An exciting reason to become a pharmacy technician is that they are in demand. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 31% before 2018. Several factors are contributing to this growth including an increasing senior population, changes in pharmacy staffing laws, and implementations of telepharmacies.
With so many medications available to people in the United States, men and women are living longer than ever before. Not only does that increase the overall population of people taking medications, the older population typically takes more medications as age factors into disease susceptibility. Drug companies are constantly researching, developing, and distributing new and improved drugs and treatments to meet the growing medical needs of the population. An increase in medication demand results in an increase for pharmacy professionals.
Pharmacy assistants have been around almost as long as pharmacists but a pharmacy technician has additional responsibilities than the traditional assistant, so more education and regulation has become necessary. Some states had regulations limiting the number of pharmacy technicians permitted to be supervised by a licensed pharmacist to 3 or 4 technicians to 1 pharmacist. However, many of those regulations are changing or have already changed. Many states now allow the pharmacist to determine the number of pharmacy technicians they are comfortable with supervising. This type of regulation, a “no set ratio” regulation, results in a greater need for pharmacy technicians.
Various regions of the country are experiencing a pharmacist shortage, so to meet the needs of communities that have lost their pharmacists due to retirement or relocation, the telepharmacy concept has been developed. North Dakota, for example, has many rural communities that do not have a local pharmacist. The citizens of these small towns do not have the time or means to travel hours to fill their prescriptions, especially when they need medication right away.
A telepharmacy allows pharmacists to provide patient care to patients at a distance. A licensed pharmacist works from a central pharmacy site, supervising a registered pharmacy technician at a remote telepharmacy site in the patient’s community through the use of video conferencing technology. The pharmacy technician prepares the prescription and the pharmacist verifies that the technician has performed the dispensing correctly. The pharmacist can also interact face-to-face in real time with the patient, to counsel them on their prescription and to answer any drug-related medical questions a patient might have. Pharmacy technicians who work in this capacity must be well trained, focused, and detail-oriented. Telepharmacies present a new and unique job opportunity for pharmacy technicians.
The pharmaceutical industry is growing and highly skilled pharmacy technicians are in demand. The senior population will continue to increase in the U.S. as medical advances cause life expectancy to rise. Study and work hard to possess advanced knowledge and skills to play an integral role in the health care industry.