Magazine article Drug Topics

Crash Course

Magazine article Drug Topics

Crash Course

Article excerpt

Pharmacy technicians who want a piece of paper attesting to their competency had better sharpen their No. 2 pencils to take the first nationwide certification examination slated for July 29.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board is busy making arrangements with a testing service to create a valid credentialing process. It is also working with state pharmacist organizations to coordinate marketing efforts to get out the word about the voluntary program. The national certification program is one way to formally define and recognize the role technicians play in today's pharmacy. The program includes only the exam, not any educational materials techs may need to bone up.

The PTCB is a freestanding corporation created by the American Pharmaceutical Association, ASHP, the Illinois Council of Hospital Pharmacists, and the Michigan Pharmacists Association. The Illinois and Michigan groups had already created separate technician certification examinations that were licensed to other state associations.

Opposition to a national certification program for technicians has come from NARD and from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores through their joint Community Retail Pharmacy Working Group. Their published position that such certification is "inappropriate, unnecessary, and not reflecting the unique needs of community retail pharmacy practice" has not changed, said NARD spokesman Todd Dankmyer.

The retail pharmacy groups recognize and support proper training and utilization of technicians at a time when community pharmacists are assuming more patient-focused care, according to a joint statement. The problem is that they believe training techs is more important than certification and that even if techs are certified, they will still have to be trained by their employers for a specific setting.

Another issue raised by the retail working group is the revenue that will flow to the certification sponsors from the examination process targeting an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 technicians. A consultant to APhA's Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties estimated that the fees would bring in about $625,000 annually, but fees could be set higher if employers agreed to pick up the tab for their technicians, according to a position paper that was issued by NARD/NACDS last April. …

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