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North Dakota

By Dustin Mullaney, CPhT, CSPT | Pharmacy Technician Coordinator
Avera Mckennan Hospital & University Health Center - Avera Cancer Institute, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

North Dakota is at the forefront of training and advancing pharmacy technicians into specialized roles.  

For a new pharmacy technician-in-training in the state of North Dakota, an individual has three years to complete an ASHP accredited education course or an ASHP accredited on-the-job training program, and must obtain certification by a board approved national certification body within that timeframe as well.  Once a technician-in-training becomes certified and registered with the state as a pharmacy technician, it becomes the responsibility of the pharmacist-in-charge to place them at an appropriate level of advancement based on observed abilities and needs of the organization.

State Regulation
As it is written within the North Dakota State Board of Pharmacy Administrative Code 60-02-07.1-05, under the responsibility of the pharmacist-in-charge or designated staff pharmacist the pharmacy technician may perform any service assigned by the pharmacist-in-charge in the preparation of pharmaceuticals to be dispensed by the pharmacist to a patient except as specified.   This broad statement gives those pharmacists-in-charge the ability to guide their technicians into advanced areas of interest while also focusing on the areas of need for that organization.

Roles and Responsibilities
As delegated by a pharmacist, and with the exception of tasks requiring professional judgment of a pharmacists, North Dakota pharmacy technicians can perform several advanced responsibilities if he or she has shown the proper ability and aptitude. These duties include:

  • Receiving a telephone order for a new prescription
  • Medication reconciliation
  • Controlled substance management
  • End product verification (tech-check-tech)
  • 340b and inventory management 
  • Personnel supervision and management 

These advanced pharmacy technician roles gives the pharmacist the ability to focus on direct patient care while at the same time giving more intrinsic value to the technician role.

Other State Models
Utah and Idaho have made progress in many areas to increase the responsibilities and improve the job satisfaction of pharmacy technicians.  There is no doubt that other state boards of pharmacy will continue to follow the examples set by states like North Dakota.

National Strides
Looking outside of the state regulations, great strides have been made in the efforts to push technicians beyond the role of counting medications.  The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) now offers advanced credentialing in:

  • Compounded Sterile Preparations Technician Certification
  • Technician Product Verification
  • Medication History

In 2020, the PTCB will also be launching advanced credentialing in the forms of:

  • Hazardous Drug Management
  • Controlled Substance Diversion Prevention
  • Billing and Reimbursement

With the completion of four of these advanced credentials, and having at least three years of work experience, a certified technician will be eligible to earn the PTCB Advanced Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT-Adv) designation when it becomes available.

It is a very good time to be a pharmacy technician and the need for advanced personnel will continue to boost the entire practice of pharmacy across the nation.  An individual looking for their place in life will hopefully see the idea of becoming a pharmacy technician as more than just a stepping stone, and what we do is not simply a job, but a valuable member of the healthcare community and also a truly fulfilling career. North Dakota is paving the way to elevate the roles and professionalism of pharmacy technicians. #ASHPPharmTech


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