Pharmacy technicians who prioritize learning, networking, and persistence can become incredibly successful in their chosen career.
For many, the pharmacy technician career can feel stagnant and unfulﬁlling, with few opportunities for advancement. For others, it feels dynamic and rewarding, with opportunities for professional growth and progression. What makes the difference?
Workplace culture and management are clearly important factors, but after speaking with tens of thousands of technicians over the past 24 years, I have discovered that the most fulﬁlled and successful pharmacy technicians share common characteristics. This has become abundantly clear on my podcast this year.
I host a weekly podcast called CPhT Connect, and this year I decided to try a new format.
Every week, I interview a certiﬁed pharmacy technician who works in a unique, specialized, and advanced role or career. Although the guests work in different roles, for different companies, in different cities and states across the country, common characteristics seem to emerge.
Although each person’s path to advancement, fulﬁllment, and success is unique, there are some traits shared by successful pharmacy technicians that can serve as valuable lessons for those looking to advance in their careers.
Successful pharmacy technicians share a desire to expand their knowledge and skills through advanced and specialized training. By investing in your education and skill sets, you can open doors to new opportunities and take on more responsibility in your role.
Matthew Rewald, BS, CPhT, the pharmacy technician program director at Mayo Clinic, credits his career path to advanced training. During our interview, Rewald discussed how he participated in the Pharmacy Leadership Academy, which helped him develop essential skills for his role, such as understanding inﬂuence as it relates to the DISC proﬁle.
Advanced training can take many forms, such as obtaining specialized certiﬁcations, participating in continuing education opportunities, or informally studying a topic/program/machine via YouTube or user manuals to become the res-ident expert. By expanding your knowledge and honing your skills, you become a more valuable asset to your employer and position yourself for advancement.
Networking is another important aspect of career advancement. The most successful pharmacy technicians recognize the importance of establishing and maintaining professional relationships with coworkers, supervisors, and other industry professionals.
Daniel Kyes, CPhT, BCSCPT, who is the regional pharmacy training and quality specialist at New England Life Care, understands the importance of networking. He is involved in a variety of organizations, including the National Home Infusion Association, where he serves as faculty and is a member of the sterile compounding practice committee.
During our interview, Kyes attributed his career success to having a strong network, as well as staying current and up-to-date in his role.
Networking can lead to professional advancement opportunities, mentorships, and collaborations. To broaden your network, consider attending industry events (in person or virtually) and joining professional organizations, in addition to LinkedIn. Remember that networking is a 2-way street; be ready to help others and share your knowledge.
Hard work and perseverance are essential for career advancement. The pharmacy industry can be demanding, and technicians willing to give their all despite obstacles and setbacks are more likely to succeed.
Yvonne Fairbanks, CPhT-Adv, CSPT, BCNCPT, is a fantastic example of perseverance. During her interview, told me in our interview that she was turned down for a supervisor position early in her career but never gave up and kept looking for other opportunities. Fairbanks is now a pharmacy supervisor at UC Davis Health in California, where she supervises more than 100 technicians.
In any profession, a strong work ethic and the ability to persevere in the face of adversity are valuable qualities. Setbacks are a natural part of the journey, and it is critical to learn from them and keep moving forward.
This could be the most important trait of all. Pharmacy technicians who are successful are proactive in seeking out and initiating new opportunities. They do not wait for a promotion. They understand that career progress frequently requires stepping outside one’s comfort zone and taking on new challenges.
You increase your chances of being recognized and rewarded for your efforts if you show initiative and willingness to learn. Be willing to try something new, whether it is volunteering for a project at work, taking on new responsibilities, or looking for a new job. By pursuing advanced training, networking, being persistent, and taking initiative, you can position your-self for advancement and success as a pharmacy technician.
Your advancement may necessitate major changes, such as switching employers, and I can almost guarantee that you will be forced to step outside of your comfort zone—but the opportunity for you to advance exists. The most important step in advancing your career is to start taking action. Begin by identifying areas for improvement, and then look for opportunities to broaden your knowledge and skills. If you adopt the traits of successful pharmacy technicians and take a proactive approach, you will be well on your way to a fulﬁlling and rewarding career.
Mike Johnston, CPhT, is the founder and CEO of the National Pharmacy Technician Association, the largest professional organization for pharmacy technicians.