Magazine article Drug Topics

PTCB Pushes for National Tech Certification Standard

Magazine article Drug Topics

PTCB Pushes for National Tech Certification Standard

Article excerpt

The position of pharmacy technician has grown and evolved dramatically over the past 11 years. And, as technicians grow in importance at many chain and independent pharmacies, so too has the technician certification exam.

Recently, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) announced that it has arrived at a major milestone, reaching 250,000 Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs). "A good technician can make or break a day in practice, and we see a really bright future for the profession," said Melissa Murer Corrigan, R.Ph., PTCB's executive director and CEO.

Recognizing the increasing importance of technicians and the need to develop standards for the profession, PTCB was formed in 1995 by the American Pharmacists Association, ASHP, the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Michigan Pharmacists Association. In 2002, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy also joined the founding organizations. Since that time, the certification exam has been adopted by 30 states, although there are CPhTs in all 50 states.

To be certified, applicants are expected to have at least a high school diploma or GED and to pass the PTCB exam. The exam assesses the knowledge and skill base for typical activities performed in the work of pharmacy technicians-both retail and hospital. To maintain certification, technicians must accrue at least 20 hours of continuing education credit over a two-year period for the national standard.

One of the primary reasons certification has grown so significantly has been the support of many chains. "All the major chains have embraced the PTCB certification process," explained Corrigan. "Employers want to manage their risk."

Albertsons strongly encourages technicians to take the exam-regardless of whether it is required by the state. According to Patrick Wickham, corporate technician trainer at Albertsons and a member of PTCB's stakeholder policy council, the company will pay for the exam and also provides training that is designed around the exam. "We encourage it, whether technicians go through our internal program or take it on their own," he explained. "It is important to have a national standard. For the profession it sets a bar across the board."

What's more, the exam has become more than just a marker of what technicians know; it is seen as a key step in the development of the pharmacy technician profession. …

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