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HOW TO BECOME AND WORK AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN IN ALASKA

For over two decades now, Alaska has seen unprecedented job growth chiefly in the oil and gas, fishing, government and healthcare. Pharmacy technicians, a career in the healthcare is not left out. Alaska makes available lots of opportunities for pharmacy technicians. In 2014, a release by the Board of Pharmacy indicated a total of about 1,601 licensed pharmacy technicians in Alaska and was forecasted to grow by 35% till 2022. The ever surging demand for prescription medications has been widely reported as the major driver of growth.

Professionally, Pharmacy technicians are healthcare workers who work under close monitoring and guidance of licensed pharmacists to discharge requisite responsibilities to patients including verifying drug credibility and veracity, holding discussions with patients, supporting labeling and filling activities, maintaining drug listing and cataloging, counting out and prescribing medications as well as other products to patients. In Alaska, Pharmacy Technicians are employed in drug stores, research laboratories, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare centers. In Alaska, all potential Pharmacy Technician must acquire the basic academic qualifications and professional training imperative to be a success. States institutions and private establishment enhance vital skills for entry-level Pharmacy Technicians.

The Pharmacy Technician Program

Pharmacy technicians are in high demand by Pharmacies in Alaska. Irrespective of the absence of conventional training institutions for training programs, Alaska’s pharmacy technicians are well-groomed, validated and well paid in the industry. As part of a long-established practice, Pharmacy technicians are accustomed to an on-the-job training. Established and devoted pharmacists are obliged to train technicians to function on the job. They supervise and monitor the candidates’ performances.
Technical programs, including the University of Alaska Anchorage program, educate candidates on vital topics including an introduction to the pharmacy, basic pharmacy calculations, pharmacy practice and methods, pharmacology, law and ethics, communication, and public safety. Technicians who are learning on the job are exposed to relevant skills and concept which are essential to their roles. It is expected that upon conclusion of these training, students must have acquired basic prescription, inventory, and facility management and communication skills. The Technician must be able to review, initiate, verify payment, avoid medication inappropriateness and build trust among patients. Simultaneously, the training also ready’s the candidates for the national certification examination supervised by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

Alaska Pharmacy Technician Requirements and Licensing

The requirement by the Alaska Board of Pharmacy stipulates that until pharmacies technicians are properly and duly enlisted, they cannot work in State approved pharmacies. The Board defines a pharmacy technician as “a person who performs manipulative, non-discretionary tasks associated with the everyday running of a pharmacy. The individual executes his/her responsibilities under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Candidates for registration must be at least 18 years with a high school diploma or equivalent, no criminal convictions and the ability to speak, write and read English.”

Upon validation and subsequent ratification of the application by the board, Pharmacy technicians are sported with name tag as an identity indicating their roles in the Pharmacy. The supervising pharmacist is obliged to secure and certify the training of the pharmacy technician in line with the roles they discharge. A minimum of 40 hours is required to be spent by the technician before commencing duty. The scope of the study must include; sterilization, aseptic techniques, and mixing of pharmaceutical products. Biennially, the Pharmacy Technician is expected to renew their licenses if they must operate as one. Upon employment, statuses of all new Pharmacy technicians are often verified and unethical actions reported to the Board for prompt actions. However, for interns, they can provide services as technicians even without registration.

Other Requirements

Candidates who have been found culpable to various degrees of crimes may not qualify to enlist and subsequently work as a Pharmacy Technician. Customarily, backstage verification is not performed to ascertain the veracity of candidates but in the events that a candidate answers ‘Yes” to some personal data question on the employment form, then background and criminal checks are initiated prior to interview and resolution by the board.

Duration and Cost of Training

Most technicians acquire their training on the job with costs not attributable; but in recent times, the surge in the demand for Pharmacy technician has shifted priority to already trained and validated technicians to bridge the dearth. Technicians with formal training spend up to an average of $4,900 for a period of 12 months for their training and pick up opportunities immediately in a number of pharmacy-related positions. Seemingly, this makes formal training preferred over on-the-job training. However, the Workforce Investment Act and other financial aids are available and could be accessed to assist and reduce the cost of formal training. Apparently, supported programs offer candidates who cannot afford the cost of formal training an alternative method of entry into the industry. Often times, on-the-job training led by Pharmacist last between 6 to 12 months covering a broad spectrum of pharmacy related concepts and topics.

The National Examination

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCB) is acknowledged by the Board of Pharmacy and pharmacy employers; a non-profit parastatal that continuously seeks to refine and boost the standards for pharmacy technicians. National Certification examinations, a component of the screening process is often delineated, administered and supervised by the Board. Mostly, the examination comprises of about 90 multiple option questions to be completed within a period of 2 hours across test centers. Candidates show evidence of high school certification or equivalence, drug and criminal charges not later than 5 years prior to the date of application. The credibility of the certification is for a period of two years, after which renewal is expected so as to maintain certification. The online renewal fee is just about $40. Pharmacists and technicians posit that the certification increases professionalism, better remuneration, build patients trust and by extension boost work performance.

Application and Acquiring Your State License

To acquire the Pharmacy technician license, be about 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or equivalent, be fluent in English and have no criminal convictions which may disrupt work performance. Below is a guide to be enlisted as a pharmacy technician in Alaska.

• Download and fill out the Pharmacy Technician Application on the ABOP website.
• Attach evidence of your state ID, social security card, and high school diploma.
• An initial application fee of $120 is charged. It covers the application fee ($60) and the initial technician license fee ($60). Personal checks or money order paid to the State of Alaska are accepted.
• Ratify the email agreement to receive communication from the Board as regards your application status
• Attach supporting documents in the event that you responded “yes” to personal data questions.
• Send by mail, application form, fee, and supporting documents to the address provided below.
• Wait a period of 6 weeks after the board receives the application for processing
• Send copies of legal documents along with a detailed letter conveying your historical convictions and disciplinary actions if any to the board for investigation and subsequent decision.

Renewing your Pharmacy Technician License

To renew your license upon its expiration, the only acknowledged means is through the postal mail; faxed or email applications are not accepted by the board. 3 to 4 weeks processing duration is stipulated for renewal. For this reason, it is advisable to submit the renewal a month to the expiration of the current license. To renew, follow the steps below:

• Download and fill out the pharmacy technician renewal form
• A renewal fee of $60 is charged while some technicians will qualify for the prorated renewal fee of $30.
• Fill out the Statement of compliance validating your completion of the continuing education requirements. About 10 hours of continuing pharmacy education are stipulated.
• Fill out the jurisprudence questionnaire; it may require you to review Alaska’s Statutes and Regulations for pharmacies and pharmacy technicians.

Contact the Board

• Alaska Board of Pharmacy
333 Willoughby Avenue, 9th Floor
Juneau, AK 99801-1770

• Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806

• Phone: (907) 465-2550
Fax: (907) 465-2974
E-mail: license@alaska.gov

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