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Pharmacy Technology - Overview


Pharmacy technology programs prepare people to help dispense drugs to patients and customers. Students learn to measure drugs and follow prescriptions. They learn to keep records, manage pharmacy supplies, and observe safety practices.

Have you ever had a debate with a friend about foods that go well together and foods that don't? Peanut butter and bananas: you say "definitely"; your friend says "no way." Ketchup with scrambled eggs? You: "never"; your friend: "always!" Tea with milk: you say "delicious"; your friend says "that's disgusting!"

You may get into fevered and fun arguments over food no-no's, but there are some pairings that bear no opinion. Medications and alcohol is one example of such a pairing. Or maybe you've seen a commercial for some type of medication where the announcer says, "People with high blood pressure should not take this"; or, "Pregnant women should avoid this type of medication." You can imagine how important it is to make sure that medications are mixed, measured, and given out carefully. This is where the pharmacy technologist comes in.

Pharmacy technologists learn about pharmacology in order to help pharmacists prepare and fill prescriptions for people. In this program, you must pay very close attention to detail and be a careful person in general. Not only can you work in drugstores, but also in hospitals, clinics, and drug companies, among other places.

One of the things a pharmacy technologist does is prepare medications in different forms: powder, capsule, tablet, or liquid. As a student in this program, you learn to do this by studying the properties of different chemical compounds, which informs you about what would happen if you mixed a certain compound with another. You also learn to do "pharmacy math." This teaches you how to calculate dosage amounts and how to convert quantities from one type of unit of measure to another.

There are about 55 pharmacy technology programs in the U.S. Most of these programs offer associate degrees, but in a few cases, you can choose to get a certificate instead. Certificates usually take about year of full-time study after high school, and associate degrees typically take two years.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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