Why are Pharmacy Technicians Restricted from Counseling Patients?


by Kizzi Perry, CPhT

Why are pharmacy technicians restricted from counseling patients? Why aren’t Pharmacy Technicians allowed to counsel? The simple answer would be because pharmacy technicians do not have the required schooling or credentials to offer counsel to a patient, but let’s dive in a little deeper into why pharmacy technicians are not allowed to counsel patients.

Before you become a pharmacy technician, you must know and understand what responsibilities and duties that a pharmacy technician is allowed to perform based on a pharmacy technician’s credentials and what branch of pharmacy does the technician work in (e.g., retail, hospital, government/military, independent, sales, etc.).

Did you know that pharmacy technicians are not required to go to “pharmacy technician” school before working at a pharmacy? Nowadays, there are a lot of different classrooms and virtual training options for a pharmacy technician to take, but pre-training or pre-schooling is not necessary. So as mentioned previously, the pharmacy technician does not have the required knowledge in schooling needed to counsel a patient.

Now you're probably asking yourself, what do you mean a pharmacy technician doesn’t have to have any prior schooling or training to work in a pharmacy, so how do they learn or know their job duties? There is OJT (On the Job Training). The pharmacy technician is put through an approved and structured training program, usually provided by their place of employment or through other approved sources such as https://www.ptcb.org/ or https://www.pharmacytechnician.org/npta/default.asp or any accredited pharmacy technician training programs.

Once the training is completed and the final exam is passed, the pharmacy technician must register within their state; laws may vary per state, please know your state law. You are now a registered pharmacy technician once the registration process is completed and passed. Some companies require the technician to be certified as well. To become a certified pharmacy technician, you must take another exam created especially for technicians based on pharmacy knowledge and skills. Do you know how long it takes to become a registered and certified pharmacy technician? It takes about six months to one year if you are persistent, a maximum of two years if you don't pass the exam the first time.

A pharmacist must complete a strenuous six-year program where they study the drug's chemical makeup, human anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, drug interactions, side effects, adverse reactions, drug alternatives, over the counter medications, vitamins and minerals, and drug utilization reviews. Then the pharmacist must complete a pharmacy rotation in different pharmacy settings to apply all they have learned while in school even though some of the responsibilities and duties are the same for a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician, such as: servicing the patient, filling prescriptions, providing information to other health care professionals and patients, talking to physicians and other medical staff and medication maintenance.

There are certain tasks that pharmacy technicians are not allowed to complete due to state laws, schooling, and credentialing, and one of those restricted tasks that a pharmacy technician can’t complete happens to be patient counseling.