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Directly Speaking
Attention PTCB Certified Technicians!!!

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President

If the title of this month’s column got your attention, chances are, you’re a PTCB certified tech or someone who works with one or more of them. And that’s great! Because I want to share some important information that should convince you or them to maintain your or their PTCB certification.

First of all, let me share some facts for certified pharmacy technicians who practice in the once great State of Illinois. While Illinois requires new pharmacy technicians to obtain certification prior to their second license renewal, the State does not limit certification by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Inc. (PTCB) only. The Pharmacy Practice Act requires “he or she has successfully passed an examination accredited by the National Organization of Certifying Agencies, as approved and required by the Board.” Unfortunately, there is another examination available that meets that requirement, although little is known about the test details, and ownership is not by pharmacy professional organizations but rather a for-profit entity. In addition, the State of Illinois does not require that once certified, pharmacy technicians maintain their certification. The State does now require that all certified pharmacy technicians obtain 20 hours of ACPE approved continuing pharmacy education (CPE) every two years including at least one hour of pharmacy law and one hour of patient safety CPE beginning in 2017. By the way, these are the same requirements for maintaining PTCB certification.

Now, let me share the many reasons why every Illinois PTCB certified pharmacy technician should maintain their certification.
  1. You now have to obtain the same CPE credits in Illinois to maintain your registration as you do to maintain your PTCB certification. The only extra component is the $40 recertification fee. Because Illinois requires ACPE approved technician CPE credits, NABP’s CPE Monitor can and most likely will be used to document compliance. PTCB also uses NABP’s CPE Monitor to verify compliance so reporting will become infinitely more reasonable for both programs.
  2. What if you want to move to another State? The Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE) is administered in all 50 States, and 23 of those States and the District of Columbia include the PTCE in their regulations. If you move to one of those States, you will need to maintain your certification! Or take the test again, which seems to me like a much bigger challenge. But it is your call.
  3. What if you want to change employers? While PTCB certification is not a State requirement, it is a requirement of many Illinois hospital pharmacy directors. You may not have to have already passed the PTCE to work in one of these hospitals, but you may be required to pass it within a certain amount of time on the job. So why wouldn’t you be better off maintaining your initial certification rather than have to take the test again, or worse yet, lose out on a great job opportunity because you let your certification lapse! I promise you, I will never let my Illinois pharmacist license lapse until I can no longer think of working in a pharmacy, even though ICHP doesn’t require me to keep mine active.
  4. PTCB is now in the process of developing three new Advance Certifications for Pharmacy Technicians in the areas of Sterile Compounding, Community Pharmacy Practice and Hospital Pharmacy Practice. In every case, current certification by PTCB will be a prerequisite for sitting for these advanced certifications. If you can’t wait for one of these specialty recognitions, you had better have the initial certification intact and up to date!
  5. Every time you recertify with PTCB, you receive another certificate! While this may be a less significant reason to recertify, those certificates look pretty impressive on the walls of pharmacies across the State, and earlier versions can look very inspiring on an office wall at work or at home. Each new certificate not only represents your current status as a PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technician, but it also represents your commitment to continue to learn and grow because of the minimum 20 hours of CPE credit you had obtained in order to receive each certificate. These certificates represent bookmarks in your life story, and you should be proud to display them.
  6. Finally, while recertification is not currently a State requirement here in Illinois, it is in some other States, so maintaining your certification now gives you peace of mind just in case the laws ever change here in Illinois and recertification becomes a requirement.

I think I have identified enough reasons why you should maintain your PTCB certification, even though it is not currently required in Illinois. I know I sure would if I was a PTCB CPhT! Yes, the $40 every two years is money you might not need to spend, but someday or at some job it might be and that $40 looks a lot easier to come up with than retaking the PTCE, missing out on a sweet job, or changing careers because you have to move to another state.  

If you agree, make sure you recertify and make sure you share this with your PTCB certified colleagues. They will appreciate it and hopefully you have, too!

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