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Pharmacy Tech program sets the bar higher than new PTCB standards

 

Sam Varghese, Chair of the Pharmacy Tech Program, said that starting January 1st, 2020, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) will raise standards for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination. The PTCB credential is required for most pharmacy tech positions across the U.S. In fact, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on October 25th  making it mandatory that all New York State pharmacy techs – in order to gain and maintain their status as Registered Pharmacy Technicians – hold a PTCB certification and register with the New York State Board of Pharmacy. Mr. Varghese is pleased with this news because our program was just cited as meeting or exceeding the standards set forth by the PTCB. To note, as ASA College’s Pharmacy Technology Program is recognized by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, all students in our Pharmacy Tech program will be fast-tracked for the exam. In his words, “I’m very confident that the knowledge that we’re providing students, the training that they’re getting, is more than enough to get the certification.”

Not just a product of the PTCB’s glowing review, Mr. Varghese’s confidence in ASA’s degree program stems from the fact that our graduates are having no trouble passing their certification exams and attaining jobs. He says, “In the last three months, three graduates, even before they graduated, sat for the exam. They passed and got jobs.” In fact, employment opportunities for our graduates will only grow, according to Mr. Varghese, because the PCTB certification is accepted by every state board of pharmacy in the country. The PTCB cites this statistic about the career outlook for pharmacy techs, “The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) anticipates “faster than average” employment growth for pharmacy technicians, growing more than 7% from 2018 to 2028.”[i]

PTCB standards have set a higher bar for pharmacy techs because the field has gotten more complicated since the inception of the PTCB certification in 1995. Mr. Varghese cited some eye-opening statistics about the increased need for medication in our country. American adults above the age of 65 take 10-12 medications per day on average. As these medications will inevitably have interactions that need to be considered, the role of the pharmacist as a counselor and monitor is ever more complex. In the case of Medicare and Medicaid patients, this counseling is government-mandated. Between government regulations, pharmaceutical industry liabilities, and health care system/hospital oversight, billions of dollars are being spent every year to avoid medication error. At the heart of most incidents of medication error is, as Mr. Varghese says, “communication. The doctor is trying to communicate with the patient through the prescription, and also with the pharmacist.”

Well-trained pharmacy techs – ASA pharmacy techs – have an opportunity to help address this situation. We offer 60 credits in our Associate Degree, within which are 30 core credits from the pharmacy major. Pharmacy techs with this background are much more prepared to communicate with doctors, pharmacists, and patients. As William Schimmel, PTCB Executive Director and CEO said, “Pharmacy employers can be confident that PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians have demonstrated they have the knowledge to advance patient care in today’s pharmacy.”[ii] Because qualified pharmacy techs have the ability to affect the system and patients’ lives, it can be a very rewarding profession. As Mr. Varghese points out, “if he or she gets trained, the tech could lead the way, could lead us toward a better way.”

[i] https://www.ptcb.org/i-want-to-be-a-cpht/envision-your-career
[ii] https://www.ptcb.org/news/ptcb-certification-eligibility-requirements-to-change-in-2020
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