Working as part of a team and under the direct supervision of a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician is responsible for the preparation of medications. As part of their role, they measure, prepare and document dosages made according to those detailed on a patient's prescription.
Through their awareness of relevant medical or dental practices, they can understand information on a prescription and ensure that medications given to a patient, as directed by a doctor, are prepared correctly, and handed over to the pharmacists for dispensing to the patient.
The role of a pharmacy technician carries great responsibility. This article explores the necessary skills, technical knowledge, and aptitudes required to be an effective pharmacy technician. You will also learn the assessments you can use as part of your recruitment process to ensure you hire the right people for your pharmacy technician vacancies.
What should a pharmacy technician be able to do?
The responsibilities of a pharmacy technician cover practical and administrative tasks, all focused on the correct preparation of medications as directed by a medical professional. Pharmacy technicians work directly with pharmacists in either a hospital setting, local pharmacy, or in some cases, pharmaceutical research organizations.
As part of their role, pharmacy technicians must take receipt of prescriptions, log this information on a database and ensure that information on the prescription to be dispensed is updated on the relevant patient record.
The preparation of medication is a vital part of the role of a pharmacist; this can include the measurement of drugs using the correct method and solutions. Depending on the pharmacy technician's setting, they may be required to make up bulk medications, replenish intravenous (iv) doses, for example, for chemotherapy purposes, or add prescribed drugs to iv medications ready for check and dispensation by pharmacists, before use.
Pharmacy technicians also have a direct role in liaising with customers, answering any queries, and directing more complex questions to the pharmacist as necessary. They may, in some instances, be required to deliver medications to patients, keep pharmacy equipment clean and appropriately maintained according to stipulated standards, and restock shelves with products.
Skills to look for in a pharmacy technician
Given the mix of responsibilities of a pharmacy technician, those who are effective in the role demonstrate a wide range of skills. You should assess these skills when recruiting a pharmacy technician to ensure you recruit individuals who can perform the role to the highest standards.
Reading comprehension: reading and understanding direct instructions as detailed on a prescription or medical documentation is vital if a pharmacy technician is to carry out their primary duties correctly.
Active learning: having a preference for action and the skill to learn new information, then use this knowledge in future circumstances allows pharmacy technicians to thrive in the role. Given the wide range of medical ailments, pharmacy technicians need to be eager to improve their knowledge to make sense of any new information detailed on a prescription or medical instruction.
Error checking: pharmacy technicians need to spot any errors or discrepancies in the information they have been provided, documentation, or medication they have prepared. Having the skill to do this ensures any mistakes are identified quickly, meaning efficiency in their role and avoiding any wide-reaching consequences.
Oral communication skills: communicating with individuals from different backgrounds means that pharmacy technicians can effectively get their key message across. Pharmacy technicians speak to patients who may have limited medical knowledge, so being able to determine their issues or articulate when and how they take their medication is essential in this role.
Microsoft Office suite: pharmacy technicians must ensure that patient medication is logged in the relevant database and document any relevant issues. Having a working knowledge of Microsoft Office enables this.
Useful abilities for a pharmacy technician
The are many abilities that pharmacy technicians need to demonstrate to effectively support pharmacists in any medical or pharmaceutical setting. As a recruiter, ensuring that you evaluate your candidate pool against these abilities means that those you hire can work with others and contribute to the relevant standards of patient care.
Teamwork: having the ability to work with others and contribute to a productive working environment helps pharmacy technicians deliver a high standard of work and customer service.
Problem-solving: being able to identify problems and be attuned to challenging situations before they arise means pharmacy technicians work effectively. This could be concerning medication being prepared or a customer query that requires pharmacy technicians to draw on their ability to deal with problems and their analytical and critical thinking to reach the best outcome.
Numerical reasoning: being comfortable working with numerical data is at the core of a pharmacy technician's role. They need to use mathematical principles such as ratios or fractions to measure the correct solutions when making up medication, ensuring the resulting preparation is at the proper dosage in the right volume as prescribed by the doctor.
Logical thinking: demonstrating an ability to think logically using the given information, identify relationships between information and reach a logical conclusion, helps pharmacy technicians solve everyday problems.
Oral expression: the ability to express themselves clearly, using appropriate expressions and words depending on whom they are speaking to, is essential for all pharmacy technicians, no matter the medical setting they are working in.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a pharmacy technician?
Recruiters can use various pre-employment tests to determine whether individuals have the soft skills required for a pharmacy technician role.
Accountability: given the role's responsibilities and the ownership of their decisions, this soft skill is essential for all pharmacy technicians. This scenario-based test helps determine whether an individual demonstrates the integrity and discipline required to be a pharmacy technician.
Teamwork: collaborating and working with others to deliver a patient's care requires pharmacy technicians to demonstrate strong teamwork skills. This test uses various scenarios to evaluate an individual's ability to work in a team and contribute to a productive work environment.
Communication skills: a test based on several scenarios that assess an individual's skill in communicating with others in various situations. This test also looks at whether individuals can interpret social cues, actively listen and respond accordingly.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a pharmacy technician?
There are several pre-employment assessments that you can use to ensure those that you hire possess the inherent abilities needed as a pharmacy technician.
Numerical reasoning: a timed test where questions are presented in graphs, tables, or charts. This test evaluates an individual's ability to work with numbers and their ability to work under pressure. Individuals need to use their working knowledge of basic principles such as ratios, percentages, or fractions to select the correct answer from the given list.
Logical reasoning: a multiple-choice test that requires candidates to solve problems using their logical reasoning ability. The questions use non-verbal information; individuals need to determine the relationship or link between shapes or images to determine the correct answer.
Error checking: measuring an individual's ability to identify errors or discrepancies in information such as data sets or text paragraphs. This test uses numerical and verbal information.
Verbal reasoning: assessing a candidate's ability to read, understand and interpret written information, then use what they have learned from this to solve the problem that follows.
Microsoft Excel: a test that evaluates an individual's practical working knowledge when using Excel and the application's functions as relevant to their role
Our recommended test battery for a pharmacy technician
When recruiting pharmacy technicians, we recommend using the following test battery.
Accountability: a scenario-based test that helps you identify whether an individual demonstrates the disciple, integrity, and responsibility necessary to take on the duties of a pharmacy technician.
Numerical reasoning: a timed assessment determining whether candidates possess the inherent numerical aptitude needed in this role.
Error checking: a test where individuals are presented with lists of numerical and verbal information, requiring them to use their abilities to spot discrepancies in the information. This test also assesses candidates' ability to make decisions under pressure.
Logical reasoning: determining an individual's ability to use logical thinking to solve problems when presented with non-verbal information. This test also requires candidates to work under pressure and pay attention to detail.
Microsoft Excel: a practical test highlighting a candidate's proficiency in using Microsoft Excel and its functions used by pharmacy technicians to carry out calculations for the preparation of the medicine.
For more information on hiring a pharmacy technician, check out Picked's page on pharmacy technician tests.