Becoming a Pharmacy Technician Is a Good Step Towards Becoming a Pharmacist

Due to increasing healthcare demands the pharmaceutical industry is rapidly growing and changing. In the past, it was not necessary for pharmacy technicians to obtain any type of certification. However, because it is becoming significantly more competitive in obtaining industry related jobs, certification has been one way potential pharmacy techs can stand out from the other job applicants. In addition, many certified pharmacy techs are finding that their jobs are excellent stepping-stones towards becoming a pharmacist.

Pharmacy tech education programs usually require an individual to attend six months to two years of educational training. These programs are offered through a variety of organizations, like vocational schools, community colleges, hospitals, and even the military. A good pharmacy tech educational program will have areas of study that include:

– Medical and Pharmaceutical Terminology
– Pharmacy Record Keeping
– Pharmaceutical Calculations
– Pharmacy Law and Ethics

Individuals in these programs are also required to obtain knowledge about the uses, names, actions, and doses of the many types of medications they will be working with. Several of these training programs also include internships with pharmacies, in order for the students to obtain hands on experience. Upon finishing these programs, students that show proficiency will either receive a certificate of completion or an Associate Degree. One benefit to the programs that allow students to earn a degree is that very often those degree credits can be transferred to a school offering pharmacy degrees.

Obtaining a pharmacy tech certificate not only allows individuals to stand out when it comes to finding a place of employment, many schools will give preferential treatment to those they feel have already proven that they have a commitment to pharmaceutical work. The schools do this for several reasons:

– Individuals who have taken the time to obtain a certificate show a commitment to furthering their education.
– Certified pharmacy technicians are familiar with what it takes to keep a pharmacy running smoothly.
– Due to the rigors of the certification process, pharmacy technicians possess a basic knowledge of medications, their uses, and proper dosing amounts.

Many pharmacy students who have worked as pharmacy technicians also find that it is easier for them to get prime pharmacy internship slots, since they are already familiar with the inner workings of a pharmacy. The same can be said for recent pharmacy school graduates who previously held a pharmacy technician certificate. Many companies view pharmacists, who also took the time to earn a technician certificate, as someone they have to invest less time and money in for training.

Pharmacy techs who spend time obtaining a certificate from a recognized training program have many benefits that a technician who has only received on-the-job training does not have. The training certificate makes it easier for the new technician to get a job in the pharmaceutical field, and it also helps him or her stand out from the other pharmacy school applicants. Overall, many people find that a career as a pharmacy technician is an excellent stepping-stone to furthering their education and becoming a pharmacist.

How to Become a Pharmacy Technician

All of us, at some or the other point in our lives, have visited a pharmacy. It could be for buying over the counter medicine for something as innocuous as a headache or getting doctor prescribed drugs for a slightly more serious illness.

Have you ever wondered about the people working at these pharmacies, running around on the orders of the usually bespectacled and somber-looking pharmacists?

These professionals are called pharmacy technicians and their core job is to assist the pharmacists in a bunch of pharmacy-related tasks including helping them prepare prescription medication upon receiving patient or physician requests; interacting with customers; and performing routine administrative tasks. Sounds like something you would like to do? Then read on further to know how to become a pharmacy technician.

Pharmacy techs vs. aides

Although pharmacy tech and pharmacy aides are two separate roles within a pharmaceutical environment, some technicians may be required to perform the duties of an aide as well especially in smaller settings.

Technically, while pharmacy techs provide customer support and fulfill pharmacy-related duties, pharmacy aides are responsible for clerical tasks like answering phones, handling cash registers, stocking shelves, preparing and processing insurance forms, and maintaining patient records.

In addition to the tasks already discussed, pharmacy technicians may be required to instruct and educate patients on the use of prescription drugs and medical devices. They also verify the information on prescription for accuracy and completeness.

How to become a pharmacy tech?

Although there are no specific educational requirements for this job, increasingly, there has been a shift towards hiring trained and certified pharmacy techs. If you are keen on breaking into this field, it’s best to be armed with some kind of post-secondary vocational training.

Pharmacy technician training courses are available at career schools, hospitals and community colleges and offer a shorter, more affordable alternative to a college degree. While a college degree would take a minimum of two years, a pharmacy technician training program can be completed within a few months.

Vocational training in this field is also available online. However, if you would rather go to college for your pharmacy tech training, then some degree programs you can consider are:

• Associate of Science in Pharmacy Tech
• Associate of Science in Allied Health
• Associate of Science in Medical Specialties

As part of your training, you will be required to take courses related to pharmacology, medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy law and regulations, institutional and retail pharmacy, etc.

Aspirants of this job may find it worthwhile to prepare the ground for their post-secondary training in the field by taking courses in math, health and life sciences in high school.

Certification and experience

Certification requirements may vary from state to state, but most of them do not require pharmacy techs to be certified. However, considering the competitive landscape of the current job market, certification may help your cause of finding work.

Certification may also mean higher paychecks and greater choice in terms of roles and responsibilities for pharmacy techs.

Certification examinations are conducted by organizations like the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians.

Hands-on experience is an important part of pharmacy technician training. Many training programs may include internships or practicums to provide students a taste of real world situations. If these are not formally incorporated in your training program, then all you need to do is approach your friendly neighborhood pharmacists and ask for their permission to let you assist them.

How to Become a Qualified Pharmacy Technician

One of the professions you might want to consider in the health care industry is a pharmacy technician (PT). The career of PT’s these days is booming. Some of the daily duties is to assist in preparing medications and to provide customer service. They also receive pharmaceutical requests. They count the tablets before labeling the medication bottles. They may also perform clerical duties, if they are employed in a place where there are no pharmacy aides available. Basically, they work under the supervision of a pharmacist. Some owners of pharmacies tend to hire pharmacy techs to do both clerical and administrative duties, rather than employing pharmacy aides. This is one of the reasons pharmacy aide opportunities are decreasing.

Starting salary

A pharmacy tech’s duty is to measure, mix, count, label and record the dosage of prescription medications. Those who work in this field can have a starting annual salary rate of more than $19,000 with an hourly rate of over $9. Those pharmacy techs working in a federal executive branch earn the highest salary of more than $39,000 a year with an hourly mean wage of more than $19. The biggest employers for pharmacy technologists are those that belong to the health and personal care stores. In terms of geography, the highest employment level in the PT occupation is in California. The figures mentioned here came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2010 report.


Pharmacy techs who work during weekends or beyond business hours are paid more through the shift differential’s scheme. Companies may pay them 25 cents or more for working on Saturdays, Sundays or in the evenings.

How to become a pharmacy tech?

If you want to pursue a pharmacy technician career, you must have a high school diploma, as one of its requirements. Most states require their pharmacy technicians to register with the state board of pharmacy before they can work as a pharmacy technician in one of the pharmacy-related companies in the US. Certification for pharmacy technician is not mandatory. However, obtaining a certificate increases your chances of getting hired and earning a higher salary than those who do not have a certificate. The following are two of the private organizations that offer certification examinations for pharmacy techs:

-The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board

-The Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians

Eligibility requirements for certification examinations will include:

-High school diploma

-No felony convictions

-No pharmacy-related convictions

-The actual cost of the examinations may be reimbursed by the employer.

The job outlook for the pharmacy tech career is positive. The job growth is increasing positively. Therefore, you will expect to find plenty of job opportunities in the near future. As long as you have the right training, proper education, and substantial amount of experience, you can easily win over the competition.

The Way Internet Pharmacy Reviews Will Help Buyers Get the Best Shipping and Delivery Choices

Buying medicines from an online pharmacy is a necessity nowadays, and online generic pharmacies make it more affordable. However, customers should check which online pharmacy provides them with the right terms in terms of price and shipping cost.

With the global financial slump, people do not want to become ill today. A visit to the health care provider sometimes costs large sums of money. Getting prescription medication from the nearest pharmacy is an inconvenience, too. The option to order medicine online provides a more affordable remedy to the problem. There are also generic pharmacies on the web and they provide some of the right medications for consumers who would like to use the internet in buying drugs. Pharmacy reviews help out with picking the right online pharmacy to buy from.

The majority of online generic pharmacies have a wide range of products to choose from. You can choose from common drugs such as antibiotics, pain relief drugs, and allergy relief medications.They also have generic drugs for erectile dysfunction as well as some popular weight loss pills. However, because these are online retailers,people have to be aware that there are shipping costs charged by a number of online generic pharmacies. Obviously, that’s not always the case, as online pharmacy reviews will indicate. One generic pharmacy will not charge shipping fees, while another may charge their customers per delivery.

Polices with regards to the length of shipping and shipping price varies. As an example, some top-ranked web based generic pharmacies ship by means of registered mail and EMS. It will take about 10 to 21 business days for drugs to be shipped to customers by means of registered air mail, while EMS takes 7 to 10 business days.

EMS costs much more than registered mail, plus they only ship to a number of countries. Web based generic pharmacies will give consumers a tracking number when their purchases are shipped. Customers can now have the convenience of tracking their purchases on the web.

The duration of shipping days depends on the internet based generic pharmacy. Consumers should take a look at pharmacy reviews on the web to determine what would suit their needs. Generally speaking, a client is encouraged to submit a home address for the reason that some online pharmacies won’t process orders when delivered to post office boxes. However, it’s a good idea to check with them because some online pharmacies ship to PO boxes.

Some online pharmacies will ship 48 to 90 tablets on numerous deliveries.You can find online pharmacies that usually do not ship to what they consider as high-risk nations like Ghana, Cambodia, Haiti, and Russia. Many will even reship orders if they do not show up within a three week period and if the address provided is correct.

If an order is not delivered or is damaged during the shipping process, the online pharmacy can offer a total refund or issue a second shipment at the customer’s request. It would take 21 business days before an order is shipped. Online generic pharmacies have toll free numbers in addition to local numbers available for customers and they do not process orders on a weekend.

Shipping and refund procedures vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. It is best to check with your online generic pharmacy on their own regulations regarding shipping, delivery, and refund. Nowadays, every consumer should ensure he receives what he purchased and they should only do business with an online generic pharmacy that offers the best price and shipping cost. Pharmacy reviews can help you decide which online pharmacy offers a smooth shipment process, making sure that your purchases are shipped properly and by the due date.

Pharmacy Technician Degrees And Certification For Better Career Prospect With Lucrative Salary

You may be planning to make your career in Pharmacy field by becoming a Pharmacy Technician. But, are you aware of the various Degrees and Certification that can be availed by completing different types of training programs. But, before we continue with the technician degree and certification, let us find out, who pharmacy working personnel are and, how degrees are helpful in their pharmacy career perusal.

Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy professionals are these working individuals, who aid a licensed pharmacist in running his medication store, by helping him in prescription preparation, offer safe and quality customer care and services, provide medications to patients, perform administrative duties, inform them about various effects of the drugs, look after cash counter, bottle labeling, arrange and pack drugs, and perform multiple common pharmacy works.

A technician works in different types of pharmacy settings, such as drug store, retail pharmacies, chain pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, super market medication store and so on. He/she is also well versed with state and federal pharmacy law, rules and regulations, which are essential for safe and effective customer and patient services.


Though, it is not necessary to pursue any formal academic course for working in a Pharmacy but, availing the proper education, training and certification highly brighten their job prospects and provide them opportunities to earn higher salary. The advancement in medical science and technology, and discovery of numerous new life saving drugs have also prompted Pharmacy owners to employ professionalized, knowledgeable and skillful technicians.

There are many community colleges, schools, trade schools and online training programs, which offers various degrees to a Pharmacy Technician.

Different types of Pharmacy Degrees can be summed up as follows:

These certificates offer training programs, which train an individual for a retail or clinical environment, by providing basic and fundamental skills necessary to perform the job functions in these settings. These Certificate programs can be completed in less than a year. Only, high school diploma is pre-requisite for entering this program.

These diploma programs are prepared to supplement the prior accrued knowledge, with skill based education. Many students holding associate degrees in medical assisting or similar degrees and planning to enter pharmacy field, opt for this program. The duration of the course is around one year and this course also prepares a student for his/her Certification program.

Associate’s degrees
This program provides more detailed knowledge and skills as compared to certificate and diploma course. Associate degree program offers broad training on medical field, together with focused training in pharmacy practice. The student is also offered outside externship for practical hand-on job experience, which makes a student familiar with exact pharmacy working conditions and makes him ready, when he/she join any pharmacy for working.

By availing these degrees, a Technician can highly brightens his job prospects with better salaries and can also avail Pharmacy Technician Certification by passing PTCB test.

Pharmacy Technician Certification – Job Or Healthcare Career Stepping Stone?

If you are deciding whether a pharmacy technician job is right for you, then this article will help point out why you should go for it. You can either make pharm tech a career or use it as a stepping stone to get into another healthcare career. Either way, pharm tech is a good entry option for obtaining a career in healthcare.

Career, pharmacy technician is a good career option. It is relatively easy to get in to, most states require very little to become a pharm tech and the most difficult states require only two semesters of education. Healthcare is a necessary industry, it isn’t like people are about to stop using medications anytime soon. Pay is pretty good, it tops out at about $18-20/hour in most states (about $40 thousand/year). If you stay in the field, there are pharmacy technicians that get between $20 to $30/hour for specializing or taking on higher level tasks (eg, pharmacy buyer of a large inpatient hospital pharmacy). There are a lot of career options as a pharm tech. You can work in retail pharmacies all across the country, majority of hospital pharmacies employee technicians for drug distribution in the hospital. Home care, long-term care, and mail order are other types of pharmacies that employ pharm techs. Finally, you can be a pharmacy technician just about anywhere. This of course is because you can find a pharmacy just about anywhere.

Stepping stone, many healthcare positions have to know about medication. This makes being a pharmacy technician and obtaining a good knowledge about medications a great stepping stone job for most healthcare careers. Besides obtaining knowledge about medications, there are many pharm tech positions that can work weekends, evenings, and graveyards. This makes it possible to earn enough to live on while attending college full-time. Let’s look at a few of the key careers that benefit from having a pharmacy technician training first. Pharmacist, this of course is the road I took. I was a pharmacy tech for over 8 years before starting pharmacy school. I really enjoyed being a pharmacy technician and the field of pharmacy. One of my pharmacists recommended I go to pharmacy school. So I did, and in pharmacy school I found that my experience as a pharm tech gave me an advantage over those who weren’t. When we were learning medications, I already had the generic, brand, and drug class down. This meant that I could focus on learning the details of each drug versus some of my classmates who needed to study the names of the medications. Medical doctor, I know a couple of technicians that went on to medical school. The same principles apply as to pharmacy school. As a doctor, you need to know about medications and how much of a bonus would it be to already know the drugs and classes. Nurse, many pharmacy technicians go on to nursing school. Having a good working knowledge about medications as a nurse is a fundamental skill. To start off with that knowledge before even starting nursing school is great.

The best part about pharmacy technician being a stepping stone is that it makes way for new technicians to take their place. This means that pharmacy technician is a career field that always has openings. Because of this group of technicians who will eventually leave their position as they transition to a new career, we will always have a need for seasoned pharm techs to train, manage, and be the anchor for out technician work force. Being this anchor comes with the benefit if higher wages and job satisfaction. In the end, whether planned or not, pharmacy technician is a great place to start. To maximize your chances of getting a job, check out my article on 3 strategies for getting a job.

Finding Your Dream Pharmacy Is Now a Reality With Pharmacy Loans

Every pharmacist dreams of starting a pharmacy. And, lenders are giving wings to this dream. They have made financing so simple that a recent pharmacy graduate or even an associate can start his / her pharmacy without any trouble.

Why Should I Get a Pharmacy Loan?

The main objective of a pharmacy loan is to ensure growth of your business. You can use it for a number of purposes. I have listed a few of them here:

>> Buy your start-up pharmacy practice

>> Acquire another pharmacy practice

>> Expand/remodel your existing pharmacy practice

>> Purchase equipment for your pharmacy practice, including fit outs

>> Refinance your existing pharmacy practice loan

Eligibility Criteria for Pharmacy Loans

Specialist lenders/credit providers offer Pharmacy loans to:

>> Recent graduate

>> Associate, and

>> A seasoned pharmacist

Understanding your Financial Situation

Buying a new or existing pharmacy premises or even pharmacy equipment is not a simple task. You need to consider several aspects and then make a profitable decision. Here is the list of things that you should consider before applying for a pharmacy loan:

>> Business opportunities

>> Your overheads and running expenses

>> Amount and term of the pharmacy loan

>> Structure of the loan (Fixed / Variable / Combination / Interest only content)

>> Expected interest rate

>> Redraws, and

>> Early repayment provisions (i.e. Exit Strategy)

Importance of Using a Finance Broker when getting your Pharmacy Loan

Every financial decision is considered only after meticulous planning. Most pharmacists don’t have adequate finance knowledge. So, it is wise to work out your business plan with a professionally qualified and experienced finance broker. You should sit down with a finance broker and:

>> Look at your overall financial position

>> Establish a suitable Due Diligence/Business Plan, and

>> Create a Budget

A professionally qualified finance broker will advise you and provide you with financial knowledge of pharmacy businesses. The finance broker will help you in eliminating options that are beyond your budget and save your valuable time. If you employ a brokerage firm, you won’t have to run around from lender to lender trying to arrange finance. The finance broker will understand your needs and present you with a number of loan options. He/she will also help you in choosing the best loan package.

Truly, having a loan specialist will make pharmacy loans simpler for you. The finance broker will turn your pharmacy dream into a reality. So, next time, you want finance for your pharmacy business; don’t forget to employ the services of a professionally qualified finance broker.

mAdherence and mHealth Trends Advance Pharmacy ROI

Is What We Knew Last Month Now History?

Who reading here believes that what we thought we knew last month is now history? In our environ of rapid, almost immediate (if not daily) changes, how will these challenges cause our customer service and patient-oriented adherence activities to change?

Being successful as a pharmacy owner or hospital outpatient pharmacy director today demands constant awareness of the proposed national mandates… and more importantly… immediate understanding of the impact on the pharmacy’s ROI (return on investment). Knowing which low-level profitable pharmacy workflow activities demand the most time to complete can allow pharmacy workflow adjustments so less time is spent on these human resource consuming efforts.

These understandings can be used to improve ROI success… even though they are unique to each and every pharmacy. Will this knowledge support establishment of more available time that can be used in the high-level profitable areas? It can when selected pharmacy workflow functions are re-assigned and enhanced patient education occurs. A major result is enhanced medication adherence by patients.

Challenges to ROI Come From Everywhere

Today, challenges to pharmacy ROI are more frequent with many a result of the virtualization trends that are occurring. What do you know about mAdherence (mobile adherence) and mHealth (mobile health) and how they can impact ROI?

It’s well known that the solution to any problem lies at the base of that problem. With this in mind, why not accelerate implementation of mAdherence and mHealth efforts to support awareness of the high-level profitable pharmacy workflow activities? Which elements or steps of pharmacy workflow and patient education for medication and therapy adherence can be categorized low-level profitable or high-level profitable? No doubt the categorization will be unique to each pharmacy operation, yet there are some similarities.

Defining the Time-Takers, the Time-Savers and the Money-Makers

Rather than abruptly considering Time-Takers as “aliens invading our pharmacy workflow planet”, most pharmacists understand several time-taker type activities fall into two categories: pharmacy workflow and secondly, patient education/medication and therapy adherence activities completed by the pharmacist and staff. Within traditional pharmacy workflow, simple casual observation suggests the selection/counting/filling/verification and prescription adjudication areas are the largest Time-Takers. It is also easy to consider the effort (and time) needed to complete patient education and adherence activities as another Time-Taker.

But which Time-Savers are available to challenge these Time-Takers? How might the Time-Savers convert Time-Takers into Money-Makers? The Time-Taker activity of selection/counting/filling/verification activity can be easily and quickly converted. The answer: Automated Pharmacy Dispensing. Numerous systems for automated counting and automated dispensing are available in today’s automation environ. Only certain of these systems however can eliminate as many as 7-9 of the necessary steps involved in the selection/counting/filling/verification sequence. Prescription adjudication, insurance problem solving and therapy management adjustments by the pharmacist… on the other hand… can also often be another time-consuming effort (opportunity?).

Some independent pharmacies and select hospital outpatient pharmacies dedicate senior pharmacy technicians to solve potential adjudication issues or care transition needs in advance of the dispensing and education/adherence process. Upcoming fills for any individual can be pre-screened for possible insurance issues, combination with other forthcoming refills, pre-authorization of payments for medication therapy management and other health-supporting activities (immunizations, body mass, etc.).

Working through whether or not a patient has an insurance payer that will support medication therapy management efforts before any discussion with the patient saves considerable discussion time later, allows them to understand the complexity of the activity and diffuses patient aggravation.

Are Pharmacy Case Managers An Answer?

The concept of pharmacy-completed, patient-specific, healthcare “case management” approaches are new to the profession. With support from full-time (as opposed to part-time) senior certified and registered pharmacy technicians responsible for specific patients, these technicians can work with the patient/customer supporting the advance of the patient’s health improvement. These approaches are not unlike those being using by hospital outpatient pharmacies in their care transition efforts for discharged patients.

Incorporation of mAdherence (mobile adherence) and mHealth (mobile health) through the use of specifically designed smart phone apps with this case manager approach converts the Time-Takers into Time-Savers enlarging Money-Maker opportunities. The patients subsequently feel they are a family member of the “pharmacy” and have a pharmacy medication/therapy home.

Although it would first appear most Time-Takers might never be considered Money-Makers, the use of adjustments in approach to effecting traditional pharmacy workflow and patient adherence activities can actually elevate these Time-Takers into Time-Savers and Money-Makers.

Pharmacy Technician Training – How to Get the Best Job Afterward

Anyone with an interest in a rewarding career in the healthcare services field as a pharmacy technician will need to obtain a considerable amount of education and pharmacy technician training in order to become certified (or registered in the UK).

Certified Pharmacy Technicians have the ability to work in a wide variety of jobs in the field, many more so than simply assisting at the pharmacy counter at a local or chain retail drugstore.

The needed education is very specific though, with students attending specialized courses (unless they have decided to earn their Associates Degree as well, in which case a regular college curriculum is supplemented with courses necessary for obtaining the CPhT).

What Kind of Pharmacy Technician Training is Necessary?

There are numerous types of pharmacy technician programs available which provide education and training for pharmacy techs. They differ greatly, however; 10-week (and other shorter) programs, generally called “certificate” programs – not to be confused with “certification” programs – typically give a general overview of the profession, introduce the student to the basics of becoming a pharmacy tech in a retail setting, and enable students to apply for those types of jobs.

On the other hand, diploma programs generally take 1 year or more, prepare the student to pass the exam to receive their CPhT certification, and are extremely in depth. There are also online studies that sit somewhere in the middle of these, but the main difference with certification courses is that they have a required externship where students learn through hands-on experience.

Generally, study courses found in typical certification programs and Associates’ Degree specialized courses include the following: Human Anatomy, Chemistry, Human Physiology, Pharmacology, Medical/Pharmaceutical Terminology, Pharmacy Administration and Computing, Pharmacy Inventory Control, Dosages and Calculations, Pharmaceutical Law, Medication Preparation, Drug Compounding, Prescription Labeling, Drug Emergencies, Medical/Insurance Billing, and a number of other, specialized topics.

Additionally, any students also earning an Associates’ Degree will be completing the general courses associated with that.

Externships Are a Part of Pharmacy Technician Training

All CPhT and (UK) Registered Pharmacy Tech programs complete with a certain amount of on the job training via an externship. For CPht Courses, they usually require the student to accrue 400 or more hours working under the supervision of a licensed Pharmacist, and usually take place in a retail pharmacy environment.

In the UK and abroad, some of the hands-on requirements are much more extensive, with as much as a year or more of working experience necessary in order for techs to become Registered.

The amount of time, and other specifics, also depends greatly on the level of specialty and job position that the technician wishes to obtain. In general though, it should be assumed that the programs with externships are those that provide the highest qualifications, the best jobs and the most pay.

Employment After Pharmacy Technician Training

Once having completed the educational and work experience requirements, and being awarded their certifications, qualified pharmacy technicians can fill a number of different jobs, beginning of course with employment in a retail pharmacy.

Beyond that however, more challenging and better paying positions exist in hospitals, outpatient facilities, inpatient facilities, specialty pharmacies like compounding pharmacies, pharmacy supply companies, health insurance companies and many more.

With the certification of CPhT or being a Registered pharmacy technician, more responsibilities and duties follow, but these all provide for much better employment opportunities.

Continuing Education

Once having earned the necessary certifications, pharmacy technicians are usually then required to accrue a certain amount of hours of continuing education per year in order to keep their certifications current. This can happen in a number of different ways, though it is usually done through attending educational conferences and study courses.

Requirements vary greatly depending on the certification, the country and state, and the position in which the pharmacy technician is employed.

Continuing education is not that difficult to keep up with however, and should not be viewed as being so. In actuality, it is a way for those already working in the field to keep up with new medications, new procedures, updated laws, healthcare and insurance policies and other topics that change quite frequently.

As anyone should be able to see, there is quite a bit of learning involved with becoming a Pharmacy Technician, but this is also what makes it such a valuable and attractive position.

Those interested in beginning their pharmacy technician training and education should at least have an idea as to what is involved in obtaining that study, and earning their qualifications.

Herbal Medication Versus Quackery

By 1930, “Dr.” John R. Brinkley of Arkansas, Kansas had transplanted over 16,000 goat testicles into men who wanted to relive their youth. At $750 per procedure, he became a wealthy man. Needless to say, we would call his practice quackery at best.

The thing most people don’t realize is that because of loopholes in the law, people can be legally duped in much the same way. You can take anything you want other than recognized poisons and illegal drugs, package it up and sell it as a food additive. The only restriction is that you cannot make claims of any medical benefit on the container itself. They can make as many claims as they want away from the container. As long as those claims are not made on the container itself, there is no regulation on the product in the United States.

One poor fellow that I saw in the emergency room had a terrible case of Rhus Dermatitis. That is the medical term for what is commonly called poison oak or poison ivy. He had started out getting a small area of rash on his arm. So, he went down to the local health food store and bought a poison ivy treatment.

After taking the ‘cure’ he proceeded to get profoundly worse. By the time I saw him he had a rash all over his body and was extremely miserable. I found the reason by carefully reading the bottle. The ‘cure’ was a naturopathic remedy that had poison ivy in it! How ridiculous is that?

The advertising that you see for some products makes it immediately obvious that the product is useless. Anyone trained in anatomy and physiology would know right away that the claims were false.

One good example is when the claims are contradictory. Rheumatoid arthritis and allergies are good examples of problems caused by overactive immune systems. Yet I have seen products claim that they not only help with allergies but they boost the immune system. You can’t have it both ways folks.

The other thing that makes you go hmm… is when the advertising claims that the product causes specific physiologic changes in the body. Then they go on and claim that the product does not contain a drug. But, check the definition of a drug: ‘A substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease’. Clearly, if you are claiming that your product can be used to treat or prevent disease, you are talking about a drug. If you say that your substance does not contain a drug, then you can’t say it is preventing or treating a disease. Here again, you can’t have it both ways.

But, you may say, what I am taking is just plant parts. When my father was in pharmacy school in the 1950’s, virtually all drugs were made by collecting plants and mixing them in certain ways to prepare drugs. Now, people do the same thing, but they are able to sell them as food aditives because they make no claims about their properties ‘on the container’.

Having said that, I have nothing against people using herbal remedies. In fact I’m all for it. But it is important to understand what that entails.

Let’s look at an example. Digoxin. This drug once was commonly prescribed for heart problems. You don’t see it as much any more because safer and more effective drugs have been found for most heart conditions.

Digitalis comes from the foxglove plant. Foxgloves are a beautiful flower found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. My wife can remember people being paid to go out and harvest them so that drug companies could get digoxin from them.

Digoxin is rather peculiar because there is a very narrow range of the drug that can be safely taken. Take too little and it does nothing. Take too much and it can actually kill you.

Furthermore, different plants have different amounts of the drug. It depends on what type of soil the plant grew in. How much sun it got. Even if there were any insects or animals that had nibbled on it.
The part of the plant that you tested would also reveal that there were vastly different amounts of the drug in the leaves as compared to the roots.

A good example of that is rhubarb. The leaves are poisonous. The stems are good in pies.

Unfortunately, the guinea pigs I had as a kid found out the hard way. But, I did have a nice funeral for them.

It might surprise you that in a recent study, a large percentage of the herbal remedies sold did not even contain the parts of the plant that had been shown to be useful!

My advice? First of all get yourself a good reference. There is one book that should be in the library of everyone planning to use an herbal remedy and every doctor too for that matter. That is the PDR for Herbal Medicine.

This book lists every herbal medicine that is know to have a real medicinal effect. It also tells you potential side effects, what part of the plant has the active ingredient and what the medicinal effect it.

Once you know what you want to use, the next step is obtaining it. The best method is to grow your own so you know exactly what you are getting. That way you can make sure the plant is healthy and you are using the part of the plant that will help you and not harm you.

If you cannot grow your own, the next best thing is to do a bit of research and find a company that is known for its integrity and quality control. Then stick with them.

Finally, make sure your doctor knows what you are taking. There is some possibility that your herbal medicine may interact or interfere with any medication that you are being prescribed.

With the proper knowledge and a good source, you should be getting some good benefit from your herbal medication. But, beware of the claims of those other products.

Dr. Ron McCluskey is an emergency room physician with over twenty years experience treating all types of medical problems. A firm believer in natural remedies, he also hates it when people get burned by rip-off artists. Eight Steps to Health [] is your best resource for getting straight answers for your health care needs.