Good Pharmacy Technicians are hard to find. The job definitely isn’t easy and it takes a person with a unique skillset to do the job well. Most pharmacies cannot operate without pharmacy technicians and here I will discuss what I think are 5 essential qualities of a good (but not great) pharmacy technician.
1. Good Customer Service Skills
Treating customers with kindness and compassion may seem simple, but spend a day picking up prescriptions at a few different pharmacies and you will quickly realize that a lot of technicians are lacking this skill. It is easy to understand why; they are working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment where they must assist hundreds of people every day who are often sick or not feeling their best. It is likely that these customers weren’t very happy to begin with, but that is no excuse to not provide the highest possible level of customer service and patient care.
A technician that can remain calm, be kind, and consistently give their best effort to take care of customers has the foundation needed to develop into a great technician.
2. Fast Learner with a Good Memory
Unfortunately, customer service skills are not enough to survive for very long as a pharmacy technician. For any technician starting a job with a new company, and especially those with no prior experience, the learning curve is steep. There is new pharmacy software, workflow procedures, and even seemingly simple things like cash register operation. I plan to cover lots of general issues later but suffice it to say that a person who can pick things up quickly and retain that information will fare far better than someone who is not as quick and more forgetful.
3. Computer Skills
Given that everything you do in a pharmacy today requires computer use (even the cash register), it is imperative to have at least a basic skillset. I have seen technicians that use 2 fingers to type, cannot find the tab key, and have no clue what it means to open something in a new window. You will not make it very long without getting to an average level of proficiency quickly.
4. Ability to Work on a Team
As a pharmacy technician you will always be working with someone else. It may be a shift with just you and 1 pharmacist or it could be a team of 5 technicians and 2 pharmacists all in the pharmacy at the same time. No matter the situation a technician must be able to communicate effectively with the rest of the team as well as solidly execute their defined role(s) for the day.
There are so many minute details that have the potential to make a huge difference in pharmacy and it requires very detail oriented people to ensure patient safety. People outside of the pharmacy profession sometimes tell me it seems to them that working in a retail pharmacy is like working in a fast food restaurant. I like to reply “Yea, sure. But if your order says no tomatoes and we forget to take them off you might die”. A little harsh? Maybe, but it gets the point across. The bottom line is that a good technician is aware of the importance of executing every process safely and accurately to maintain the highest possible level of patient safety.