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Pharmacy Technician Career Paths at UnitedHealth Group

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Pharmacy Technician career at UnitedHealth Group can be challenging, yet very rewarding at the same time. Our Pharmacy Technicians aren’t just clerks and cashiers. At UnitedHealth Group, they work in a fast-paced environment directly with patients entering and filling prescriptions and communicate with physician’s offices to provide personal and detailed service.

Meet Kelly Benson, Pharmacy Technician Supervisor at UnitedHealth Group and learn more about career paths for Pharmacy Technicians at UnitedHealth Group.

1. Why did you choose a career as a Pharmacy Technician?

Years ago, I worked as a customer service trainer for a local grocery store.  The company upgraded their software system.  I was scheduled to teach the pharmacy staff the new system.  I worked in the pharmacy with the staff after training to make sure they were comfortable navigating the system and was amazed at the work they did every day.  While I was in the pharmacy, I witnessed an interaction between a patient and the staff that truly inspired me.  She was an oncology patient who had come into the pharmacy to thank the staff for saving her life.  She was coming from her oncologist’s office with news that her cancer was in remission.  I wanted to help people like they helped that patient, so I changed positions and was hired to work in the pharmacy full time.

2. What's are most important qualities for a Pharmacy Technician to have?
I believe the most important qualities for a Pharmacy Technician to have are very strong attention to detail, the ability to multitask, strong math skills, be coachable, and be a great team player.

3. How is being a Pharmacy Technician at UnitedHealth Group different than working in a retail environment?
Working in a retail setting is completely different than working for UnitedHealth Group.  Working in a retail setting, the interaction between the technician and the patient is typically brief and informal. The patient’s physician will usually call in medications or patients will call in automated refills, so verbal communication from patients is very limited. The patient simply comes to pick up their medication and (if there are no questions) leaves. Most retail pharmacies do not provide specialty medications to patients so there is not a heightened sense of urgency for a fast resolution when problems arise. Working at OptumRX, a UnitedHealth Group Business, Pharmacy Technicians have more detailed and personal interaction with patients.  We speak with the patients before every refill and they provide updates on their therapy.  OptumRX provides specialty medications to patients, which involves us providing a high level of service to both patients and physicians. We understand that specialty medications are often life sustaining medications, so we have protocols for these high touch medications. We provide services that retail pharmacies cannot always provide such as: assisting physician offices with filling out prior authorization forms, the ability to Facetime with a pharmacist before starting treatment, and having a pharmacist or a nurse available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. 

4. Do you work as a Pharmacy Fulfillment Technician or a Pharmacy Dispensing Technician? What are the differences in these two roles?
I do both of these roles.  I am currently the Supervisor of the Pharmacy Technicians at the pharmacy I work at.  The roles are different.  The Pharmacy Dispensing Technicians are broken out into 2 groups.  We have one group of Pharmacy Dispensing Technicians that do the data entry of prescriptions and work to resolve claim rejections.  We have a second group of Pharmacy Dispensing Technicians that work in the pharmacy area and are responsible for preparing, counting and labeling patient orders for the final pharmacist check.  The Pharmacy Fulfillment Technicians receive the order after the pharmacist completes the final check and appropriately packages the order for shipment.

5. What type of experience and training did you have prior to getting hired at UnitedHealth Group as a Pharmacy Technician?
All of the training I received prior to being hired at UnitedHealth Group was on the job training. I have been blessed to have worked for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians who were willing to take the time to teach me and help me grow professionally.
Before joining UnitedHealth Group, I worked in a few different pharmacy settings.  I have worked in a retail pharmacy, a home infusion pharmacy, a mail order pharmacy and now a specialty pharmacy.  Each pharmacy setting I have worked in has helped me grow into the Pharmacy Technician I am today. I have learned so much from every experience from infusion therapy to compounding medicines to specialty medications such as IVIG and hemophilia medications. I continue to learn every single day and that excites me.

6. Did UnitedHealth Group provide job-specific training to you as a Pharmacy Technician when you were hired? What type of training did they provide?
I already had this training when I was hired, but we do have a great training program to help Pharmacy Technicians that want to become Nationally Certified. 

7. What are your biggest challenges as a Pharmacy Technician at UnitedHealth Group?
This may sound a little strange to anyone who has worked in a retail pharmacy setting, but one of the challenges that I face as a Pharmacy Technician today is not seeing our patients face to face. If we could find a way to connect a face to a name for our patients, I think it would build an even stronger connection.  

8. What are the career growth opportunities someone can expect as a Pharmacy Technician at UnitedHealth Group?
I would have to answer this question as honest as I can.  I believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to career growth opportunity at UnitedHealth Group.  A Pharmacy Technician can be just a stepping stone to greater things.  It truly depends on the individual person and their motivation and drive.  I have friends who were Pharmacy Technicians and were so inspired by working in the pharmacy, they decided to go back to school to finish their undergrad and then to pharmacy school to become a pharmacist.  There is growth in the pharmacy setting and outside the pharmacy setting, you just have to go out and go for it.

9. What advice would you give to someone thinking of choosing a career as a Pharmacy Technician?
My advice to anyone looking to begin a Pharmacy Technician career would be to pay more attention in math class, ask questions, be a good listener and learn to take excellent notes. 

10. What are you passionate about outside of work and how do you bring your passion to work?
I have been a youth coach for over 25 years.  I coach both basketball and softball to young athletes.  Besides teaching the fundamentals of the game, I first teach my athletes the importance of being a team player and working together as a team. I tell them that they may be the best player on the team, but you will not find true success without your team.  That is something that I bring to work with me every day.  I want to be the best team player I can be and help my pharmacy succeed.  I am a teacher and I love to teach others what I know to see others succeed.


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