Care + Career

      Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

      The Surprising Skill Employers Look for in Pharmacy Technicians

      Pharmacy technicians must possess hard knowledge and skills, which can be proven through certification. But as professionals who spend a lot of time working with patients and pharmacists, soft skills are also essential in this role. In our recent survey of employers in the 2020 Industry Outlook, the soft skill that's most important for pharmacy technicians isn't communication or professionalism—which also scored highly—but critical thinking. Surprisingly, it's also the most lacking.
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      Keep reading to learn more about this essential soft skill, why it's important for pharmacy technicians, and how you can improve in this area for career growth.

      What is critical thinking?

      Critical thinking is a process of analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating information to inform actions. A critical thinker:

      • Is able to process information and interpret it to make informed decisions
      • Is good at solving problems
      • Looks at things objectively—without biases or opinions
      • Is rational and uses good judgment 

      As a strong critical thinker, you're able to make connections between ideas and concepts. You are self-guided, and make good decisions without needing someone to constantly monitor you. If you exhibit strong critical thinking skills, you're likely perceived as smart, precise, and fair.

      When is critical thinking needed in the role of the pharmacy technician?

      As a pharmacy technician, you are flooded with information every day. The average pharmacy fills 500 prescriptions per week!
      Pharmacy technicians need to be expert problem solvers. When pharmacy technicians are taking medication histories and doing reconciliation work, critical thinking skills are vital to performing the investigation and interpreting the information received. If there are insurance issues, critical thinking is essential in helping pharmacy technicians navigate complex systems to find solutions. And when a patient is managing several medications on a fixed budget, a pharmacy technician needs strong critical thinking skills to help them prioritize and find discounts so they can achieve the best outcome possible.
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      Why is critical thinking so important?

      In the examples provided above, it's easy to see why critical thinking skills are so important to the pharmacy technician profession. Critical thinking is necessary in almost every facet of the pharmacy technician role, and a strong critical thinker is a valuable member of the pharmacy team. Not only will fellow pharmacy technicians and pharmacists appreciate a skilled critical thinker on the team, but patients will also have better and more seamless experiences.
      34% of Americans said they had an "excellent" experience at a pharmacy they visited in the last month, according to a Gallup poll.

      Can critical thinking be learned?

      It's a common misconception that soft skills like critical thinking are fixed, and cannot be learned. However, they can absolutely be developed.
      According to the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, there are a few challenges to overcome, and they're mostly in your mind! You need to keep an open mind, work to eliminate biases, and be open to learning this skill. One of the biggest challenges to learning critical thinking is that people often believe they already know how to solve problems, so they don't believe they need to be re-taught this essential soft skill.
      One of the best ways to sharpen your critical thinking skills is through continuing education. By challenging yourself to expand your knowledge and take on more responsibility for your own learning, you're practicing critical thinking!
      At NHA, we are passionate about helping you thrive in your career, which is why we created OnScript with NHA, a podcast hosted Jeremy Sasser, Content Strategist at NHA and Jessica Langley-Loep, executive director for education and advocacy at NHA. The podcast is part of the Pharmacy Podcast Network (PPN), and each episode shares key insights, stories, and information to help support pharmacy technicians in their career.

      OnScript with NHA is available at, and wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode!


      Topics: cpht, soft skills