You’ve done your PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program, gained your work hours, and even aced the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Exam. You are confident in your future career as a pharmacy technician.
But is pharmacy tech a stressful job? If this is your first real opportunity into the field of pharmacology as a certified pharmacy technician, it is always good to ask questions like this. You’ll have to commit your career to this. It could be a simple affair, an 8-to-5 job where you come back home to rest, or a stressful time where you have to worry about your work output, management, whether you’re doing your job right or how much it pays.
What is it Like Working as a Pharmacy Technician?
The benefits of being a pharmacy technician are a chunk of decent pay (as we describe in another article, “Do Pharmacy Techs Make Good Money?”). It is a relatively easy job to get into if you have some experience or education in pharmacology.
Working as a pharmacy technician may also give you opportunities to advance in your position. The need for medicine increases every year, so when the pharmacy technician career becomes very lucrative in the future, it’s good to get some ground in!
The work of a pharmacy technician, however, is very demanding. A simple clerical error may cost someone their money or even their lives. Even if you don’t make a mistake, then you may still face the wrath of rude customers and angry management between your irregular work schedules from day to night and even on weekends, the slipping up of which may result in you losing the job outright.
What are the Challenges of Being a Pharmacy Tech?
As a pharma tech, you have the job of managing the behind-the-scenes processes of accurately labeling and identifying medication to deliver to patients who need it the most.
To be a certified pharmacy tech, you need to complete a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program or have equivalent work experience in the field (~500 hours) and then complete the pharmacy tech test to gain your certification. We also went over the pharmacy tech test, including how to pass it and how difficult that task is, and the summary is that it would take a long time of dedicated study to get there. But once you complete the test, you are a certified pharmacy technician, and now you can rest easy, right?
Well, being qualified for the actual job is not particularly simple. You need to find a position to work at a hospital or a pharmacy. We have also gone over the job’s pay and how it is primarily influenced by things like the state you live in. Just finding the right pharma tech job may require you to pick up and move entirely, just for a living wage.
Pharmacy technicians must know about the nine knowledge domains, including:
- the basic understanding of drugs and why they are prescribed to certain diseases,
- the laws and regulations of distributing and approving drugs,
- the differences between sterile and non-sterile drugs,
- how to apply, and instruct others on how to use, medication,
- ensuring that the medication reaches its patient,
- the procedure for ordering and filling prescriptions,
- how to understand the pharmacy delivery system,
- properly imbursing and reimbursing customers,
- and finally, understanding the information systems that maintain the supply and organization of medication.
You are in charge of handling medication and pharmaceuticals for needing patients. They have migraines that need painkillers or coughs that must be medicated with cough syrup. There are many different forms of medication and other kinds of disease states and solutions for each drug.
Now that we have all of this in mind, you have a better idea of the possible stress that goes into being a pharmacy technician.
Why Do Pharma Techs Experience So Much Stress at Work?
Ever heard of the phrase “hell is other people?”
As stated before, a pharmacy technician’s job is retail, which means they deal heavily with other people. In the field of pharmacology, a pharmacy technician handles the approval and distribution of items that affect an entire person’s livelihood. If the customers and the people who cut your paycheck believe you are not doing an adequate job, they are going to let you know rather loudly.
Adding to the stress is the amount of workload a pharma tech has to deal with, including crunching numbers, using unreliable technology, remembering each item that comes out of the pharmacy, and sharing that responsibility with co-workers keeping up with the same routine.
In summary, being a pharmacy technician is a juggling act: the balls are all the medicine and healthcare people need to survive. Don’t you dare drop those balls, or you’ll lose your job!
What can a pharmacy technician do to manage their stress at work? The answer may surprise you!
How to Deal with Stress as a Pharmacy Tech?
As a pharmacy technician, you are in control of no one’s actions but your own, and if you want to do the best in minimizing your stress while ensuring that the job is done, you must be in control of your work, not anyone else’s. The position may still be frustrating and near impossible to navigate through without popping a blood vessel. Still, the most important thing about living can come back home and rest on your couch, watch a movie, be able to see your friends, and be able to do it all again the next day, because honestly, if you don’t have that, then what is the point of the job?
You must perform your task as stated, no more and no less. Take responsibility for your actions but not the actions or reactions of others—that is their problem.
In the following section, we will teach you how to reduce stress in your pharma tech job.
Five Tips to Reduce Stress as a Pharmacy Technician
A stressed-out pharmacy technician is a bad thing for the job, especially the pharmacy technician. We have cobbled together just a few tips to help you keep a calm head and stress-free while doing your job.
Wake Up Bright and Early
Start your workday being well-rested and prepared to work. Eat a healthy breakfast and healthy lunch on your lunch break. Even if you must drop all of your outside work and business because you had to work a late-night shift, you should get your required eight hours of sleep.
Stress is often exacerbated by tiredness, and being sluggish and tired means you are more likely to make mistakes or not work efficiently, which means that you are more likely to be stressed out over your failures, and… well, you get the picture.
At worst, the stress will only make you tired enough to motivate you into getting to bed early. At best, you leave the workday as refreshed and prepared as you came in! Make sure that the “you” that comes to work is a “you” that is prepared.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Don’t overexert yourself and think you need to give it your all every step of the way. Take a break at the soonest opportunity.
Whenever you are on the job, don’t rush things any more than you have to. Even if the pharmacy is met with a deluge of patients and customers reaching for pill bottles and asking a myriad of questions, it’s always okay to take things slow and control yourself. Prioritize your most important tasks and take care of them first so that all you have are the easiest, most minor, and most consistent work to do.
When your back is against the wall with no way out, then ask for help from some of your co-workers.
Stay Kind and Keep a Level Head
It would be best to always keep yourself in control and never do things that could get you in trouble or cause more stress. Some people think being” kind” means taking punishment and undue abuse with a smile on your face. No, you absolutely should not just explode on a rude customer who is shouting at you and yelling expletives for something that isn’t even your fault. Being kind means that you show kindness and patience to others as you would want for yourself.
If for some reason you find yourself suffering the symptoms of stress, like trouble breathing or confusion, then you need to identify those symptoms and their causes and take them out at the source. We recommend that you do not do so during the job, as that might distract from your task and result in the snowball effect we’ve discussed earlier. Instead, tackle these problems outside of work or consult them with friends or a professional.
Finally, if a customer is giving you a really hard time and you don’t know how to handle it outside of becoming the first employee to start a fistfight in a pharmacy, then notify management, ask a co-worker for help, or take a breather and walk away from the situation. The retail workplace consists of more than you and the customer, and believe me, your co-workers feel the same way you do all the time!
Talk to Your Manager
If needed, if your stress reaches critical, performance-harming levels of sickness, then discuss your stress with your manager and see if they can give you an extra day off or a sick day or change your shift into something more manageable. While not every boss is so kind as to do so, there is no harm in letting others know about your stress and problems. If they were to kick you out, then it’s a job not worth working anyway!
Enjoy Your Free Time
After a difficult day of work, you are finally back home. You may be ready to sleep because the day just took all night to finish. If that is the case, and it often is, then you should get some rest. If you managed to keep yourself up and energetic by the end of the day, entertain yourself with one of your favorite hobbies. Have some “me time” away from the workplace and recollect your thoughts.
Don’t work for the sake of working. You are a pharmacy technician because you enjoy the field and want your due compensation. If you work all day with no play, that’s not living; that’s just surviving.
Wrapping Things Up: Is Pharmacy Tech a Stressful Job?
Is pharmacy tech a stressful job? If you follow this advice and keep a cool head, it doesn’t have to be! Just because a job can induce stress doesn’t necessarily mean it is a stressful job. In the end, we have described what exactly goes into a pharmacy technician job to make it so stressful and what you can do to manage stress in a pharmacy technician job.