SAN FRANCISCO -- Pharmacy technicians must be professional, service-oriented people who understand sophisticated pharmacy procedures and also the limits placed on their role.
So said Olena Maleckyj-Popowycz, manager of pharmacy training for American Drug Stores, Oak Brook, Ill., addressing the Food Marketing Institute Supermarket Pharmacy Conference here in April.
Maleckyj-Popowycz said that with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 and the increase in responsibility for pharmacy technicians, American Drug Stores has lengthened its technician training program to five days from one day.
"We'll train someone who has never had experience in a pharmacy at all, who knows nothing about a prescription or what a pharmacy technician does, and in five days they are at a proficiency level where they can step in and be of great assistance to the pharmacist," she said.
Pharmacy technicians should have a positive, professional attitude, good interpersonal and communication skills and an orientation to service, she said. "Previous service experience is a plus." Customers make a good applicant base, too, because they may already have an interest in pharmacy as a patient, she added.
Other places to seek out qualified applicants, she said, include pharmacy schools, high schools and college technician programs. As soon as a technician is hired, "training should occur as a scheduled activity," she said. She pointed out five steps for training a pharmacy technician: tell, show, try, correct and try again.
Maleckyj-Popowycz said on-site or off-site training in a classroom setting can both be effective, and can include lectures, role plays, videos, quizzes and evaluations. "Off-site training seems to have worked quite well for us," she said.
When training is completed, she added, a pharmacy technician should understand the following: customer service, basic prescription knowledge, basic product knowledge, state/federal legal limitations of the job, computer processing information and company policies and standards.