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Pharmacy Technician CE Changes

Explanation of the Changes in Pharmacy Technician CE

There have been changes in the rules affecting pharmacy technician CE. The changes can be a bit confusing and several people have thought that they understood the new rules, only to find out that there was some confusion. We'll make it easier to understand:

The changes affect the PROVIDERS who create the CE. Specifically, the changes affect CE providers who are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

ACPE told its accredited providers that they need to designate CE as being for pharmacists or for technicians, or for both groups.

Before 2008, any CE courses that ACPE-accredited providers offered to pharmacists were also accredited for technicians. But now ACPE requires accredited providers to designate courses for pharmacists or for technicians, or for both.

Here's how you can tell which courses are for technicians. All courses from ACPE-accredited providers have an ACPE number. These numbers now end with either a "P" (for pharmacists) or a "T" (for technicians). Some courses have both "P" and a "T" numbers and are designated for both groups.

But ACPE does not tell pharmacy technicians what courses they must take. ACPE does not set rules for pharmacy technicians. CE requirements for pharmacy technicians are set by employers, state boards, and national certification agencies, such as the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

Some pharmacy technicians may not need any CE, or may not need any CE from an ACPE-accredited provider. Pharmacy technicians should look to the following authorities to determine what CE to take:
  1. a technician's own preferences and the information a technician needs to do a good job
  2. any requirements of the technician's employer,
  3. any requirements of the technician's state,
  4. any requirements of the technician's national certification agency, such as PTCB.
Here's where the confusion comes from. Currently, PTCB does not require technicians to obtain CE from an ACPE accredited provider. But ACPE requires that its providers designate CE as being for pharmacists or for technicians, or both.

This means that if a technician asks PTCB if they must take courses that are designated as a "T" course from an ACPE provider, PTCB is likely to answer "no." Since PTCB has not changed it's requirements, technicians are being told that there are no changes in the rules.

Since ACPE told its providers that courses must be designated "P" or "T", ACPE providers are telling technicians which courses are "T" courses for technicians to take.

ACPE issued a guidance document to its accredited providers called, Guidelines Associated with the ACPE Definition of Continuing Education for the Profession of Pharmacy. This document addresses this issue. Two relevant excerpts from ACPE's document are:

"What happens if pharmacy technicians attend and participate in a CPE activity designed for pharmacists ("P" designation)? The UPN designation is based upon the content and the intended audience. If the content is geared for pharmacists, the UPN should have a "P" designation and the statements of credit should contain a UPN with the "P" designation. The pharmacy technician would receive a "P" designated statement of credit that should not be acceptable to the pharmacy technicians' regulatory body."

"What happens if pharmacists attend and participate in a CPE activity designed for pharmacy technicians ("T" designation)? The UPN designation is based upon the content and the intended audience. If the content is geared for pharmacy technicians, the UPN should have a "T" designation and the statements of credit should contain a UPN with the "T" designation. The pharmacist would receive a "T" designated statement of credit that should not be acceptable for credit for relicensure."

So what is a technician to do?

Technicians should first determine if they need CE and if so how much.

To meet these requirements a technician can use a variety of courses, usually including "P" courses. That's because at this point state boards and national certification agencies may not indicate that a technician needs "T" courses.

Some ACPE accredited providers may only offer "P" courses to pharmacists and "T" course to technicians.

If a technician needs CE and takes "T" courses that are from an ACPE accredited provider, then the technician can have confidence that the course is likely to be high quality and is likely to meet any requirements. This may be "overkill" in that state boards and national certification agencies may accept courses that are not ACPE accredited provider "T" courses or may even accept courses from providers not accredited by ACPE.

We hope this helps clarify the change. If you have any questions feel free to call Pharmacist's Letter or Pharmacy Technician's Letter at 209-472-2240 or send an email to mail@pletter.com.