Pharmacy Technician Work and Certification

In addition to being a budding social worker, I am also a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) licensed by the State of Virginia and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. While this is not an example of professional development directly related to Longwood University, I found it fit to include due to its applicability of skills.

I always say that social work and medicine are cousins. Many of the skills that apply to each individual can be further applied to the other field; for example, both involve critical thinking and learning to communicate with others effectively. Many of the laws are also the same, such as HIPAA. I also feel that my experience as a technician has greatly enhanced my ability as a social worker due to my understanding of medicine, policies such as HIPAA, and overall critical thinking and management skills.

I started my path as a pharmacy technician in the Spring of 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. As someone who had only worked in retail settings before, it was quite a challenge. Learning such things as HIPAA regulations and quality control was difficult initially, as there was just so much to learn. Pharmacy is one of the jobs where it is very “sink or swim.” One will either succeed and be a technician for years to come or they will crack under pressure and quit very quickly. I was fortunate enough to be the first, despite the challenges of COVID compounding the difficulty of the work.

Many retail-chain pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens, etc.) give technicians anywhere from nine to twelve months to obtain their certifications. One is only eligible for the exam upon completing an approved education program, such as at a community college, or obtaining 500 hours in a professional work setting. The exam, headed by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, is a technically challenging exam with 90 questions involving four categories covering medications, federal requirements, patient safety and quality control, and order entry and processing. A technician must obtain 1400 out of 1600 possible points to pass. As a result of my devoted studying, I obtained a score of 1572, which is approximately the equivalent of missing one question on the exam. At the time of writing, I have been a pharmacy technician for over three years. My knowledge in this field has only expanded since then. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be involved in such an integral part of people’s lives, and I hope that such skills will continue to serve me as a professional social worker.

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