As a healthcare professional, you’ve probably heard about the recent spate of retail pharmacy closures. Due to increased competition, squeezed margins because of decreasing reimbursement rates for prescription drugs, and a shortage of workers, thousands of retail pharmacies such as Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens are closing their doors. The shrinking amount of pharmacy techs cannot keep up with the ever-present and growing consumer demand causing an epidemic of pharmacy technicians who are underpaid and overworked, often resulting in resignations and staged walkouts. The industry is witnessing a trickle-down effect that is felt by pharmacy techs and consumers alike.
Despite the shortcomings of the retail pharmacy industry, there is still a way to live out a fulfilling and balanced career as a pharmacy technician. While there are some similarities between working in a retail pharmacy vs. a hospital pharmacy, the differences in these two settings may play a role in how supported and properly equipped you feel at work. Hospital pharmacies typically offer higher pay, have access to more advanced technology, are properly staffed, and present the opportunity to collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses and doctors. At Freedom Healthcare Staffing, we only provide travel pharmacy techs to hospital pharmacies because we have the deepest respect for our allied professionals and we want the quality of our travel assignments to reflect that.
Hospital Pharmacy Tech Duties
- Because there is much less interaction with patients, hospital pharmacy techs generally find that their role puts more emphasis on their knowledge of pharmacology and medical terminology rather than on customer service skills. As a result, they work more closely with doctors and nurses as well as the hospital pharmacist, rather than directly with patients/consumers.
- They fill prescriptions for doctors and nurses to administer to patients.
- The types of prescription techs fill differ as well. Hospital pharmacy technicians will have to compound more intravenous (IV) medicine. Most of the medications they provide will be in individual doses. As a result, they may process a larger volume of orders every day compared to retail pharmacy techs.
- Since hospitals are open 24/7, hospital pharmacy techs can expect to work more irregular hours than those in retail settings.
- They may use a wider variety of laboratory equipment and more often work under sterile conditions.
Retail Pharmacy Tech Duties
- Keeping patients’ personal data up-to-date and handling patient documentation
- Counting pills, weighing tablets, pouring liquid medications, and mixing pharmaceutical compounds according to the prescription
- Provide direct customer service to patients by preparing and dispensing medications, advising customers how to use medications, and warn them about possible drug interactions.
- Assisting patients in filling out their forms
- Processing insurance claims
General Pharmacy Tech Duties
- Consulting the pharmacist or physicians’ offices and managing customer files
- Maintain the pharmacy’s inventory of medications, pharmacy and lab equipment, and office supplies
- Administrative and housekeeping duties such as keeping the pharmacy and equipment clean and stocked, answering the phone, etc.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment market for pharmacy techs is projected to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031. With about 44,900 job openings every year, this rate is faster than the average rate for other occupations. With the growing demand for pharmacy technicians, there has also been an explosion in the need for travel techs.
Our Freedom recruiters work tirelessly to find assignments at hospitals that are short-staffed and submit your name for the assignment, as well as negotiate your contract so you receive higher pay and a schedule that aligns with your needs. Freedom handles all housing and transportation logistics so that all you have to do is show up and work the agreed upon length of your contract. If the hospital’s need persists, they may offer a contract extension, which you have the autonomy to accept or reject. Freedom pays you, offers benefits and provides support throughout the entirety of your assignment.
In addition to traditional travel assignments, Freedom makes it a priority to develop direct relationships with hospitals and healthcare facilities to bring you “rapid response assignments,” where you may be deployed in less than 10 days.
Travel Pharmacy Tech Benefits
Working as a travel pharmacy tech within a hospital setting provides other advantages as well:
Flexibility: One of the most effective ways to prevent burnout is autonomy over one’s schedule. It’s up to the travel tech to decide which assignments they will or won’t take, how busy they want to be, and when it’s time to take a break.
Competitive Pay: As aforementioned, not only do hospital pharmacies generally pay more than retail pharmacies, but as an Allied Health Professional travel tech, you could receive nearly double the pay as full-time employees. Freedom allots stipends for meals and housing in addition to base pay.
Collaboration/Networking: In a hospital setting, pharmacy techs naturally work closely with other healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, nurses, and doctors. This could open doors of opportunity to advance your career or gain clarity on how you envision your career to progress.
Unlike a retail pharmacy where techs are directly dealing with consumers throughout the day, techs within a hospital setting work closely with doctors and nurses to determine medication, dosage, and course of treatment.
Experience: Because a career as a travel pharmacy tech allows you to work within various healthcare settings, you may pick up new skills and techniques, further broadening your experience.
Ability to Travel: Although an obvious advantage, the ability to travel the country and experience new places is an exciting aspect of the travel tech life. Always wanted to visit New Orleans? How about Chicago? You are in control of what assignments you accept.
At the end of the day, pharmacy technicians serve as pillars of the healthcare industry and we at Freedom are committed to providing travel assignments that treat you as such. Are you an experienced pharmacy technician looking to embark on a new journey? Learn more or apply for a travel pharmacy tech position today! If you are a healthcare professional with pharmacy tech friends, refer them to us and enjoy the benefits of Freedom’s referral rewards program. We offer an ongoing commission for every hour your referrals and your referrals’ referrals work during their first two years with us.