My Career Step: Rebekah Hutchins
- Make ends meet
- Earn more while working less hours
benefits of her pharmacy technician career
- Significant pay raise
- Fulfilling and rewarding work environment
- Increased understanding of healthcare
Why I Chose a Career as a Pharmacy Technician
I moved to Austin when I was 18 to attend the University of Texas. I was a real, live, grownup who needed to pay my bills, which included rent, utilities, car payment and insurance, tuition, and books. I was working at a grocery store and had a scholarship for part of my tuition, but I still needed to work a lot of hours just to make ends meet. A co-worker mentioned that the store’s pharmacy had an opening for a pharmacy clerk, and I saw the chance to have a better work schedule and possibly get a pay raise. I spoke with the pharmacy manager and was shortly transferred to the pharmacy.
After my first couple of days in the pharmacy, I was fascinated by all the duties the pharmacy technicians could perform. Up to that point, I had always assumed that a pharmacist did everything and that the “pharmacy assistants” just helped at the register. Within the first couple of weeks, I wanted to do different tasks besides working at the register and my pharmacy manager explained that I would have to become a certified technician to perform those more advanced duties. In addition to looking forward to learning new responsibilities, I got excited at the prospect of getting a significant pay raise and being able to work fewer hours in order to bring home the same amount of money.
I began training to become a certified pharmacy technician after working in the pharmacy for less than a month. I spent two months studying and training for the exam, ingraining into my head what I was learning on the job with my co-workers. With only three months of pharmacy experience—and thanks mostly to my studying—I passed the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE). After passing the exam, I received a great pay raise and began performing more advanced duties in the pharmacy.
My Typical Workday
My typical workday as a pharmacy technician included the 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift (remember, I was still a college student). After clocking in, I would take over the input technician’s post while he or she went to lunch. As an input technician, I was the first line of contact with patients who were dropping off prescriptions. I asked the patient for necessary medical and insurance information and then gave them an estimate of how long it would take to prepare their order. After receiving a prescription, I input the information into the computer and transmitted the claim to the insurance company if needed. Once the prescription was accepted by the insurance company and any drug interactions were cleared by the pharmacist-in-charge, the computer printed out a label and the original prescription and computer label were passed onto the assembly technician.
I learned that throughout the day, technicians in a pharmacy typically rotate responsibilities. Most days, after working as the input technician for a couple of hours, I would switch positions and work in assembly. As an assembly technician, I verified the work of the input technician by making sure that the original prescription matched what was put into the computer. Once that information was verified, I pulled the stock bottle of the drug and prepared the correct amount to be repackaged in a smaller bottle or vial. Once my work as assembly technician was done, the prescription was passed on to the pharmacist for the final check.
While performing specific duties in my assigned station, I also answered the phone and assisted patients, nurses, doctors, and pharmacy personnel from other pharmacies. Often times the pharmacy experienced a rush of patients and the input technician got a lot of prescriptions to type at once. When this happened, I helped with insurance claim rejections or prescriptions that needed clarification from the prescribing doctor, two tasks that easily slowed down the input technician.
Join Our Ranks!
I have really loved being a pharmacy technician! In addition to the financial benefits, which I desperately needed at the time, I also learned so many valuable life skills. I became more educated about my own health and the medications I was taking. I also learned a lot about insurance plans and how to advocate for myself as an insurance client. This knowledge spread into other aspects of my life and helped me to make more informed decisions in my personal life.
I also loved knowing that, as a pharmacy technician, I was helping people improve their quality of life. Some patients make trips to the pharmacy weekly or even several times a week. Getting to know “the regulars” and seeing them during the workday was always a bright spot in my day. These patients appreciate the fact that you know them and are always willing to help. You really begin to care for the well being of one another and those relationships can be very meaningful. As a pharmacy technician, you truly become an important part of your community.
When you work at a pharmacy, you gain a new family and learn to really be a team player. Everyone works together to provide efficient and safe services to the patients who trust you to meet their healthcare needs. I have been a technician for ten years now and my pharmacy co-workers are some of my best and most trusted friends! If this work environment and lifestyle appeals to you, I invite you to join the ranks of pharmacy technicians!