers who hate waiting in line.

2. Work Space Stressors

People on your side of the counter will also have an affect your daily routine.

An example: Something as simple as your colleague not marking which bottles have been opened can have repercussions. Only when the next patient comes in you may find multiple opened bottles from which pills were taken and now there aren’t enough for the person at the counter.

Even though you’ll be working with merchandise, people skills and knowing how to be assertive and resolve conflict will be valuable skills for your future career.

3. Technology: A Blessing and a Curse

Your job will be made easier by technology as many procedures will be automated. Thanks to computers and scanners you can be more productive. Unfortunately, these same devices can also cause immense frustration for you or the patients:

  • Patients that don’t know how card machines work may hold up the line
  • When the system is down you may not be able to fill prescriptions
  • The phone can ring constantly, preventing you from doing your work

Once again, mentally preparing for days with many disruptions ensures you’re not naïve when you enter the job market.

4. Drug Management

The items mentioned above may be true for just about any modern position. But what about responsibilities that are particular to the pharmacy?

Inventory will be high on your list of priorities and it’s loaded with challenges:

  • You must be extremely meticulous in dispensing medication as it affects people’s health.
  • Tracking recalled and expired medication and taking them off the shelf is vital so you don’t give out any drugs that are unsafe for consumption.
  • Your skills in managing controlled substances can affect a pharmacy’s compliance with regulations.
  • Proper cycle counts are necessary to ensure your pharmacy orders the correct products so they can assist patients with needed drugs, without over stocking items. As with any retail business stock management determines profit and level of customer service.

That’s quite a mouthful and you have to do all of these in between other duties, always keeping a smile for the next customer.

That’s quite a mouthful and you have to do all of these in between other duties, always keeping a smile for the next customer.

5. Customers Really Do Want A-Know-It-All

Naturally, customers don’t come with prescriptions only. They come with unique requests:

  • People assume you know as much as doctors and may ask health questions in areas where you were never trained.
  • Instead of visiting a doctor, after an online search regarding their symptoms, they may request medicine that you know is irrelevant or even risky to use in their condition.
  • They may want all their prescriptions refilled while you know it’s unlikely they’re still taking all their pills. You’ll have to work through all the items on their profile to ensure they only pay for what’s needed and don’t stock too much of controlled substances at home.

6. The Economy

What is the reason some people don’t visit the doctor? For many it may be a lack of funds and medical insurance. You’ll have to help the best you can while advising them—with some assertiveness—when it’s REALLY time to seek out an expert’s opinion.

So, are you ready to take on this job description? It’s extensive. It’s challenging. But yes, it’s very rewarding. Do you have questions about what it really takes to be a pharmacy technician? Why not leave a comment below?

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