Pharmacy tech schools/programs are cropping up around here in California like herpes after the prom. I, for one, am sick and tired of these schools duping young ignorant students into handing over their hard-earned money to get some half-assed education when they can avoid it all together. Thats why my friends, I am going to tell you how you can get your pharmacy tech license WITHOUT setting one foot in some useless program that costs 20k bucks.
Back before 1/1/2004, one could work in a pharmacy as a tech-apprentice and get a license after completing 1500 (or something like that) hours of real-life work. Personally, I think this is the BEST way one could be a tech since you are being taught exactly what you need to know, what you can and cant do, and all of the things that you will be doing on a daily basis. These were the glory days when men were men and the generic quinine flowed like cheap booze! All of this is different now, read on.
Now this is California specific and information that the schools do NOT want you to know. Here we go.
According to the Calfornia Board of Pharmacy tech license requirements.
Effective January 1, 2004, there are only four ways to qualify for pharmacy technician registration (California Business and Professions Code section 4202). California law now requires that an applicant for a pharmacy technician permit must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have obtained an associate of arts degree in pharmacy technology.
- Have completed a course of training specified by the board (typically provided by employers under requirements of California Code of Regulations Section 1793.6 (provided below)).
- Have graduated from a school of pharmacy approved by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education or recognized by the board.
- Be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.
California Code of Regulations section 1793.6 describes the training courses acceptable to the board (item 2 above)
This training is:
- Any pharmacy technician training program accredited by the American Society of Health–System Pharmacists,
- Any pharmacy technician training program provided by a branch of the federal armed services for which the applicant possesses a certificate of completion, or
- Any other course that provides a training period of at least 240 hours of theoretical and practical instruction, provided that at least 120 of these hours are in theoretical instruction in a curriculum that provides:
- Knowledge and understanding of different pharmacy practice settings.
- Knowledge and understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a pharmacy technician in relationship to other pharmacy personnel and knowledge of standards and ethics, laws and regulations governing the practice of pharmacy.
- Knowledge and ability to identify and employ pharmaceutical and medical terms, abbreviations and symbols commonly used in prescribing, dispensing and record keeping of medications.
- Knowledge of and the ability to carry out calculations required for common dosage determination, employing both the metric and apothecary systems.
- Knowledge and understanding of the identification of drugs, drug dosages, routes of administration, dosage forms and storage requirements.
- Knowledge of and ability to perform the manipulative and record-keeping functions involved in and related to dispensing prescriptions.
- Knowledge of and ability to perform procedures and techniques relating to manufacturing, packaging, and labeling of drug products.
Laws are stupid and boring. Lets go through the possible avenues you can be on to become a Tech in California.
1. Get an AA degree in Pharmacy Technology. What the fuck is Pharmacy Technology and why is it even an AA program? It requires school and thereby money, moving on.
2. Have completed a course of training specified by the board (you can read the boring law as to what “Training” is). Here is where all of the pharmacy tech “programs” come into play (along with #1 above). They dupe you into thinking that you need to take their class to become a pharmacy tech. Most schools tuition range from 15 to 20k bucks and will suck up a good 6 months of your precious life. All to work in a retail pharmacy counting by 5’s. Go you.
3. Have graduated from a school of pharmacy approved by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education or recognized by the board. Translation: “You graduated from pharmacy school with a PharmD but you can’t pass the boards to save your life”. Congratulations, you are the most overqualified pharmacy tech on the planet, here is your certificate on waterproof paper so your tears don’t smudge the ink.
4. Be certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board. Wait, whats this? What is this strange PTCB you speak of? Well, its a test. Its a 90 question multiple choice test given at a hochillion testing centers around the state year-round. Here is their online application to apply for this test. Their requirements to take the test?
• High school diploma or its equivalent (e.g., a GED or foreign diploma).
• No felony conviction.
• No drug or pharmacy related convictions, including misdemeanors. These violations must be
disclosed to PTCB.
• No denial, suspension, revocation, or restriction of registration or licensure, consent order or
other restriction by any State Board of Pharmacy.
• No admission of misconduct or violation of regulations of any State Board of Pharmacy.
So, pay 15k and have information spoon-fed to you, or spend $200 bucks (the test is $129 of that) to get a PTCB study-guide from Boarders/B&N (search for PTCB exam), read it at home, take the practice test, then go to a testing center and get THE EXACT SAME THING. PLUS if you pass the test you get a fancy CPhT after your name! Just that information alone is worth it for you to buy Drugmonkey’s book with all the money you saved!
That’s it! That is all you need to do! Take a 90 question test and you’ll have your license! No teachers! No books! No $20k financial-aid’s dirty looks!
Why am I doing this? This is why; the pharmacy tech market in California is saturated to hell. I get at least 2 applications a month from people looking for pharmacy tech jobs. I feel horrible for some idiot who spent 20k bucks to have some washed up pharmacy-tech yap at them in a classroom to get a license that there isn’t any job demand for. Its that simple. These schools are swindling these students out of their money with promises to “get in on the pharmacy action” when there are already TOO many techs LOOKING for jobs. I don’t think its right because the schools make it sound like their program is the only way to get a tech license, and that’s an outrageous lie.
I’ve worked with CPhT’s that just took the test, and externs who are close to finishing these ‘wonder-schools’. I’ll be honest, both of them are shit-worthless walking in the door, with the CPhT’s a bit more useful than the externs solely because they have the ambition to study on their own. I spend more god-damned time doing brand-generic translations, telling them they pulled the WRONG drug, and fixing their mistakes for them to be any worth to me. What the fuck are these schools teaching these externs? If you studied at home, I can sorta give you some lee-way. But if you spent 6 months in a CLASS getting LECTURED on shit, you should damn well know what Keflex and Vicodin’s generic names are. It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to take any tech-school externs because they end up COSTING me more time than SAVING me time by having them be there. Yes, they are there to learn, but I am there to work. Teaching time was in the classroom, “you should of learned this there”.
Now granted, some people learn better by having the information spoon-fed to them via a talking-head and homework than reading a book on their own, but is it worth 15-20k? Honestly I want a tech that can read, understand, internalize, and apply on their own rather than asking me the same pointless questions every day. I don’t have TIME to be a talking-head explaining them shit they should of learned at these fancy programs! I have work I need to do; and although these externs aren’t getting paid, they are preventing ME from doing what I need to get done with their should-of-learned-“How many mL’s are in a teaspoon?”-in-school questions. At least intern pharmacists can take new prescriptions!
I’m waiting for the “Well, we all have to start somewhere!” excuses. My preemptive response to your bogus statement: “You went to a SCHOOL to LEARN how to do this and you are SHIT-WORTHLESS. You have FORMAL INSTRUCTION in this field and you don’t know your ASSHOLE from a 30 DRAM VIAL. If I have to tell you one more time why HYDRALAZINE is not the same as HYDROXYZINE I am going to shove Drugmonkey’s Book (Go buy it) UP YOUR ASS.” That’s right, his book up your turd-cutter. Harsh, I know.
Another unrelated point on my refusal to take externs is a trust thing. With a CPhT licensed tech, he/she is an employee. We have paperwork on them. We know where they live. With an extern, its just a name from the school. What prevents them from pocketing a handful (or a bottle) of vicodin during their X-hour externship stay at my store? I don’t have the time to watch him/her like a hawk, and its my license on the line if something comes up missing. I’m not going to do a narc inventory after EVERY extern rotates out, so one of 12 externs/year could nab a bottle of vicodin and nobody could pin it on exactly who did it. So I choose to just not deal with the situation at all. Yeah, its a shitty outlook that really isn’t justified, but at the same time its my ass.