Schools Training

Drugs, Medicines and Medical Support Roles

23 JAN 2013
Career Path : Healthcare

It’s no secret that medical careers are not exempt from paperwork, even in support roles. One of the most crucial is un-coding a doctor’s prescription. Pharmacy technician courses and medical office assistant training both need you to understand not only the stereotypically cryptic handwriting that seems to accompany a medical degree, but also what the drug name means and dosage level.


For the pharmacy technician courses graduate, they need to understand because they will be filling and distributing the requested prescription, albeit under the supervision of a pharmacist. However even a medical office assistant will be handing the scrip over and will often have to answer questions or convey advice related to particular drugs and medicines, or how to take them.


Dose Level

Drugs generally don’t come in pounds or even grams.  While many drugs are pre-measured in little stamped plastic and foil pill packets, and over the counter medications have relatively straight forward dose instructions, many prescriptions require precise measurements in milligrams and micrograms. It is the small scale of measuring things that matters in this case. Pharmacy technician training will make sure you can use are the tools in the mixing area of a pharmacy, but even if you’re just taking medical office assistant training it’s a good idea to review different units of measure.



Antibiotics must be taken at their full level to make them the most effective and avoid developing bacterial immunities. Other drugs have to be taken on strict, by the minute schedule, or administered as needed when the first symptoms of a condition appear. But others will require you to give the patient rules of thumb, for example to take before sleep because they tend to cause drowsiness or after eating to avoid stomach problems.  Some drugs may even interact with certain foods or other medications. Of course pharmacy technician courses takes much of this into account, but the report people develop with the friendly front desk worker in a medical practice or clinic gives people with medical office assistant training a chance to make sure the patient knows the best way to use what they’ve been assigned.


Brand Name Versus Generic

Drugs are usually developed by private companies, accepting remedies that are so old that they are past copyright. However health is seen as a right by many governments, who do not want patents to create unaffordable price points on lifesaving treatments. As such they mandate that there’s a brand name and an identical generic version. Much like the budget brand for certain groceries, but with much more reliability in quality, generics are identical in therapeutic effect. Often insurance takes advantage of this and only covers the generic option unless specifically ordered by a doctor. In this case pharmacy technician training means explaining the absence of differences to the patient and it’s much the same for a medical office assistant.



Visit Algonquin Careers Academy for more information on administering drugs and pharmacy technician courses.