Language Skills for Pharmacy Technicians – Understanding the Role of the Pharmacy Technician

The Ontario College of Pharmacists expresses the role of the pharmacy technician by describing its functions. These are organized into four categories:

  • Assisting the pharmacist in the preparation of prescriptions;
  • Clerical activities;
  • Communication skills;
  • Inventory management.

You will see a lengthy list of tasks listed below. These tasks are in no particular order.
Read through the entire list and make sure that you understand what all of the words mean, for example “affixing” and “aseptic”.

Then, on a separate sheet of paper, write down the four categories provided above. Think about each task and write them down under the appropriate categories. For example, “pricing prescriptions” belongs under the category of “passisting the pharmacist in the preparation of prescriptions”.

Take your time. Use this opportunity to become “pactive”. After you have written down the tasks, check your spelling. Is it 100% accurate? Remember that spelling and grammar must be correct in any kind of job search document. Accuracy is a key competency for a pharmacy technician.

Now that you have had to apply it, check your understanding of the vocabulary. It is one thing to read and understand a word – it is another thing to use it.

Here are the tasks (there are 34 in total):

  • Filing prescriptions
  • Billing appropriate department for medication
  • Preparing IV admixtures, TPN solutions, chemotherapeutic agents requiring aseptic technique
  • Delivery of medications to institutional wards
  • Preparing and placing orders from specified sources
  • Ensuring completeness of information on prescription
  • Maintaining storage facilities
  • Rotating stock and monitoring expiry dates
  • Reconstituting medications
  • Preparing specialty products
  • Preparing and reconciling third party billings
  • Issuing supplies from the storeroom
  • Retrieving, counting, pouring, weighing, measuring and mixing medications
  • Maintaining packaging and dispensing equipment
  • Generating long-term care data (i.e. medication administration record, medication review)
  • Monitoring stock levels to ensure sufficient quantities for optimal operation
  • Affixing prescription and auxiliary labels to prescription containers
  • Pricing prescriptions
  • Receiving and checking supplies purchased
  • Maintaining drug information files
  • Replenishing medications for nursing units, night cupboards, emergency boxes and cardiac arrest kits
  • Restocking medications and related supplies
  • Establishing and maintaining patient profiles
  • Receiving and sending electronic communication
  • Communicating with customers, physicians and suppliers. Questions relating to prescriptions, drug information, poison information, or any health matter must be referred to the pharmacist.
  • Identifying expired products for disposal, destruction, or return to manufacturer
  • Receiving a written prescription or request for a prescription refill from the patient or representative
  • Preparing receipts, invoices, letters and memos, and general filing
  • Prepackaging of medications (including unit dose packaging)
  • Restocking of institutional wards with narcotics and controlled drugs
  • Preparation of prescription labels
  • Repackaging and labeling of medications
  • Maintaining inventory records, including those for narcotic and controlled drugs
  • Selecting type of prescription container

If you are done with grouping the tasks into 4 categories, check the answer key

In conclusion . . .
If you feel comfortable with the vocabulary in this exercise you are now ready to take another look at your resume and cover letters (or to begin preparing them). Which of the above tasks can you do? How can you prove it? How can you express your experience using accurate and descriptive terms?

To learn more about resume and cover letter writing, go to

If you are not yet comfortable with the vocabulary in this exercise, what can you do about that? Are there people you can talk to? If this terminology is relevant to your job search, you will find a way to be able to spell it, pronounce it and use it!! Good luck!