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 you encounter such a 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.
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. They'll appreciate your concern for their health and safety and also understand that you're not directing them to the pharmacist out of laziness. It's a friendly gesture that can also improve the pharmacy's reputation and business.
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 the customer's safety and your career are on the line. It's best to leave it to the pharmacist. 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.
Understanding Your Scope of Practice as a Pharmacy Technician | CareerStep