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Pharmacy Tech

Image of pills spilling from a bottle. Image used from BLS.gov

Welcome to the Pharmacy Tech guide!

If you have questions or comments about this guide, please contact Emily Gilbert, Librarian for the School of Health Sciences, or Anna Phan, Learning Services Coordinator for the School of Health Sciences.

For career information, please see the Pharmacy Tech tab on the Career Information page in this guide.

If you are a new student, please see the Information for New Students page for important notes from your Department Chair.

This manual only applies to Pharmacy Technician students at Minnesota campuses.

Below you will find sample materials from eBooks from EBSCO and eBook Central recommended specifically for Pharmacy Tech.  

Check the Easiest, Intermediate and Advanced Finding Articles tabs on the Research page of this guide for general health science article databases (Health Policy Reference Center, CINAHL, Consumer Health, Nursing Reference Center, etc.).

In addition to the all-purpose health science databases, you might also want to check the article databases below because they best cover the pharmacy-related legal issues you may need/want to explore.

         

In addition to the websites below, check the Reliable Websites tab on the Research page in this guide. 

Tutor Match allows you to schedule tutoring appointments with Rasmussen College student tutors. You can request your appointment to be online or on campus (if available). 

Click here to connect to Tutor Match within the Tutoring Platform (Brainfuse).


Request a Tutoring Session

  • Access the Tutoring Platform from within the Resources tab in any of your courses. 
  • Look for Tutor Match

  • Select a Topic (in this case, you'd select  and select Health Sciences), and then a Subject ("Pharmacy Calculations" or any other course you are taking)

 

  • Click on Schedule

  • Select your Preferred Modality
    • Online (with audio/phone)
    • On Campus
  • Ensure your Time Zone is correct. If it is not correct, click on the time zone link. A separate box will appear where you can change your time zone and continue scheduling your appointment. 
  • Select a specific tutor from Available Tutors to narrow your search to the tutor of your choice. Otherwise, to see ALL available tutors, leave as "Select a tutor". 

  • Select the date for your appointment from the calendar. You will need to schedule appointments at least two hours in advance of the session start time.
  • Find a time slot that works for you and click on Select.
  • Tip: If you prefer to view the calendar for the entire month, select month in the upper right-hand corner.

  • Almost done! Complete the online form with your phone number, SMS reminder preference, and notes about the assistance you are seeking, then click Confirm.


Session Confirmation 

You will see a pending confirmation page letting you know that the tutor has been notified of your request

  • When the tutor confirms your request, you will receive a confirmation email to your Smail account
  • The modality, time, and date of the appointment will be included.

How to Attend

  • On-Campus sessions: Simply show up on the correct campus at the day and time of your appointment.
  • Online sessions: Simply come back to the Tutoring Platform shortly before your session starts, hover over your name (top right on the page), and click on My Calendar and then on Enter to access the session.

How to Cancel a Tutoring Session

  • Log into Online Tutoring
  • Click on your Username in the top right corner under the "Logout" button
  • Select My Calendar 
  • Click Cancel next to the appointment that you wish to cancel

locate your name and select My Calendar from the drop-down menu

 

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Pharmacy Technician Career Information

For more information on the breadth of resources and services available through Career Services, please see the digital flyer linked below!

Click the link below to view/save this document as a PDF.

Click the link below to view/save this document as a PDF.

Common Interview Questions

More often than not you will likely encounter a variety of standard interview questions no matter what your degree field and it is best to always be prepared; here are some common questions, as well as tips on how you will want to approach an answer, that you may see during your next interview!

Q. Tell me about yourself
A. This is a dreaded, classic, open-ended interview question and likely to be amount the first. It’s your chance to introduce your qualifications, good work habits, etc. Keep it mostly work and career related.


Q. Why do you want to leave your current job? (Why did you leave your last job?)
A. Be careful with this. Avoid trashing other employers and making statements like, “I need more money.” Instead, make generic statements such as, “It’s a career move."

Q. What are your strengths?
A. Point out your positive attributes related to the job and examples of what you have done.

Q. What are your weaknesses?
A. Everybody has weaknesses, but don’t spend too much time on this one and keep it work related. Along with a minor weakness or two, try to point out a couple of weaknesses that the interview might see as strengths, such as sometimes being a little too meticulous about the quality of your work. (Avoid saying “I work too hard.” It’s a predictable, common answer.) For every weakness, offer a strength that compensates for it.

Q. Which adjectives would you used to describe yourself?
A. Answer with positive, work-oriented adjectives, such as conscientious, hardworking, honest and courteous, plus a brief description or example of why each fits you well.

Q. What do you know about our company?
A. To answer this one, research the company before you interview.

Q. Why do you want to work for us?
A. Same as above. Research the company before you interview. Avoid the predictable, such as, “Because it’s a great company.” Say why you think it’s a great company.

Q. Why should I hire you?
A. Point out your positive attributes related to the job, and the good job you’ve done in the past. Include any compliments you’ve received from management.

Q. What past accomplishments gave you satisfaction?
A. Briefly describe one to three work projects that made you proud or earned you pats on the back, promotions, raises, etc. Focus more on achievement than reward.

Q. What make you work hard?
A. Naturally, material rewards such as perks, salary and benefits come into play. But again, focus more on achievement and the satisfaction n you derive from it.

Q. What type of work environment do you like best?
A. Tailor your answer to the job. For example, if in doing your job you’re required to lock the lab doors and work alone, then indicate that you enjoy being a team player when needed, but also enjoy working independently. If you’re required to attend regular project planning and status meetings, then indicate that you’re a strong team player and like being part of a team.

Q. Why do you want this job?
A. To help you answer this and related questions, study the job ad in advance. But a job ad alone may not be enough, so it’s okay to ask questions about the job while you’re answering. Say what attracts you to the job. Avoid the obvious and meaningless, such as, “I need a job.”

Q. How do you handle pressure and stress?
A. This is sort of a double whammy, because you’re likely already stressed from the interview and the interviewer can see if you’re handling it well or not. Everybody feels stress, but the degree varies. Saying that you whine to your shrink, kick your dog are not good answers. Exercising, relaxing with a good book, socializing with friends or turning stress into productive energy is more along the lines of the “correct” answers.

Q. Explain how you overcame a major obstacle.
A. The interviewer is likely looking for a particular example of your problem-solving skills and pride you show for solving it.

Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A. Explain your career-advancement goals that are in line with the job for which you are interviewing. Your interviewer is likely more interested in how he, she or the company will benefit from you achieving your goals than what you’ll get from it, but it goes hand in hand to a large degree. It’s not a good idea to tell your potential new boss that you’ll be going after his or her job, but it’s ok to mention that you ‘d like to earn a senior or management position.

Q. What qualifies you for this job?
A. Push your skills, experience, education and other qualifications, especially those that match the job description well. Avoid just regurgitating your resume. Explain why.

Q. Why did you choose your college major?
A. The interview is likely fishing to see if you are interested in your field of work or just doing a job to get paid. Explain why you like it. Besides your personal interest, include some rock-solid business reasons that show you have vision and business sense.

Be sure to practice your interview skills before you have to use them.

Log in to Optimal Resume and use the Interview feature to continue to work on your interview skills!

Click the link below to view/save this document as a PDF.

Pharmacy Specific Interview Questions

Most pharmacies go through a range of standard, or common, interview questions during the interview process however more and more they will inquire as to knowledge and skills gained through education and training specific to the pharmacy field standards.

Here are some common pharmacy questions, as well as tips on how you will want to approach an answer, that you may see during your next interview!

Q: What are the record keeping procedures that a pharmacist have to do?
A: The record keeping procedures that a pharmacist have to do

  • Storing pharmacy files
  • Patient records
  • Inventories and update system files
  • Registries of poisons and controlled drugs

Q: Why do you want to work at a pharmacy as opposed to a healthcare facility?
A: I like face to face customer contact and dispensing medication is something that I enjoy. Working at a pharmacy provides me an opportunity to do both.

Q: What are the factors that need to be considered in drug storage?
A: Storage temperature, light, and sanitary conditions are the three basic factors that need to be considered while storing any drug.

Q: What are the steps to be followed when filling a prescription?
A: The prescription is read and thoroughly understood first. Then the items required are carefully measured and mixed in the prescribed amounts. The prescription is then inspected by a licensed pharmacist before being handed over to the patient.

Q: Which pharmacy related software have you used before?
A: Indicated pharmacy specific software you’ve used either during an internship, virtual lab, etc. Also note that you’re very tech savvy and quickly pick up / adapt to new software

Q: Define prescription medicine.
A: Prescription medicines are those drugs or medicines that cannot be dispensed or sold without the written prescription of a qualified and certified medical practitioner and that too only in limited amounts.

Q: Explain; can a controlled substance prescription be refilled?
A: Controlled substance prescription can be refilled for up to five times in a 6 month span; schedule type V can be refilled as directed by a physician, while type II cannot be refilled.

Q: What are the non-medication related responsibilities of a pharmacy technician?
A: Responsibilities include dispensing drugs, storing medicines, labeling them, stocking them to date and filling relevant inventories.

Q: What do you do to avoid boredom while having to perform repetitive task each day?
A; Medicine mixing and getting percentages right is very important and the repetitive task can go wrong due to boredom; I take short breaks now and then to refresh myself and have a track record of always preparing exact compositions based on the given prescription.

Q: What have you learned from mistakes on the job?
A: Make the mistake small, well intentioned with a positive lesson, for example, would be working too far ahead of colleagues on a project and throwing off coordination.

Q: How do you go about storing inventories of drugs?
A: On receiving the stock I study the expiry dates and temperature requirements very carefully and then store the drugs accordingly in appropriate storage sections, placing the ones with lesser remaining expiry period in the front of the shelves.

Q: Outline the steps you follow when you receive a prescription order.
A: On receiving a prescription I determine the components required and their quantities. I then measure these out and create the mixture while paying a lot of attention to detail. I also check for any special medicinal requirements mentioned by the prescribing doctor and ascertain the expiry date of each component I add. The prescription is then checked and verified by the senior pharmacist for component accuracy and given out to the customer.

Be sure to practice your interview skills before you have to use them.

Additionally, brush up on those Common Interview Questions as many pharmacies will incorporate them into their interview process!

Log in to Optimal Resume and use the Interview feature to continue to work on your pharmacy interview skills!

Click the link below to view/save this document as a PDF.

Optimal Resume Instructions

Career Services recommends the use of this platform, as described below, to be able to provide you with resume, cover letter, thank you letter or mock interview feedback.
Upon completing a submission to the Review Center, you will receive feedback via email within 72 hours.

Instructions for Registration

  1. Go to https://rasmussen.optimalresume.com/
  2. “Create New Account”
  3. Follow the directions to validate your account using your student email address.
  4. Check your student email for the code
  5. Enter the code in the appropriate box on the website and click submit
  6. Create your “User Profile” (input your information as you want it on your resume)
  7. Then complete the “Education” portion; click save & continue button at bottom of page
  8. Indicate which campus you are enrolled in; click save & continue
  9. Once your account is started…

You will now be viewing the document center. This is where you can create a new resume, cover letter, utilize interviewing videos to practice answering questions; and all can be sent to your Career Services Advisor for feedback. IF YOU HAVE TECHNICIAL ISSUES, PLEASE CONTACT PERSONAL SUPPORT AT 1-866-349-4357

Resume Creation

  1. Click Create New Resume
  2. Name your resume and click on START RESUME
  3. Click CONTINUE under the “Browse Samples” option
  4. Select the Rasmussen School of Health Sciences
  5. Review samples from your career field. Once you find a sample that you would like to use to create your resume, click USE THIS SAMPLE (green button at the top of your selected document)
  6. Be sure to edit each section to assure that the information professionally represents YOU
  7. Submit your resume to the Review Center (3rd button on blue tool bar above your document). Select the Review Group (your campus) and the Reviewer (your Career Services Advisor)


7 Helpful Tips

  1. Include a strong professional statement at the top of your document and highlight any unique skills and traits that the employer is looking for (i.e. Bilingual; years of experience that can translate to the position; unique skill that helps you to standout) DO NOT USE AN OBJECTIVE STATEMENT. Objective statements speak to what you want. You need to speak to what the employer wants.
  2. Utilizing the O Net tool can help to provide ideas on what skills and qualifications to highlight based on your specific field of study.
  3. Use field-related skills in your Skills/Qualifications section. Stay away from statements such as “Hard Worker, Team Player, etc.” These are easy to say but hard to prove to an employer. Emphasized those healthcare skills that are specific to your profession.
  4. Utilizing the action verb tool can really help you to develop strong accomplishment statement under each position that you have held.
  5. Section Instructions – this will help you to identify what should be written in each area if you are stuck on what to include.
  6. Avoid including “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of your resume. This is assumed information and takes up valuable space on your document. References are to be put on a separate page and only given to the employer when requested.
  7. Use spell check – always!

Getting familiar with your State Board of Pharmacy and the requirements to work as a Pharmacy Technician in your state will be important as each state has their own requirements.

  • Some states need you to sit for and pass the certification exam (PTCE)
  • Some states require you to pass their own state exam
  • Some states require that you register with your individual state board of pharmacy
    • This includes an application process as well as a fee
  • SOME STATES REQUIRE ALL THREE; and all are separate and individual tasks that need to be completed

Get to know what your state requires by researching the information on your state's Board of Pharmacy website. You can find links to each Board's website on the page linked below.

Pharmacy technicians help prepare and distribute medications to customers or other healthcare professionals. While working at different companies and different settings can alter responsibilities the most common tasks (as provided by Onet) include:

  • Receive written prescription or refill requests and verify that information is complete and accurate.
  • Prepack bulk medicines, fill bottles with prescribed medications, and type and affix labels.
  • Answer telephones, responding to questions or requests.
  • Maintain proper storage and security conditions for drugs.
  • Assist customers by answering simple questions, locating items, or referring them to the pharmacist for medication information.
  • Price and file prescriptions that have been filled.
  • Establish or maintain patient profiles, including lists of medications taken by individual patients.
  • Order, label, and count stock of medications, chemicals, or supplies and enter inventory data into computer.
  • Receive and store incoming supplies, verify quantities against invoices, check for outdated medications in current inventory, and inform supervisors of stock needs and shortages.
  • Mix pharmaceutical preparations, according to written prescriptions.
  • Operate cash registers to accept payment from customers.
  • Clean and help maintain equipment or work areas and sterilize glassware, according to prescribed methods.
  • Prepare and process medical insurance claim forms and records.
  • Transfer medication from vials to the appropriate number of sterile, disposable syringes, using aseptic techniques.
  • Supply and monitor robotic machines that dispense medicine into containers and label the containers.
  • Restock intravenous (IV) supplies and add measured drugs or nutrients to IV solutions under sterile conditions to prepare IV packs for various uses, such as chemotherapy medication.
  • Compute charges for medication or equipment dispensed to hospital patients and enter data in computer.
  • Deliver medications or pharmaceutical supplies to patients, nursing stations, or surgery.
  • Price stock and mark items for sale.
  • Maintain and merchandise home healthcare products or services.
     

Most pharmacy technicians work within retail pharmacies within grocery or general merchandise stores however there are a variety of areas that individuals can work as a pharmacy technician such as:

  • Retail Pharmacy
  • Hospitals / Clinics
  • Pharmacy / Healthcare Call Center


Each of these settings within pharmacy have their own unique nuances but it is encouraged for candidates to become familiar with all aspects of the industry as there are functions about each that may be appealing.

Generally, out of all the settings working as a pharmacy technician can provide, it is hospital and clinic pharmacies that generally require more experience prior to moving into those environment; so not only is retail pharmacy one of the most common work environments pharmacy technician works in, it is generally the starting point for most pharmacy technicians breaking into the workforce.

Do research on pharmacy technician careers, standards, and what you need to be successful in your market by looking using research sites such as:

Bureau of Labor Statistics https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacy-technicians.htm AND https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292052.htm

Onet https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2052.00

Additionally become VERY familiar with what it takes to work as a pharmacy technician in your state by becoming familiar with your state board of pharmacy and it’s requirements!

*TIP FOR SUCCESS look to gain experience – if possible in your market – before you graduate. Reach out to local pharmacies and inquire about shadowing, internship / externship / trainee programs, etc. to help you expand your knowledge and skillset!
 

Suggested Job Titles

With little sway in titles within this aspect of healthcare, employers may title their roles differently, so it is important to get an idea of what is common in the industry. Additionally, it’s good to be familiar with them when searching job boards to ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity!

  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Pharmacy Clerk
  • Pharmacy Cashier
  • Pharmacy Aide
  • Pharmacy Assistant
  • Medication Administrator
  • Mail Order Technician
  • Pharmaceutical Call Center
  • Pharmacy Cashier

Here are more articles from our School of Helath Sciences Blog:

Job Sites

There are many job search sites out there for people to tap into in their search from the general job search sites to industry specific sites as well as pharmacy specific staffing agencies.

General Sites
https://www.indeed.com/
https://www.ziprecruiter.com/
https://www.simplyhired.com/

Rasmussen Sites
https://rasmussen-csm.symplicity.com/
https://www.liquidcompass.com/institutions/rasmussen

Pharmacy / Healthcare Specific Sites
http://www.ashp.org/menu/careerpharm
https://www.rxcareercenter.com/
https://go.inpharmacyjobs.com/
https://www.ihirepharmacy.com/
https://ahspharmstat.com/
https://www.healthecareers.com/
https://careers.ptcb.org/

Applying online is only the first step in the job search path. It is important that this is not the ONLY step that you take.

Be sure that:

  • Your resume is updated, polished, and speaks to your skill set within the pharmacy field! Check out Optimal Resume pharmacy technician templates and the resume resources here in the guide! Submit your resume via the review center to Career Services for review / feedback!
  • Follow up directly with the pharmacy after you apply, even go in and try to speak with the pharmacy manager, to let them know you applied and give them a copy of your resume. Show them your excitement and interest in the role!
  • Are your state requirements set? Be sure this is taken care of by looking into your state board of pharmacy requirements!
  • Network! Get away from the computer and get in front of people who work in the pharmacy field!

Professional Associations

Professional associations provide individuals with an important aspect needed for today’s working professional; a network. Belonging to a professional association goes much beyond that it provides you with

  • Visibility / Networking
  • Professional Growth / Development
  • Relevance / in the know about industry trends and changes
  • Ability to gain alterative perspectives

Here are just a few professional associations related to the pharmacy industry:

NPTA – National Pharmacy Technician Association

AAPT – American Association of Pharmacy Technicians

 

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Database Search Tips

  

  • Library databases are collections of resources, including full-text articles, books, and encyclopedias, that are searchable.
  • Searching library databases is different than searching Google. Best results are achieved when using Keywords linked with Boolean Operators
  • Applying Limiters such as full-text, publication date, resource type, language, geographic location, and subject help to refine search results.
  • Utilizing Phrases or Fields, in addition to an awareness of Stop Words, can focus your search and retrieve more useful results.
  • Have questions? Connect with a Librarian through the Library Live Chat for assistance.

Boolean Operators connect keywords or concepts logically to retrieve relevant articles, books, and other resources.  There are three Boolean Operators:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT

Using AND 

  • Narrows search results
  • Connects two or more keywords/concepts
  • All keywords/concepts connected with "and" must be in an article or resource to appear in the search results list

Example: The result list will include resources that include both keywords -- "distracted driving" and "texting" -- in the same article or resource, represented in the shaded area where the circles intersect (area shaded in purple).

Using OR

  • Broadens search results ("OR means more!")
  • Connects two or more synonyms or related keywords/concepts
  • Resources appearing in the results list will include any of the terms connected with the OR connector

Example:  The result list will include resources that include the keyword "texting" OR the keyword "cell phone" (entire area shaded in blue); either is acceptable.

Using NOT

  • Excludes keywords or concepts from the search
  • Narrows results by removing resources that contain the keyword or term connect with the NOT connector
  • Use sparingly

Example: The result list will include all resources that includes the term "car" (green area) but will exclude any resource that includes the term "motorcycle" (purple area) even though the term car may be present in the resource.

A library database searches for keywords throughout the entire resource record including the full-text of the resource, subject headings, tags, bibliographic information, etc.

Keywords:

  • Natural language words or short phrases that describe a concept or idea
  • Can retrieve too few or irrelevant results due to full-text searching (What words would an author use to write about this topic?)
  • Provide flexibility in a search
  • Must consider synonyms or related terms to improve search results
  • TIP: Build a Keyword List

Example:  The keyword list above was developed to find resources that discuss how texting while driving results in accidents.  Notice that there are synonyms (texting and "text messaging"), related terms ("cell phones" and texting), and spelling variations ("cell phone" and cellphone).  Using keywords when searching full-text requires consideration of various words that express an idea or concept.

Subject Headings

  • Predetermined "controlled vocabulary" database editors apply to resources to describe topical coverage of content
  • Can retrieve more precise search results because every article assigned that subject heading will be retrieved.
  • Provide less flexibility in a search
  • Can be combined with a keyword search to focus search results.
  • TIP: Consult database subject heading list or subject headings assigned to relevant resources

Example 1: In EBSCO's Academic Search Complete, clicking on the "Subject Terms" tab provides access to the entire subject heading list used in the database.  It also allows a search for specific subject terms.

 

Example 2:  A subject term can be incorporated into a keyword search by clicking on the down arrow next to "Select a Field" and selecting "Subject Terms" from the dropdown list.  Also, notice how subject headings are listed below the title of the resource providing another strategy for discovering subject headings used in the database.

When a search term is more than one word, enclose the phrase in quotation marks to retrieve more precise and accurate results.  Using quotation marks around a term will search it as a "chunk," searching for those particular words together in that order within the text of a resource. 

Examples:

"cell phone"

"distracted driving"

"car accident"

TIP: In some databases, neglecting to enclose phrases in quotation marks will insert the AND Boolean connector between each word resulting in unintended search results.

 

Truncation provides an option to search for a root of a keyword in order to retrieve resources that include variations of that word.  This feature can be used to broaden search results, although some results may not be relevant.  To truncate a keyword, type an asterisk (*) following the root of the word.

For example:

 

Library databases provide a variety of tools to limit and refine search results.  Limiters provide the ability to limit search results to resources having specified characteristics including:

  • Full text
  • Resource type
  • Publication date
  • Language
  • Geographic location
  • Subject

In both the EBSCO and ProQuest databases, the limiting tools are located in the left panel of the results page.

                                                 EBSCO                                                     ProQuest

         

The short video below provides a demonstration of how to use limiters to refine a list of search results.

Each resource in a library database is stored in a record.  In addition to the full-text of the resources, searchable Fields are attached that typically include:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Journal title
  • Date of Publication
  • Abstract
  • Subject Headings
  • Publisher

Incorporating Fields into your search can assist in focusing and refining search results by limiting the results to those resources that include specific information in a particular field.

In both EBSCO and ProQuest databases, selecting the Advanced Search option will allow Fields to be included in a search.

For example, in the Advanced Search option in EBSCO's Academic Search Complete database, clicking on the down arrow next to "Select a Field" provides a list of fields that can be searched within that database.  Select the field and enter the information in the text box to the left to use this feature.

Stop words are short, commonly used words--articles, prepositions, and pronouns-- that are automatically dropped from a search.  Typical stop words include:

  • a
  • an
  • and
  • the
  • also
  • but
  • for
  • in
  • is
  • of
  • so
  • which
  • when
  • was

In library databases, a stop word will not be searched even if it is included in a phrase enclosed in quotation marks.  In some instances, a word will be substituted for the stop word to allow for the other words in the phrase to be searched in proximity to one another within the text of the resource.

For example, if you searched company of America, your result list will include these variatons:

  • company in America
  • company of America
  • company for America

This short video demonstrates how to create a search string -- keywords connected with Boolean operators -- to use in a library database search to retrieve relevant resources for any research assignment.

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