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Retail Pharmacy vs. Hospital Pharmacy: What You Need to Know

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Become A Pharmacy Tech

A degree can take you anywhere. The question is where to go.

For pharmacy technicians, it comes down to two choices: hospital or retail pharmacy.

What is Retail Pharmacy?

Retail pharmacies are the pharmacies that you visit in groceries and drug stores. These pharmacies fulfill medical prescriptions sent from medical institutions. Retail pharmacy workers also deliver quality customer service to their patients, from answering their questions to filling accurate prescriptions.

Retail Pharmacy Requirements

Focused researcher in protective eyewear doing test with liquidsRetail pharmacy technicians are detail-orientated professionals who greet every customer with a smile. Important customer service skills for retail pharmacists to have include:

  • Be Positive: Positive experiences keep patients coming back. Asking customers how their day’s going means more than you know.
  • Listen: As unpleasant as a bad customer interaction can be, always remember that they have their reasons. Prescription orders can be frustrating for patients. Don’t snap back at angry customers. Instead, acknowledge their frustrations and let them know that their order will be taken care of.
  • Keep Organized: Behind-the-scenes organization keeps the front counter smooth. Properly storing prescriptions and filling orders on time keeps customer visits short and sweet.

Retail pharmacy work is tech-heavy. Pharmacy technicians in retail are proficient in:

  • Processing Insurance Information: Pharmacy technicians use medical billing and coding to translate medical information into billable codes.
  • Operating Packaging Machines: These professionals use packaging machines to wrap prescriptions in a patient-ready bow.
  • Managing Inventory: The importance of organization in pharmacy work can’t be underestimated. Use spreadsheets to keep track of patient records.

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Retail Pharmacy Technician Job Duties

Common tasks for retail pharmacy technicians are:

  • Preparing prescriptions
  • Compiling with state and federal law
  • Processing insurance claims
  • Assisting customers
  • Stocking medical inventory

How to Work in a Retail Pharmacy

Do you think you have the people skills to succeed in retail pharmacy work? You’ll have to earn these qualifications first:

  • Earn a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Completion of a pharmacy tech program
  • Obtain a state license

What is Hospital Pharmacy?

Hospital pharmacy techs operate on the back end rather than face customers directly. They work with other hospital staff to mix and fill prescriptions. These pharmacy techs through an understanding of pharmaceuticals are vital for patient safety.

Hospital Pharmacy Requirements

Hospital pharmacy technicians use their eye for detail to ensure accuracy. Important medical skills for hospital pharmacy technicians to have include:

  • Sterilizing Equipment: You’re there to prevent disease, not spread it! Hospital pharmacy technicians make sure that every surface is safe for patient use.
  • Educating Patients: Many patients fear taking prescriptions. A pharmacy technician can make them feel comfortable by explaining a prescription’s importance.
  • Creating IVs: Proper IV preparation saves lives. Hospital pharmacy techs create IV bags with the care patients need.

Crop chemist pouring clear liquid into fragile glassware in science centerHospital pharmacy technicians use management skills to keep calm in an often high-stress workplace. Pharmacy technicians working in hospitals can:

  • Prioritize: Hospital pharmacy techs have a lot of tasks on their plate. Time management is critical for managing the unexpected.
  • Manage Stress: Stress is more than a feeling. Its physical and emotional damage has long-term impacts. Taking time for yourself outside of work results in personal and professional happiness.
  • Continue to Learn: The medical industry is constantly evolving. Pharmacy techs must grow right alongside it. Seek feedback at work and learn about the industry at home. This will not only help you be better at your job but shows leadership potential.

Hospital Pharmacy Technician Duties

Tasks regularly assigned to hospital technicians include:

  • Delivering medications to departments
  • Communicate with physicians and other medical professionals
  • Preparing medications
  • Managing inventory
  • Checking prescription expirations

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How to Work in a Hospital Pharmacy

Ready to become a hospital pharmacy technician? Here are what steps you’ll need to take:

  • Earn a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete a pharmacy technician program
  • Earn a state pharmacy technician license

Choose Your Path at FVI’s Pharmacy Tech Program

Whether you choose retail or hospital work, you’ll need pharmacy tech expertise to get there.

That’s exactly what you’ll get at FVI’s pharmacy technician training program. By the end of the program, you’ll be able to confidently identify and mix prescriptions.

Visit our website for more information.


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All nursing programs offered at FVI are approved by the Florida Board of Nursing Professional Nursing NCLEX Code Miramar US70415200 Professional Nursing NCLEX Code Miami US70418900 FVI School of Nursing and Technology (FVI) is licensed by the State of Florida, Commission for Independent Education (CIE) Miami (main) campus License Number: 3441/ Miramar campus License Number: 6010 The Associate of Science programs at FVI School of Nursing and Technology, Miramar, Florida and Miami, Florida are accredited by the Accredited Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). FVI School of Nursing and Technology is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE) ID# 312400 since November 03, 2010

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