PTCB Gets a Big Win!

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
June 14, 2010

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, Inc. began testing pharmacy technicians in 1995 and has certified more than 365,000 technicians nationwide since then! However, success breeds imitators, and there is another nationally accredited certification examination for pharmacy technicians that was developed as a “me-too” and recently sold to an investment capital company. The “me-too” exam is administered by the Institute for Certification of Pharmacy Technicians and is marketed as the ExCPT (Examination for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians). In the time ExCPT has been offered, it appears that less than 20,000 technicians have been certified by ICPT, but there is no information available online to confirm or dispute that number.

It is clear that PTCB is a very successful program that ICHP fortunately helped develop now more than 15 years ago! It is also clear that as a collaboration of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the American Pharmacists Association, the Michigan Pharmacists Association, the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists and joining the group in 2001, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy was destined to be extremely successful from the start.

However, as soon as the ExCPT exam was developed, battle lines began to form with NACDS (the National Association of Chain Drugstores) and the NCPA (the National Community Pharmacists Association) who jumped on the bandwagon of the late-comer. NACDS had opposed the PTCB exam from the start, and this new exam seemed to be another tool to use in the fight. Fortunately, Walgreens, one of NACDS’s largest members has not only embraced the PTCB examination but has developed a special working relationship with PTCB and has provided many of those in the ranks of the 360+ thousand PTCB certified technicians. Many other chains also collaborate closely with PTCB to manage their pharmacy technician certification processes, so NACDS’s endorsement of the ExCPT does not seem to be worth a great deal.

However, in May the Texas State Board of Pharmacy concluded a stringent and side-by-side evaluation of the PTCB exam and ICPT exam using three independent psychometricians and found that the PTCB examination was superior. The Texas State Board of Pharmacy voted to accept the PTCB examination as its one standard certification test in Texas! This is a great decision for PTCB and for pharmacy technicians nationwide. If this review is accepted by other state boards of pharmacy, we could be moving to one certification exam for pharmacy technicians just as we have one licensure exam for pharmacists (NAPLEX).

Here is what PTCB had to say about the Texas decision in a press-release on May 20th:


WASHINGTON, DC—The Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) has awarded the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Provider contract in Texas. PTCB has actively certified pharmacy technicians in Texas since 1995 and this new contract with the TSBP is effective immediately.

Gay Dodson, R.Ph., Executive Director of the TSBP, indicated that “In 1995, the TSBP became the first state to require all pharmacy technicians to have taken and passed the PTCB exam. In 2001, the Texas Legislature placed this requirement into the Pharmacy Act and made passing a board-approved certification examination a pre-requisite to registration.” PTCB was selected for the contract after a rigorous bidding and evaluation process that included formal reviews and evaluations from three independent psychometricians. The thorough evaluation process began in 2008 and allowed TSBP to confidently recognize PTCB as a single provider of accredited certification examinations for pharmacy technicians.

TSBP is the state agency responsible for the licensure and discipline of Texas pharmacists, pharmacies, and pharmacy technicians. PTCB will continue its longstanding relationship with TSBP to further support the more than 38,000 active PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs) currently working in various pharmacy settings throughout the state of Texas. To date, PTCB has certified over 60,000 pharmacy technicians in Texas and has certified more than 370,000 technicians nationwide.

“PTCB believes that patients expect and deserve a high standard of safety when it comes to how their prescription medications are dispensed and consistent requirements for pharmacy technician certification in every state is an important first step towards meeting those standards,” said Melissa Murer Corrigan, RPh, Executive Director and CEO of PTCB. “PTCB is excited to continue our work in Texas and we applaud TSBP’s leadership.”

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Model Practice Act recommends that states that certify technicians recognize certification by PTCB and that all pharmacy technicians be PTCB certified by 2015.

About the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

PTCB was established in January 1995 and is governed by five pharmacy organizations - the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists (ICHP), the Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA) and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The goal of the PTCB national certification program is to enable pharmacy technicians to work more effectively with pharmacists to offer safe and effective patient care and service. PTCB contracts with Pearson VUE, the industry’s technology leader, as its computer-based testing vendor. PTCB draws upon the experience and expertise of its 13-year partner, Professional Examination Service (PES) for test development.

It is the hope of ICHP that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will look at this independent evaluation in the near future and come to the same conclusion. In addition, it is the hope that PTCB will collaborate with NABP to provide a rapid reporting system to assist state boards of pharmacy in confirming the certification status of pharmacy technicians around the country as they apply for registration.

One test for pharmacist licensure has been accepted for many years, and one test for pharmacy technician certification makes just as much if not more sense! With technicians outnumbering pharmacists nationwide at least two or three-to-one, it will be even more important to have one place to go to check credentials and confirm certification. Obviously ICHP has a huge stake in the process, but even without that consideration, one test makes sense. Thanks Texas for moving us one step closer to that day!

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