Will the need for pharmacy technicians persist?

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for more helping hands in pharmacies, especially for vaccinations, and opportunities for technicians may last.

On average, I get 2 inquiries per week from pharmacy managers who want my help in locating qualified people to fill pharmacy technician vacancies.

These are positions in community pharmacy, hospital and outpatient pharmacy, long-term care facility pharmacy, mail order pharmacies, specialized compounding pharmacy and veterinary pharmacy. Most positions offer pay on the high side of the technician pay scale, and most pharmacy managers are in a frantic state to hire technician help.

Is there an increase in the need for skilled pharmacy technicians because new positions have been created to complement new vaccine administration, point-of-care testing and other advanced positions to meet flow requirements COVID-19 work? Is there a slight increase just because the nuances of the COVID-19 workflow need more help? Or is the increase due to technician turnover as staff members leave the workforce creating a gap? Or maybe it’s a mix of the 3, maybe?

I see a constant flow of newcomers to the profession who acquire specific technician education and training. Successful completion of studies is followed by certification and entry into the workforce of technicians. Maintaining the certification title requires a renewal process. At this point of renewal, I see an ephemeral in the technician workforce. There is a marked drop in the renewal of technician certification. Technicians who take up the role of trainee pharmacist requiring a different title and scope explain certain non-renewals. Some technicians leave the workforce to retire. Most transitional activities, however, are the result of people leaving the technical workforce for higher paying jobs in different types of work environment.

Michelle Porter, CPhT-Adv, a technician specializing in investigational drug services at Moses H. Cone Hospital in Greensboro, NC, discussed the rise in technician jobs, due to the COVID-workflow. 19 which requires more helping hands.

“As COVID-19 cases started to rise again, technicians had to build pyxis machines with the time needed for drugs, learn the right ones [personal protective equipment] procedures and find a good way to deliver the drugs to the COVID-19 units to ensure the safety of the personnel. Patient safety and our own safety are key during this difficult time when we have had to adapt and be flexible to do our jobs, ”Porter said.

“Delivery to COVID-19 units with proper procedures in place for the returns and cleaning of our medication carts while also paying attention to the table notes during medication history. [was done] everything to ensure the safety of our staff, ”she said.

the Summary of the Pharmacy Demand Report compiled and offered by Pharmacy Workforce Center, Inc., examines the rising data to get a snapshot of technician positions open versus technician’s number in the workforce.1 From the start of 2021 until the end of the third quarter, there were 124,547 shared technician job vacancies across the country.1 California had the most openings, at 13,202, and Wyoming had the least, at 107.1

Data from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) shows that 279,806 people have achieved their CPhT designation.2 There are also other entities that provide certification, such as state specific entities and ExCPhT, as well as people working as technicians where certification is not required by state pharmaceutical regulations. Annual averages reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics on the Workers by Occupation and Industry 2020 report show 336,000 technicians in the workforce, with a median age of 34.2 year.3

Will the rise in technician jobs continue after the decrease in COVID-related needs?

“Having trained pharmacy technicians who can provide vaccines has been invaluable during this pandemic. The foundation was formed so that they could continue to vaccinate once the [Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act] ends, ”Todd Larimer, RPh, and the pharmacy director of an outpatient community pharmacy in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

“My hope is that the pharmacy profession embraces the idea,” he said.

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Judy L. Neville, CPHT, CPST, is the Pharmacy Technician Program Director of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at Omaha.

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The references

1. Executive summary of the Pharmacy Demand Report (RDP). Pharmacy Workforce Center Inc. First Quarter 2021. Accessed January 4, 2022. https://www.aacp.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/pharmacy-demand-report-04192021.pdf

2. Certified pharmacy technician (CPhT). Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Accessed January 4, 2021. https://www.ptcb.org/credentials/certified-pharmacy-technician

3. Labor force statistics from the current population survey. United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. January 22, 2021. Accessed January 4, 2022. https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18b.htm

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