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California Now Recognizes the NHA Pharmacy Technician Exam

  • December 21, 2016
  • RPh on the Go

pharmacy tech examLast month, the California State Board of Pharmacy approved the National Healthcareer Association’s (NHA) Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT). Prior to this approval, the state board only accepted one certification option. The NHA ExCPT is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), and many state Boards of Pharmacy across the country recognize it as a valid exam for entry-level pharmacy technicians.

The new approval will go into effect on January 1, 2017, giving pharmacy techs in the state of California a choice of certification programs necessary to meet state licensure requirements. As many pharmacies require applicants who’ve earned a certification (CPhT), the credential from the NHA helps candidates secure jobs in their chosen field.

This is part of an effort to ensure there are enough qualified pharmacy technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an estimated need of more than 400,000 pharmacy techs throughout the U.S. by 2024. The bureau also says the state of California employed more than 33,000 techs last year, more than any other state in the country.

The California State Board of Pharmacy reviewed a report released in January of this year, by the California Office of Professional Education Services (OPES). The organization evaluated the ExCPT alongside the other nationally accepted exam and decided it too, was developed according to the recognized standards.

Beyond the report, the OPES also enlisted the help of a panel of subject matter experts, including certified pharmacy technicians and licensed pharmacists, to assess how applicable the exams were to the actual job. The team of subject matter experts reviewed the exam’s ability to assess candidate knowledge across retail and hospital pharmacies.

The panel came to the conclusion that the ExCPT exam measured candidates’ readiness to enter the field more effectively than the other nationally recognized example, saying that it “captures a broader range of practical knowledge required of entry-level pharmacy technicians.” They also noted that the “knowledge tested on the ExCPT represents a broader middle ground that addresses both retail and hospital settings.” And they also commented on the ExCPT’s “emphasis on the prevention of medication errors enhances patient safety.”

Kaiser Permanente’s pharmacy professional affairs leader, Steve Gray said, “The approval of the ExCPT exam provides greater access to pharmacy technician jobs in California, where demand for these critical healthcare positions is growing. Kaiser Permanente applauds the Board of Pharmacy for recognizing the ExCPT and giving applicants more than one technician certification option.”

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