WHAT IS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN?
Most pharmacists employ pharmacy technicians to assist them with the dispensing of prescription medicines. Pharmacy technicians always work under the supervision of a pharmacist. A pharmacy technician includes people who hold a recognised certificate as a pharmacy technician or are enrolled in a training programme leading to this certificate. By law only pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can dispense prescription medicines in a pharmacy.
Pharmacy technicians work in community pharmacies and pharmacy departments in hospitals. They are also employed in other pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical wholesalers. Pharmacy technicians need to be honest, motivated and well organised, able to pay attention to detail, enjoy working as part of a team and be interested in people.
WHAT DOES A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN DO?
Pharmacy technicians assist the pharmacist in the preparation of prescriptions. This includes entering prescription details in the computer, preparing labels and dispensing the medicine. They are involved in the processing of prescriptions and patient records, including preparing prescription batches for payment. Pharmacy technicians may be responsible for maintaining the dispensary, including fixtures and fittings, packaging and dispensing equipment. They are also responsible for checking stock levels of medicines and preparing and placing orders for new stock.
Pharmacy technicians help in the general running of the pharmacy by preparing invoices, receipts, letters, memos and general filing, answering the pharmacy phone and receiving and sending electronic communications.
In community pharmacies, pharmacy technicians may also work in the shop; advising customers on non-prescription medicines and on photographic and cosmetic supplies.
In hospital pharmacy departments, pharmacy technicians are involved in dispensing out-patients' and in-patients' medicines, supplying wards with medicines, monitoring ward stock cupboards and emergency supplies and manufacturing medicines for patient's particular needs. Senior pharmacy technicians are responsible for other technicians and pharmacy assistants.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS ARE NEEDED TO BE A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN?
Pharmacy technicians must hold a recognised qualification to work in the dispensary.
Following an extensive review conducted in 2012-13 a new suite of qualifications for Pharmacy Technicians and Assistants was introduced in 2015. These are all New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved and registered on the NZ Qualifications Framework.
The following diagram illustrates the relationship between the different levels of qualifications.
WHAT TRAINING OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Pharmacy Technician training programmes are available from a range of education providers.
LEVEL 3 - 6 QUALIFICATIONS FOR PHARMACY ASSISTANTS AND TECHNICIANS
Programmes for the level 3 - 6 Pharmacy Assistant and Technician qualifications are available from the education providers listed below. You can study part time whilst working in a pharmacy or complete a full time course.
Part time study allows you to study at your own pace whilst learning on the job. The length of time to complete the training depends on each individual. On the job training is provided and supported by pharmacists within the workplace. They also act as mentors for the practical training required.
The full time course offer work placements as part of their programmes where you apply class based learning to real situations.
The education providers are:
1. OPEN POLYTECHNIC
The Open Polytechnic offers part time, distance based learning programmes for pharmacy qualifications at levels 3 - 5. Information on their programmes can be found using the following links:
NZMA offer full time programmes for pharmacy qualifications at levels 3 - 5 at campuses in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland. Information on their programmes can be found .
3. KAURI ACADEMY
Kauri Academy offer full time programmes for pharmacy qualifications at levels 4 - 5 at a campuses in Auckland and Christchurch. Information on their programmes can be found .
4. MANUKAU INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Manukau Institute of Technology offers a programme for the Level 6 Specialist Technician qualification. Further information can be found
COMPLIMENTARY MEMBERSHIP OF THE SOCIETY
The Society is pleased to offer all pharmacy technicians enrolled into a training programme, complimentary membership for the duration of their training programme.
This will allow access to additional information and resources useful during your training.
1. Once you have decided on the provider you will study with, you need to contact them using the links above to complete their enrolment process.
2. Register for your complimentary membership with the Society by .
WHAT CAREER PROSPECTS ARE OPEN TO PHARMACY TECHNICIANS?
With the changes in the health system in New Zealand pharmacists are spending more time counselling patients on their medicines and many pharmacists are delegating more responsibility for preparing the prescriptions to the pharmacy technician. As well as working in community and hospital pharmacies in New Zealand pharmacy technicians are involved in other areas related to pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians work as sales representatives for pharmaceutical companies or in wholesaling and manufacturing companies.