What Do Pharmacy Technicians Do?

March 18th, 2024


In the healthcare landscape of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, pharmacy technicians play a key role in ensuring the smooth operation of pharmacies and the safety of patients. With the growing demand for skilled healthcare professionals, understanding the responsibilities, salary prospects, and pathways to becoming a pharmacy technician is essential for aspiring individuals. Learn about the intricacies of what pharmacy technicians do, their salary potential, and the steps to kickstart a rewarding career in this field.

Pharmacy Technician vs. Pharmacy Assistant: Understanding the Difference

Before delving into the specifics of what a pharmacy technician does, it’s crucial to differentiate between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacy assistant. While both roles contribute to the efficient functioning of a pharmacy, they encompass distinct responsibilities and qualifications.

Pharmacy assistants primarily focus on administrative tasks and customer service duties, such as processing payments, managing inventory, and assisting customers with non-medical inquiries. On the other hand, pharmacy technicians undergo formal training and possess a deeper understanding of pharmaceutical principles and medication management. They are responsible for more specialized tasks, including preparing prescription medications, compounding medications, and conducting quality assurance checks.

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, pharmacy technicians are integral members of the healthcare team, collaborating closely with pharmacists to ensure the safe and effective distribution of medications. Here are some primary responsibilities of pharmacy technicians:

  1. Medication Dispensing: Pharmacy technicians accurately dispense prescription medications by measuring, counting, and packaging them according to regulatory guidelines. They also label medications with pertinent information, such as dosage instructions and expiration dates.
  2. Compounding Medications: In certain cases where commercially available medications are not suitable for a patient’s needs, pharmacy technicians may be required to compound customized medications under the supervision of a pharmacist. This involves mixing, diluting, and preparing medications according to precise specifications.
  3. Inventory Management: Pharmacy technicians assist in maintaining optimal inventory levels by monitoring stock, ordering medications and supplies, and managing expiry dates. This ensures that pharmacies have adequate supplies to meet patient needs while minimizing waste.
  4. Patient Education: Pharmacy technicians provide valuable information to patients regarding their medications, including proper usage, potential side effects, and interactions with other drugs. They may also offer guidance on over-the-counter products and healthcare devices.
  5. Quality Assurance: Before dispensing medications, pharmacy technicians conduct thorough quality assurance checks to verify the accuracy and integrity of prescriptions. This involves reviewing medication orders, verifying dosages, and identifying any potential discrepancies.
  6. Administrative Duties: In addition to their clinical responsibilities, pharmacy technicians may perform various administrative tasks, such as maintaining patient records, processing insurance claims, and coordinating with healthcare providers.

Pharmacy Technician Salary: What to Expect

One of the key considerations for individuals pursuing a career as a pharmacy technician is the potential salary outlook. While salaries may vary based on factors such as experience, location, and employer, pharmacy technicians in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick can typically expect competitive compensation packages.

As of 2023, the average salary for pharmacy technicians in Nova Scotia is approximately $18/hour, while their counterparts in New Brunswick earn slightly higher, with an average salary of $18.50/hour. However, it’s important to note that experienced pharmacy technicians or those with specialized certifications can command higher salaries.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

Embarking on a career as a pharmacy technician requires a combination of formal education, practical training, and certification. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to become a pharmacy technician in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick:

  1. Educational Requirements: Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent qualification. While not mandatory, completing post-secondary education in pharmacy technology or a related field can enhance your prospects in this field. Eastern College offers a 54-week Pharmacy Technician program that equips students with the fundamental knowledge and skills they need for careers in the pharmaceutical industry in Nova Scotia. In addition, graduates of our Pharmacy Assistant program in Nova Scotia with at least 2000 hours of work experience can enroll in our Pharmacy Technician Bridging program so they advance their careers.
  2. Formal Training: Enroll in a recognized pharmacy technician training program accredited by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC). These programs typically include classroom instruction, laboratory practice, and clinical rotations to develop essential skills and knowledge.
  3. Practical Experience: Gain hands-on experience through internships or work placements at pharmacies or healthcare facilities. This provides valuable exposure to real-world pharmacy operations and reinforces classroom learning.
  4. Certification: Upon completing your education and training, you must pass the Pharmacy Technician Qualifying Examination (PTCE) administered by the PEBC. Successfully passing this exam demonstrates your competency in pharmacy practice and qualifies you for registration as a pharmacy technician.
  5. Licensure and Registration: Apply for registration with the respective provincial regulatory authority, such as the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists or the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists. Upon approval, you will be granted licensure to practice as a pharmacy technician in the province.
  6. Continuing Education: Stay abreast of developments in the field of pharmacy by participating in continuing education programs and pursuing additional certifications or specialized training. This demonstrates your commitment to professional growth and enhances your career prospects.

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in the delivery of quality healthcare services, ensuring the safe and efficient management of medications. By understanding the responsibilities, salary potential, and pathways to becoming a pharmacy technician, individuals can embark on a fulfilling career dedicated to improving patient outcomes and enhancing pharmacy operations. Whether you’re drawn to the clinical aspects of medication management or the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in healthcare, a career as a pharmacy technician offers a rewarding path filled with opportunities for professional growth and development.