Understanding Your Scope of Practice as a Pharmacy Technician
As a pharmacy technician, it is very important that you understand what you can and cannot say within your scope of practice. If you provide any advice outside of this scope, you’re breaking the law, so it’s very important to understand these restrictions.
As a pharmacy technician, you are not trained or licensed to advise customers with regard to medications and their use—this includes OTC drugs and diet supplements. Use your best judgment to determine whether a customer’s question exceeds the bounds of common pharmaceutical knowledge before answering. As a rule of thumb, refer to a pharmacist for any questions involving patient assessment; the proper administration, dosage, uses, or effects of a medication (whether prescription, OTC, or diet supplement); and for any questions that require a professional opinion or judgment.
Of course, a pharmacy technician should use their best judgment when providing customers with information. In the case of OTC medications, sometimes customers need basic information that is readily available on the OTC packaging. For example, a customer might ask what an analgesic is, what “enteric-coated’ means, or which alternative brands are available. These and other routine questions can be safely answered without referring the customer to the pharmacist.
Do not be afraid to admit your lack of expertise. Customers will appreciate that you are concerned enough to make sure they receive accurate information. When a question deals with the effects or administration of a medication, ask the customer to wait for a moment while you get someone who can provide a professional answer to the question. In some instances, you may provide medication-related information when providing refills and when directed to do so by a pharmacist.
When in doubt, ask the pharmacy manager! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.