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Sterile Compounding Technician Toolkit

Sterile compounding is a complex specialty that allows pharmacy technicians to work in an advanced role. There are many different practice settings such as hospitals, infusion centers, compounding facilities and more. In general, a sterile compounding role involves creating IV infusions in a clean room setting using aseptic technique, a process that allows the end medication to be sterile enough for injection into the patient. These roles require absolute precision and a strong attention to detail as small mistakes can have devastating consequences. Compared to a typical outpatient pharmacy role, such as in a community pharmacy, the sterile compounding technician works much more independently.

Sterile compounding roles require in-depth knowledge of the various state, federal, and non-governmental guidelines that regulate the practice. Some of the most important regulations are those created by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a scientific nonprofit organization. These regulations are categorized into three main sections, based on the type of compounding done. They are USP <795> for nonsterile compounding, USP <797> for sterile compounding, and USP 800, for hazardous compounding.

The resources below will help familiarize you with the different practice settings, competencies, and expectations that come with an advanced role position in sterile compounding as a pharmacy technician.

Job Descriptions

Below are some real-life examples of job descriptions for pharmacy technician sterile compounding roles. The level of education and experience sought by employers, as well as what the role description are included. As mentioned, there are many different roles for compounding technicians, and these represent only a small portion of those roles.

Sterile Compounding

This section includes links to better demonstrate what sterile compounding looks like on a day-to-day basis; from actual compounding to structural layouts of IV Rooms, and automated devices that assist in the start-to-finish accuracy of compounding products. For a simple introduction to compounding, and how the technician demonstrates and explains the importance of practicing aseptic technique, follow the links below.

As previously mentioned, there are three main regulations within sterile compounding. Each section is unique in its own way through guidelines, specific location for compounding, and how these locations may be organized in space. To better understand the spatial set up of an IV room that contains both USP <797> and USP <800> utilization, follow the link below.

It is very important to keep the compounding environments sterile, so that the medications reach the patients safely for administration. In order to hold this regulation of high standard, there are specific techniques to be practiced. For proper cleaning techniques and products, the following article is useful in outlining how to clean the IV rooms and the order in which to use specific products.

Automation devices can assist in sterile compounding, increasing the accuracy of prepared medications. The following link explains the BD Pyxis IV Prep program which uses gravimetric & barcode verification along with electronic documentation.

Training and Education

Formal training and education programs are important for pharmacy technicians to be able to demonstrate their expertise through formal certification. The below programs are designed for pharmacy technicians who already working in a compounding practice setting.

Practical Training in Compounding Sterile Preparations Certificate

Description: This self-guided, online program is a PTCB-recognized sterile compounding education/training program for those who are pursuing the PTCB Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician® (CSPT®) certification.

The program provides 29 hours of ACPE continuing education for pharmacists and technicians, incorporating recorded presentations, readings, video demonstrations, and exercises in curricular modules. The program covers sterile product preparation practice standards and regulations, pharmacy calculations, facilities and equipment, cleanroom personnel behaviors and expectations, sterile compounding components and procedures, stability, sterility, non-sterile to sterile compounding, hazardous drugs, and all aspects of handling from material receipt to final check or disposal. After completing all of the modules, participants should be proficient in the fundamental concepts required to ensure safe and compliant sterile product preparation.

Target Audience: Pharmacist and Technicians

Cost: $445 (ASHP Member), $545 (Non-ASHP Member)

Organization: ASHP

CSPT Certification

Description: Many pharmacy technicians are responsible for sterile compounding, the preparation of medications in a sterile environment to prevent contamination. Becoming a Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician® (CSPT®) demonstrates a CPhT’s knowledge and skill as a specialized pharmacy technician as well as their commitment to the role they play in ensuring medication safety. Earning the CSPT Certification provides the opportunity to be recognized by your employer and colleagues for successfully meeting PTCB’s rigorous requirements for this advanced credential.

Eligibility Criteria: An active PTCB CPhT must qualify under one of the following pathways:

Pathway 1: Completion of, or enrollment in, a PTCB-Recognized Education/Training Program for the CSPT Program AND one year of full-time continuous compounded sterile preparation (CSP) work experience.

Pathway 2: Three years of full-time continuous compounded sterile preparation (CSP) work experience.

Cost: $199

Pharmacy technicians who enroll in ASHP’S Sterile Product Preparation Certificate Program and complete PTCB’s Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician® (CSPT® ) Certification save $219 and receive a one-year ASHP technician membership.

Continuing Education

As an ASHP technician member, you have access to the PharmacyTechCE catalog, a collection of continuing education resources that are available at a discount or at no additional cost. Below are some compounding related CE activities that will help you learn more about the role and what it entails.

Pharmacy Technicians: Getting Started in Sterile Compounding

(Must be an ASHP tech member to access PharmacytechCE site.)

Description: Sterile compounding is a unique challenge for pharmacy technicians and is an exciting professional path. This webinar presents information about sterile compounding, what it is, the minimum requirements to sterile compound, and in what settings this training is useful. Entry level and advanced positions will be discussed. This presentation describes sterile compounding, identifies what education and training is needed by pharmacy technicians related to sterile compounding, and discusses the practice settings where sterile compounding is utilized and required.

Cost: Free to ASHP technician members and PharmacytechCE subscribers

CE Credits: 1.0 hours

Sterile Compounding Technology: Pharmacy Technicians Lead the Adoption of Best Practices

(Must be an ASHP tech member to access PharmacytechCE site.)

Description: Over the past 10 years there has been growth and maturity in the compounding technology market and increased uptake in the use of sterile compounding technologies by pharmacies. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, like other healthcare providers, are increasingly feeling the pressure of a reduced workforce during the pandemic. Many are also experiencing burnout which can directly impact compounding success. Together, pharmacists and technicians must address these challenges to improve the safety of sterile compounding practices as well as continue to increase the safe use of technology in the process. This presentation describes common challenges faced by technicians using technology in the sterile compounding process and the role that technicians play in designing a safe workflow plan. In addition, the new sterile compounding best practice guidelines for 2022 from ISMP are reviewed as part of the program. 

Cost: Free to ASHP technician members and PharmacytechCE subscribers

CE Credits: 1.0 hours

What’s All the Fuss About? Safe Handling of Hazardous Drugs – USP <800>

(Must be an ASHP tech member to access PharmacytechCE site.)

Description: Since the first ASHP guidelines on handling hazardous drugs were published in 1983, it is known that hazardous drugs have the potential to negatively affect anyone that is inadvertently exposed to them – occupational exposure in the health care setting being a primary concern. Many studies have been done that have demonstrated the long term effects of being exposed to hazardous drugs, especially if not handled appropriately. To reduce unintended harm to those who handle hazardous drugs, all institutions that handle hazardous drugs will be required to follow the revised USP <800> standards, scheduled to be enforceable starting November 2023. This presentation begins with an overview of basic medication safety concepts and will discuss how pharmacy technicians are uniquely skilled to prevent many medication errors throughout the medication use process. The presentation will also discuss tools pharmacy technicians can use to apply medication safety concepts to recognize or prevent medication errors in their practice.

Cost: Free to ASHP technician members and PharmacytechCE subscribers

CE Credits: 1.0 hours