Directly Speaking - Support the PTCE!

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
August 10, 2016

Many of you already know this, but ICHP is one of the founders and owners of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Inc. (PTCB). However, because PTCB has been around now for more than 20 years and has certified more than 585,000 pharmacy technicians nationwide, many people have begun to take it for granted.

Many of our pharmacy director members now require their technicians to take PTCB’s Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE) in order to remain employed at their facilities. The State of Illinois now requires pharmacy technicians to become certified before their second license renewal and accepts the PTCE as one of two recognized certification examinations.

What you may not know, although you would have to be living a very sheltered life if you don’t, is that in 2020, PTCB plans to require completion of an ASHP/ACPE accredited technician training program prior to sitting for the PTCE. PTCB in conjunction with ASHP, ACPE and APhA are planning a national stakeholders’ conference next Feb. 14-17 in Dallas, Texas to develop a vision and a consensus of where technician training, education and certification should be headed. With the input of pharmacists, technicians and technician educators from around the country, these four organizations hope to identify the future for pharmacy technicians.

In the meantime, ASHP and ACPE continue to accredit more training programs nationwide. The first online program was accredited this summer, and there are more in the pipeline, opening up opportunities for larger and possibly even small employers to incorporate the resources at their worksites in order to meet the proposed 2020 requirement. PTCB’s proposed requirement for accredited training will raise the bar for all pharmacy technicians and bring the technician position to a higher level similar to radiology techs, dental hygienists and other medical support personnel.

Illinois has always led the way with regard to pharmacy technicians, being the second State to certify technicians, following Michigan’s lead, and eventually partnering with Michigan, ASHP and APhA to form PTCB. ICHP was one of the first state organizations to create a technician membership and quickly followed with placing a pharmacy technician on the ICHP Board of Directors. ICHP publishes Pharmacy Tech Topics™, a national home-study continuing pharmacy education product that helps certified pharmacy technicians nationwide maintain their PTCB certification.

So here’s how each member of ICHP can support the PTCE:
  1. Encourage (and require if you’re the director or manager) your pharmacy technicians to take the PTCE as their national certifying exam.
  2. Help your technicians prepare for the exam with thorough training and by providing additional study and prep materials, available from ASHP, a list of which can be found here: List
  3. Begin exploring what it will take to create an ASHP/ACPE accredited training program at your worksite, community college or in your region.
  4. Begin speaking with your state legislators to change the pharmacy practice act to require the PTCE as the only certification examination recognized in Illinois. (Illinois only recognizes the NAPLEX for licensure of pharmacists, right?)
  5. Watch for announcements of future advanced certifications coming from PTCB in Sterile Compounding, Hospital Pharmacy Practice and Community Pharmacy Practice.
Illinois pharmacy has been a leader for pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technician certification. We need to continue our drive to advance the skills and knowledge of pharmacy technicians so that pharmacists may maximize the use of their own skills and knowledge in caring for our patients! A well-trained and educated pharmacy team will provide better care for our patients. Support the PTCE! 

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