can teens work in a pharmacy

Can A Teen Work in A Pharmacy?

You can work in some drugstores as a pharmacy tech intern or trainee. While some stores prefer a high school degree, many retail outlets will also hire technician trainees that are young as 17. However, inexperience and youth cause some prejudices to develop among pharmacy customers. Therefore, you need to be highly detail-oriented and mature to take on the role at a young age. The topics covered in this post primarily cover obtaining training and employment as a pharmacy technician. Therefore, the article reviews the following subjects:

  • Stores that Hire Pharmacy Tech Trainees
  • Job Prospects in the Pharmacy Field
  • Pharmacy Tech Salaries
  • Pharmacy Errors
  • Basic Pharmacy Tech Skills
  • Pharmacy Tech Programs
  • Pharmacy Tech Certification and Recertification

Stores that Hire Pharmacy Tech Trainees

Stores such as Walgreens and CVS currently hire candidates as young as 17 years old to work in the pharmacy. In addition, a number of vocational colleges and high schools offer job training programs that work with these pharmacy chains. As a result, the programs permit young people to hold part-time pharmacy jobs, giving them the opportunity to shadow the store’s pharmacist and learn more about the job of technician.

Major Topics Covered in Store Training Programs

Training programs that are offered by such drugstores as CVS or Walgreens typically cover the following highlighted topics:

  • Maintaining a professional rapport with patients or pharmacy clients who come into the retail store
  • Learning to cashier and how to apply good customer service skills
  • Notifying patients of changes in prescriptions
  • Getting an education about the various kinds of medicines
  • Learning how to dispense medicines
  • Learning about the various drug interactions
  • Learning how insurance works for prescriptions and the proper billing procedures
  • Knowing how to counsel patients about medicines

Job Prospects in the Pharmacy Field

Good Job Prospects for Technicians

So, most high school students who work in a pharmacy are working as an intern or cashier. However, as noted, some local pharmacies, such as CVS or Walgreens, train teens to become the actual technician. Because more drugstore chains are depending on pharmacy technicians to fill their prescriptions, you have a good chance of working in the role. Today, it is cheaper to hire and pay a technician than to hire an additional pharmacist.

Poorer Job Prospects for Pharmacists

In fact, if you eventually plan to be a pharmacist, be advised that, currently, there are more pharmacy graduates than pharmacist jobs. So, getting employed as a technician is an easier role to obtain – at least at the present time.

Pharmacy Tech Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pharmacy technician makes about $13 per hour, on average, in retail establishments. If you work in a hospital pharmacy, you will usually average about $16.00 per hour.

Pharmacy Errors

With that being said, there are some notable risks associated with pharmaceutical inexperience. While a pharmacy usually has double and triple-check processes in place, a pharmacist may not always catch an error that his or her technician may have made. Unfortunately, these kinds of mistakes can be serous when caused as the result of inexperience, lack of skills, or immaturity.

Types of Errors

Errors can be made due to the following:

  • Dispensing the incorrect medication
  • Calculating an incorrect dosage
  • Distributing the incorrect medical equipment
  • Giving incorrect advice to a patient or customer

So, if you want to work as a technician, you need to have excellent pharmacy math skills. That means you have to enjoy subjects such as algebra or chemistry. If you have problems understanding the subject matter of these types of subjects, then you need to hone your skills so you have a complete understanding of how to calculate and dispense medicines.

Older customers sometimes are leery when they are served by a teen in a pharmacy. So, you also need to be aware of this reality if you plan to apply at your local drug store as an intern in the pharmacy.

An Example of One Serious Technician Error

Once case in point about the seriousness of making an error was reported on ABC News. A Florida appeals court upheld a judgment against the pharmacy retailer Walgreen for a $25.8 million judgment. The error of a teen pharmacy technician led to a patient receiving blood thinner pills in an amount that was ten times greater than what had been prescribed.

This case underscored the use of pharmacy technicians who have not yet graduated from high school. During court testimony, the technician stated she typed ten milligrams on a patient’s prescription instead of the required dose of one milligram.

Basic Pharmacy Tech Skills

Therefore, you can work in a pharmacy, even if you are as young as 17 years of age. However, you also need to understand that this type of role carries an important responsibility with respect to patient safety. Again, it is important that you have an excellent understanding of pharmacy math and that you also have superior communication skills. You also need to be interested in learning about the various medicines and how they are used. Overall, you need to be devoted and detail-minded in order to assume this type of role at a young age.

Pharmacy Tech Programs

Sometimes it is best to apply to an online certificate program before you apply at a drug store. Pharmacy technician programs usually are comprised of 600 hours of instruction as well as a 200-hour externship over ten months. Associates degrees programs are also available that take two years to complete.

A Basic Overview of the Course Highlights

A program covers the following areas:

  • Pharmacy law
  • Pharmacy ethics
  • Healthcare systems
  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Pharmaceutical calculations

Pharmacy Tech Certification and Recertification

Technicians are certified by Pharmacy Technician Certification Board or the National Healthcare Association. The PTCB requires that applicants pass exam while the NHA requires one year of experience. Both associations require that applicants have a high-school education.

Specialized Certification Training

As indicated above, retail chains also offer specialized training so participants can work as general pharmacy technicians.

Recertification Requirements

Once established and working, pharmacy technicians need to take 20 hours of continuing education in order to test for recertification. Pharmacy techs need to be recertified every two years.

Do you believe you have what it takes to work in a pharmacy? Do you think it is betters to receive training from a school before applying to a local pharmacy? Would you rather go through the training offered by a retail pharmacy? Keep in mind that obtaining an education opens up more opportunities, especially if you want to work in a hospital pharmacy.

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