The Importance of Continuing Education for Pharmacy Technicians – Part 1

  • Pharmacy Technician
  • March 25, 2024
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  • 4 min read
The Importance of Continuing Education for Pharmacy Technicians - Part 1

Are you currently working as a pharmacy technician or considering going to school to pursue a career path within the pharmacy industry? If so, you are likely aware that pharmacy technician licensees must participate in regular continuing education to maintain their license in good standing. 

You may wonder why it is such a big deal, given that you hope to learn (or have already learned) the foundational skills needed to become a pharmacy tech while attending school. That said, while the modern pharmacy industry has been around for decades, it continues to evolve rapidly due to corresponding changes in the pharmaceutical industry. 

Continuing education helps pharmacy technicians stay up-to-date or (ideally) ahead of the curve in the fast-evolving pharmacy industry. This multi-part article will explain the benefits of continuing education so that the next time you are required to attend a CE course, you are (hopefully) excited about the opportunity instead of dreading it.

The world of medicine moves fast…and by medicine, we mean pharmaceuticals (for this article). It seems like every week a new “potential blockbuster” drug comes onto the market, and inevitably, patients begin asking about these new drugs as the Big Pharma marketing machine kicks into gear. Here’s why keeping up is key to your success as a pharmacy technician.

New Medications 

As stated above, pharmaceutical scientists work daily to bring new medications to market to help people feel better. These may include new iterations on existing drug categories (e.g. new statins for cardiovascular health or new cystic fibrosis drug regiments that represent combinations of previous medications). 

As physicians learn about new medications, they begin prescribing them. Sometimes, that transition can happen quickly if the clinical trial data supporting the medication is strong enough. Pharmacy technicians who actively pursue continuing education learn about these new drugs as these shifts occur instead of after the fact, so they are more prepared to process these prescriptions like pros.

Updated Regulations

Laws about medications can change, as well. For example, the opioid epidemic has brought about many changes related to patient education and monitoring of patient prescription records. Another example includes recent changes to make certain forms of birth control available over the counter instead of through prescriptions only. 

Pharmacy technicians who refrain from participating in regular continuing education run the risk of running afoul of new laws designed to keep patients safe or providing incorrect information about the current status of pharmacy law. By continuing to learn, technicians ensure they always follow the most essential rules, keeping patients safe and their employers free from liability.

That said, many pharmacy employers are national chains with large compliance departments. It is typical for these large chains to provide internal continuing education to technicians to ensure they are prepared for such regulatory changes.

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Advances in Technology 

Pharmacies operations are incorporating more advanced technology than ever. Some of these technologies have been around for quite a while in some form or another, such as digital pharmacy records. Others have emerged more recently, such as automated dispensing systems, which have become possible due to advances in machinery and have become popularized by big technology companies (like Pill Pack, owned by Amazon).

Still, other technological advancements have emerged building upon previous technological innovations. One poignant example is the practice of e-prescriptions, where prescriptions are automatically transmitted from a medical facility to a pharmacy. This practice has only become possible now that most medical facilities and pharmacies have adopted electronic records, given that both sides of the transaction must have made the digital transition for this to be possible. 

Regularly engaging in continuing education courses means you won’t get left behind when new gadgets and software are introduced to the market. You may even be able to introduce your pharmacy to the concept of adopting some of this cool new technology!

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Conclusion

Continuing education offers numerous benefits to pharmacy technicians. We spoke about a few of them in this article, and we will expand upon these concepts and more in Part 2 of this multi-part article. Stay tuned for more details next month!

Samantha Huntsman
Author
Pharmacy Technician Program Chair

Raised in Cedar City in southern Utah, Samantha ended up in Nevada in 2014 after moving here from Minnesota to escape the winter. After graduating from Cedar City High School, Samantha moved to Southern Utah University where she got her…Read Full Bio