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Chemotherapy Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Chemotherapy technicians mix and monitor medications for oncology patients. Employers may prefer candidates who are already certified pharmacy technicians.

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Job Description for Chemotherapy Technicians

Chemotherapy technicians typically work under a physician or pharmacist's direct supervision. They usually work in oncology treatment centers in a hospital pharmacy setting. These workers are a specialized form of pharmacy technician and provide patient services while assisting medical personnel.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't publish data pertaining specifically to chemotherapy technicians, it does have figures for the closely related pharmacy technician field. The BLS predicts positions for all pharmacy technicians will increase by 20% between 2012 and 2022. This is quite a bit faster than the national average for all jobs. The BLS also states that, as of May 2012, pharmacy technicians made a median annual salary of $29,320.

Chemotherapy Technician Duties

Chemotherapy technicians prepare chemotherapy medications for oncology patients. They are also responsible for maintaining a sanitary work environment and patient area. From an administrative standpoint, they manage and restock pharmaceutical inventory, and they are often responsible for ordering supplies. Chemotherapy technicians must also keep records of patient doses and drug mixtures, usually through an electronic filing system, for health and billing purposes.

Chemotherapy technicians label pharmaceutical chemicals appropriately and mix medication solutions using specialized equipment in a sterile environment. They also provide assistance as needed to other medical personnel, such as pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

Requirements for Chemotherapy Technicians

In addition to a high school diploma and relevant work experience, many employers prefer applicants who are certified pharmacy technicians as indicated by a March 2011 job search on CareerBuilder.com. Aspiring chemotherapy technicians can obtain this certification by taking the pharmacy technician certification exam (PTCE). The PTCE is a multiple-choice exam that covers pharmacist assistance, inventory control and administrative practices. Certified pharmacy technicians must recertify every two years and meet continuing education requirements (www.ptcb.org).

Chemotherapy technician certification is also available for certified pharmacy technicians through the National Pharmacy Technician association. The certification process includes self-study requirements and focuses on the safe handling of hazardous drugs. Additionally, chemotherapy technicians should have knowledge of medical terminology and a strong background in basic mathematics.

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