By COL Peter BulataoJune 2, 2010
The Army Medical Department Center and School's Pharmacy Branch Class 02-10 just established a high standard for future Pharmacy Specialist classes. Fourteen of the graduating technicians who volunteered to test for the national pharmacy certification exam passed.
The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) was established in January 1995, to create a consolidated national certification program for pharmacy technicians. The certification exam, which is accredited by the National Commission for Certification Agencies (NCCA) and is recognized and supported by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), ensures a minimum level of competency for pharmacy technician practice. Consisting of three test domains - assisting the pharmacist in serving patients; medication distribution and inventory control; and participating in the administration and management of pharmacy practice -the exam's historical pass rate since its inception in 1995 through data available June 2008 has been just 76 percent.
The Army's Pharmacy Technician Training program has a long history of producing technicians who served with distinction throughout the world in the array of full-spectrum Army operations. Despite designing and implementing one of the earliest formal pharmacy technician training courses in the United States in the early 1960s to obtaining one of the first American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) accreditations for a pharmacy technician training program in August 1983, national certification of Army pharmacy technicians remains a voluntary process. Only within the last year, as a culmination of the collective effort of numerous individuals, and in order to contribute to Army Pharmacy's Strategic Plan to gain 100 percent certification of its pharmacy technician workforce by 2015, the AMEDD C&S 's Pharmacy Branch has offered the PTCB's certification exam to its Soldiers prior to graduation.
Without altering its curriculum to 'train for the test', 93 percent of Pharmacy Branch's graduates who have volunteered to test for the certification exam have passed with the most recent graduating class achieving a 100 percent pass rate. Given the rigor of the exam, Class 02's success is a remarkable achievement. Their performance adds to the legacy of Army Pharmacy technicians, speaks highly of the outstanding cadre of Pharmacy Branch Instructors at the Academy, and resonates throughout the world that Army Pharmacy....is Army Strong!