A Pharmacy Technician is regulated and has developed significantly in recent years. You will carry out some of the same tasks as a Pharmacist, engaging with patients and managing the supply of medicines in a community pharmacy, and liaising with other members of the healthcare team.
In a hospital, you could manage the Pharmacy Department, be involved in taking medicine histories from patients and reviewing medicines, counselling, and giving advice on different treatment options. You may also work on implementing IT systems, governance and medication safety. You will likely provide a link between wards, patients and the pharmacy, or manufacture medicines where ready-made preparations are not available.
In community pharmacy, Pharmacy Technicians may give advice to patients on stopping smoking, and provide expertise on different treatment options for patients in a specialist area, such as mental health or general practice. The work of a Pharmacy Technician includes:
Pharmacy Technicians need to be confident to work with all sorts of people, have good communication skills (including listening and the ability to explain clearly) and be organised. You need to be accurate and methodical, responsible, pay attention to detail, be ready to refer to the pharmacist when necessary, understand law and guidelines on medicines, read and carry out instructions, be interested in people’s health and explain clearly to members of the public. You also need good customer relation and organisational skills, science skills and good manual (hand) skills.
To practise as a Pharmacy Technician, you have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). To register, you need to study for an accredited qualification such as a BTEC National Diploma in pharmaceutical science, an NVQ/SVQ level 3 in pharmacy services or a National Certificate in pharmaceutical science.
To apply for a course, you need to be working in a pharmacy. Employers, including the NHS, offer jobs for trainee Pharmacy Technicians (or dispensing assistants). Employers usually ask for at least 4 GCSEs (9-4/A*-C), including English, maths and two science or equivalent qualifications. It will help your application if you can show that you have an understanding of pharmacy and how it benefits patients. It is a good idea to spend some time with a registered pharmacist to see what the work is like.
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