Working at a pharmacy is a rewarding and sometimes stressful experience. Customers want fast service, but pharmacy workers concern themselves with quality and precision above all else. What does it take to work in the fast-paced, service-oriented pharmacy environment?
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Here are five must-have skills you’ll need to be successful:
1. Attention To Detail
The primary goal of anyone working in pharmacy is to dispense medication in a quick and accurate manner. Accuracy is more important. Giving the customer the right medication and the right dosage can be a real matter of life or death. Some medicines have serious or fatal side effects when a patient combines them with other medicines or takes them in large doses. An eye for detail and staying alert will serve you well in a pharmacy. These skills are essential whether you’re distributing medication or putting patient information into the computer.
2. Computer Literacy
Most pharmacies today are connected to the internet. Computers allow medical providers to send prescriptions electronically. Likewise, computers also allow for easier storage of customer data, insurance information and inventory counts. You must be comfortable using a computer if you plan to work in a pharmacy.
3. Strong Math And Science Skills
Although most of the work is done via computer, pharmacy work requires the ability to perform calculations specific to medication. You must understand percentages, fractions and units of measurement. You also need a solid knowledge of chemistry, anatomy and physiology to understand how the body reacts to different medications. Pharmacists use these skills to calculate doses and study patient profiles, but they’re also useful skills for pharmacy techs.
4. Ability To Operate Pill Counting Machines
In some pharmacies, the pill counting is still done by hand by the pharmacist. In most cases, the pharmacist delegates those duties to a certified pharmacy tech who uses a pill counting machine to get the job done. The pill counting machines offer more accurate, more efficient counting. Operating the pill counting machines requires some training, both in school and on the job.
5. Good Interpersonal Skills
No matter how knowledgeable you are about medicine and the human anatomy, you must be able to interact well with the customers. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are essential to working successfully in health-related settings. You will interact with people every day, including your colleagues, patients, physicians and other healthcare professionals. People who work in a pharmacy work as a team, so you must have a team-oriented approach to your work.
Pharmacists and pharmacy techs are important members of the healthcare community. The jobs encompass a wide range of duties, from taking inventory, to dispensing medications and keeping records. With the essential skills listed above – attention to detail, computer literacy, a strong background in math and science, familiarity with pill counting machines and excellent communication skills – you’ll be more than prepared to tackle the various job duties. While you learn a great deal about the job in school, you’ll learn much more on the job when what you’ve studied combines with real-life experience.
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