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What You Can and Can't Say to Customers as a Pharmacy Technician

If you're a pharmacy technician, you'll need to understand the limitations of your position when communicating with others. Here is an overview of the things you are and are not allowed to say when interacting with customers.

Nicole Krempasky

Nicole Krempasky

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While pharmacists and pharmacy technicians work together to ensure the health and well-being of customers, their roles are very different. Pharmacists are allowed to provide medical advice, but pharmacy technicians are forbidden to do so by law. If you're a pharmacy technician, you'll need to understand the limitations of your position when communicating with others. Here is an overview of the things you are and are not allowed to say when interacting with customers.

Providing advice related to medications: No!

Because pharmacy technicians do not undergo the medical training that pharmacists do, they are barred from advising customers on medications, including over-the-counter drugs and diet supplements. If a customer does ask you this type of question, you should forward it to the pharmacist or provide the customer with a way to contact the pharmacist if he or she isn’t available. The line between common knowledge and specialized pharmaceutical knowledge isn't always clear, but it's best to play it safe and leave the advising to the pharmacist. You can, however, inform customers that you're legally prohibited from providing advice.


Read more: How Do I Start My Career as a Pharmacy Technician?


Providing definitions or other readily available knowledge: Yes, but be careful

Often times, customers may ask for the definition of a certain term on their prescription or what brands of medication you have in stock. You can safely answer these questions without the pharmacist's help. In some cases, you can provide general information about a medication during a prescription refill. However, if customers ask about the effects of a certain ingredient or which brand you would recommend, refer them to the pharmacist.


Admitting your lack of expertise: Yes

It's perfectly fine to inform customers that you're not qualified to provide medical advice. It’s important to let them know this is for the benefit of their health and safety. It's a friendly gesture that can also improve the pharmacy's reputation and business.


Read more: 6 Places You Can Work as a Pharmacy Technician


Providing information as directed by the pharmacist: Yes, but be careful

If the pharmacist is busy, they may instruct you to relay information to a customer. Since this information came from a licensed pharmacist who granted you permission to pass it on, you can safely do so. You may want to write down the pharmacist's exact words to avoid any inaccuracies when getting back to the customer.


It can be tough to hold back advice, but remember that it is both for the customer’s safety as well as your own. Still confused about what you can and can't say as a pharmacy technician? Penn Foster's accredited online pharmacy technician program can help you better understand your responsibilities and limitations and help you take the first steps toward working in this rewarding field.


Read more: 10 Reasons to Become a Pharmacy Technician (share with your friends)


What tasks can a pharmacy technician not perform?

While there are a lot of duties that pharmacy technicians can perform, there are certain job duties that can only be performed by an actual pharmacist. Some of these include:

  • Providing health and wellness advice
  • Advising patients on prescriptions
  • Checking prescriptions for possible interactions


Read more: Pharmacy Technician Instructor Monique Wants Her Students to Succeed in Work and Life


What are some things a pharmacy technician can do?

Pharmacy technicians provide vital, valuable services to the public. Some of a pharm tech’s most common responsibilities include:

  • Receiving and processing prescription orders
  • Preparing and dispensing medications
  • Labeling and packaging medications
  • Maintaining medication inventory
  • Assisting with billing and insurance claims
  • Providing customer service and patient education
  • Adhering to pharmacy regulations and safety protocols


It is important, however, to remember that responsibilities for pharmacy technicians can vary state to state, as each state has its own individual requirements on what is and isn’t allowed to be performed.


Read more: Skills Every Pharmacy Technician Should Have


Learn the basics of being a pharmacy tech online

If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, you can take the first step toward this career through online training with Penn Foster’s Pharmacy Technician Professional Program. To learn more about how to become a pharmacy technician, how online pharm tech classes work, and more, reach out to our expert Admissions Specialists at 1-888-427-6500!


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