With pharmacy's role in health care delivery expanding, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) plans to raise its standards for national certification and recertification.


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Certification requirements upped for pharmacy techs

February 28th, 2013

WASHINGTON – With pharmacy's role in health care delivery expanding, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) plans to raise its standards for national certification and recertification.

PTCB said Wednesday that it will phase in the changes over the next seven years. Designed to advance pharmacy technician qualifications, the changes include mandatory background checks and accredited education requirements, as well as changes in acceptable continuing education programs for recertification.

The board noted that its requirements have been largely unchanged since the organization's launch in 1995.

"PTCB is elevating our certification requirements in order to meet the demands of the evolving health care system," Everett McAllister, executive director and chief executive officer of PTCB, said in a statement. "We have made bold decisions on what will be required for candidates to become certified pharmacy technicians (CPhTs). Our board of governors is sharply focused on ensuring that the PTCB program prepares CPhTs for the integral roles they play in supporting pharmacists in all practice settings."

Plans call for new PTCB certification candidates to be required to complete criminal background checks beginning in or around 2014. The board said many employers already require background checks as a condition of employment, and PTCB will collaborate with stakeholders to synchronize with the current systems.

Also in 2014, as part of the 20 hours of continuing education (CE) required for recertification, CPhTs will need to complete one hour of medication safety CE, in addition to the one hour of law CE already required.

And by 2015, PTCB will require all 20 recertification CE hours to be pharmacy technician-specific. Many current CE offerings already fit this definition, according to the board. The allowable CE hours from college courses will be pared from 15 to 10 by 2016, and allowable in-service hours will be phased out by 2018.

By 2020, candidates for initial PTCB certification will have to successfully complete an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-accredited education program. These programs include didactic course work and practical experience, with the aim of providing well-rounded training for technicians.

PTCB said that starting on Wednesday it's conducting a 90-day open, online comment period on its PTCB.org website to allow the pharmacy community to share best practices for implementing the new requirements. The board plans to begin releasing the policies and procedures regarding the implementation of these decisions later this year.

The program changes stem from PTCB initiative that began with a 2011 summit focused on five areas related to pharmacy technicians: consumer awareness, resources, education, state policy and testing (C.R.E.S.T.), PTCB added. Summit attendees included pharmacists, CPhTs, educators, major employers, state boards of pharmacy and others. Summit findings, combined with results from two professionwide surveys, called for PTCB and the pharmacy profession to make decisive changes in certification standards.

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