Originally published in the September 2010 NABP Newsletter
The Texas State Board of Pharmacy approved the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) as the single provider of certification examinations for pharmacy technicians in the state as of May 14, 2010. The approval of PTCB’s exam followed a thorough evaluation process, which began in 2008, and also included an evaluation of and comparison with the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ExCPT), administered by the Institute for the Certification of Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).
Texas Board Evaluates Technician Exams
Since 1995, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy has required all pharmacy technicians to pass the PTCB examination, and Texas was the first state to adopt such a rule. In 2001, legislation was approved placing the exam requirement into the Texas Pharmacy Act. Specifically, the language requires pharmacy technicians to pass a Board-approved examination or certification to qualify for registration. Board of Pharmacy rules were implemented that require pharmacy technicians to pass the PTCB exam, or other Board-approved exam as a prerequisite for registration.
As the law authorizes the Board to utilize other examinations, the Texas Board decided to issue a request for qualifications and conduct a thorough review of the available national technician certification exams. In 2008, the Texas Board appointed a committee charged with analyzing both the PTCB and ExCPT exams. As part of this evaluation process, three independent psychometricians were retained to conduct blind evaluations of proposals presenting both exams. The exams were evaluated against a comprehensive rubric that measured their design, development, implementation, and defensibility across numerous specific criteria. For example, areas evaluated included the development and use of the practice/job analysis survey and the exam blueprint in designing the exam; the process of developing, scoring, and ensuring the security of the exam items; and the scoring, fairness, and score reporting of the exams.
The three psychometricians scored the two exams on each of the items in the aforementioned rubric. The committee reviewed the work of the psychometricians and determined that the PTCB exam received the highest score. After their review, the committee recommended that the Board use the PTCB exam for certification of pharmacy technicians. Based on the report of its committee, including the independent psychometric reviews, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy unanimously approved continuing with PTCB as the single certification exam for the state.
State Technician Exam Requirements
Of the 42 state boards of pharmacy that license, register, and/or certify technicians, 18 require that candidates pass a pharmacy technician examination. In addition to Texas, four other state boards of pharmacy – Arizona, Illinois, South Carolina, and West Virginia – state specifically that the PTCB exam meets requirements for licensing or registration. Eight state boards accept either the PTCB or the ExCPT exams. Three additional state boards of pharmacy require that technician candidates pass an exam and offer several exam options. Finally, in two states, PTCB certification is not required, but authorizes pharmacy technicians to perform additional duties, and in one other state, the board recognizes, but does not require, both PTCB and ICPT certifications.
NABP Actions and Recommendations
NABP encourages boards to require that by 2015 all technicians are certified, and the Association supports the adoption of the PTCB exam by state boards of pharmacy. As revised by the Executive Committee, a recommendation from the 2008-2009 Task Force on Standardized Pharmacy Technician Education and Training states that NABP will encourage states that certify technicians to recognize certification by PTCB. This recommendation was based on the fact that the PTCB Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination was reviewed by NABP after member boards adopted Resolution 96-1-2000, at the 96th Annual Meeting in 2000, which called on NABP to “review the existing programs” and, if one did not exist or did not meet certain criteria, “develop a national competence assessment program to assess the competencies necessary for technicians to safely assist in the practice of pharmacy as technicians.” Upon review, the task force found that PTCB certification met the recommended criteria for national competency assessment program. In addition, the 2008-2009 task force advised that the NABP Model Act be amended to recommend that states require certified pharmacy technicians to successfully pass “an examination developed using nationally recognized and validated psychometric and pharmacy practice standards approved by the Board of Pharmacy.”
NABP has also taken several other actions that examine the education, training, and certification requirements for pharmacy technicians. The NABP Task Force on Pharmacy Technician Education and Training Programs met October 6-7, 2009, and accepted the charge of reviewing the existing state requirements for technician education and training; reviewing requirements for national technician training program accrediting organizations, such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education Core Competencies; and recommending national standards for technician education and training programs and encouraging boards of pharmacy to recognize them. Further, NABP member boards passed Resolution No. 106-7-10, “Continued Efforts to Standardize Pharmacy Technician Education and Training Programs,” at the 106th Annual Meeting held on May 22-25, 2010, which states that NABP should continue to encourage states to adopt uniform standards for pharmacy technician education and training programs.
NABP will continue to monitor these issues to support the state boards of pharmacy as they work to ensure that regulations pertaining to pharmacy technician education, training, registration, and scope of practice are developed, updated, and implemented.