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What is the difference between a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist?

Pharmacy technicians and pharmacists both play important roles in the healthcare system, but their responsibilities and qualifications differ significantly. 

Pharmacists are highly trained and licensed healthcare professionals responsible for dispensing prescription medications, providing patient counseling and education, and advising physicians on the selection, dosage, interactions, and side effects of medications to treat health problems. Pharmacists supervise the work of pharmacy technicians. 


Pharmacy technicians, on the other hand, provide support to pharmacists by performing tasks such as preparing and packaging medication, maintaining inventory, and processing prescription orders under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. 


Pharmacists must complete extensive education and training, including earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from an accredited pharmacy program. Pharmacists must obtain a state license which requires passing a licensing exam and completing continuing education requirements. 

Pharmacy technicians typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and some on-the-job training, Most states regulate pharmacy technicians and may require passing an exam or completing a formal training program. 

Pharmacists focus primarily on patient care and must make decisions regarding medication management, while pharmacy technicians focus primarily on technical tasks and administrative support.

Commonly Asked Questions 

Can pharmacy technicians dispense medication without the supervision of a licensed pharmacist?

Answer:  No, pharmacy technicians must always work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist and cannot dispense medication independently.

What other tasks might pharmacy technicians perform in addition to helping pharmacists dispense medication?

Answer:  Pharmacy technicians may assist with other tasks such as organizing inventory, entering patient information into a records system, processing insurance claims, and answering phone calls from patients. 

How can someone become a licensed pharmacist?

Answer:  To become a licensed pharmacist, you must typically earn a doctor of pharmacy degree, complete a specified number of supervised hours of practice, and pass state and national licensing exams.

Are there any legal or regulatory differences in the roles of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists across different states?

Answer:  Yes, the roles and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists can vary somewhat from state to state, so it's important to check with your state's licensing board or regulatory agency for specific requirements and guidelines.

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