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Health Science | National Healthcareer Association (NHA) | Pharmacy Technician

How to Create a NHA CPhT Certified Pharmacy Technician Curriculum

November 3rd, 2021 | 5 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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Throughout the United States, certified pharmacy technicians (CPhT) have become one of the most in-demand career choices for students in the CTE health science pathway. As a health science educator, you may have noticed more interested students and are considering adding pharm tech to your program.

Your institution may already be preparing students for certifications provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) and is considering NHA’s Certified Pharmacy Technician (NHA CPhT) certification.

However, you might be uncertain about creating a pharmacy technician curriculum that helps students earn the NHA CPhT.

In this article, you’ll find step-by-step instructions to help you create a successful NHA CPhT pharmacy technician program:

  1. Find Your State Standards
  2. Address Your School’s Standards
  3. Include NHA-Pertinent Information
  4. Incorporate Blended Learning

After reading, you should be more confident in creating a pharm tech program where your students can succeed.

Step 1. Find Your State Standards

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No matter where you teach, it’s critical that your curriculum adheres to your state standards. Teaching to state standards is crucial because they are the educational benchmarks that ensure your students have all the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as pharmacy technicians.

State standards can vary in detail: some include every bit of information a class should cover. In contrast, others supply fewer details and allow for more flexibility when working with different resources.

You can find your standards by asking your administrator, CTE director, or immediate supervisor. If your administrator can’t find your standards right away, consider asking other health science teachers in your area, or consult your state’s department of education.

Regardless of how you find them, your state standards will be the cornerstone of building your pharm tech curriculum.

Step 2. Address Your School's Standards

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Although state standards will be uniform for your entire state, individual school standards for health science classes can vary widely from one another. State standards account for overarching needs, while school standards can include additional criteria relevant to an individual community.

For this reason, your school could have stricter standards for pharmacy technician classes than your state.

In addition, your school might also participate in additional programs that involve standards different from others in your region, so make sure you are following any additional requirements specific to your institution.

Step 3. Include NHA-Pertinent Information

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The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is one of the most trusted health science certification providers in the United States. For this reason, educators in many CTE health science programs choose to prepare their students for various NHA assessments, including the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) certification.

Because the end goal for students is to become certified through the NHA CPhT, many health science instructors feel conflicted: Should I teach the subject, or do I teach to the certification test?

Ideally, if you teach your subject well and meet your standards, your students will be ready for the NHA CPhT. However, since standards vary between states and each educator teaches differently, it’s essential to make sure your instruction covers all parts of the certification.

Many teachers choose to incorporate NHA-specific material in one of two ways.

Option 1. Using NHA Information to Supplement Your Current Curriculum

Some teachers use information specific to the NHA certification as a supplement to the curriculum they already teach.

For example, when discussing a typical day as a pharmacy technician, an instructor could add additional information about properly filling prescriptions. Since the teacher is already talking about the subject, it’s easy to add more details on adequately packing and labeling pharmaceuticals. These additional details directly cover information on the NHA CPhT test.

This solution works well for most health science teachers who can seamlessly integrate NHA-specific information into their everyday instruction.

Option 2. "Back-Loading" NHA Information to the End of the Course

On the other hand, some teachers choose to “back-load” all of the information particular to the NHA CPhT certification to the final weeks of their class, right before students sit for their exams.

For example, these instructors teach students about working as a pharmacy technician for the first seven weeks in a nine-week class. Then, they directly teach detailed requirements for the NHA CPhT exam during the final two weeks of the course.

Teachers have seen success with this approach because it gives students a review period just before they take their certification tests. This way, students will have the most essential information fresh in their minds when they sit for the CPhT certification.

Step 4. Incorporate Blended Learning with Digital Curriculum

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A final step in preparing your students for their pharmacy technician certifications is adopting learning strategies to help students master critical material.

One way to help your students learn crucial pharmacy technician skills is to implement blended learning through a digital curriculum.

Digital curriculum offers a comprehensive suite of classroom resources to help your students succeed through a blend of traditional classroom teaching and discussion and engaging digital learning components.

With a digital curriculum, you have additional opportunities to ensure learners connect with course material and are prepared to take their assessments. Plus, a digital curriculum saves you time with rudimentary tasks like planning and grading. You’ll be more able to focus on providing your students with one-on-one instruction that will help reinforce content they may be struggling with.

Ultimately, adding a digital curriculum to your pharm tech program could be the extra step students need to fully prepare for certification and enter the workforce.

Prepare Your Students for the NHA CPhT Certification


Given the high demand for pharmacy technicians, chances are that you have many students interested in earning their CPhT certification. And you want to make sure the curriculum you teach in your pharm tech program prepares students well so they can be certified and have successful careers.

The tips and insights in this article can help you better equip your students to pass the NHA CPhT certification exam.

However, you may want to do even more to ensure your students achieve their goals. For this reason, we put together a free CPhT Certification Success Guide to help teachers like you!

When you download this free guide, you’ll find the information you’ll need to check if your students are ready to be certified. The Success Guide includes an overview of NHA CPhT eligibility requirements, an outline of exam topics, and additional resources to help you prepare your students for test day.

Download your CPhT Certification Success Guide today:

Download the National Health Science Assessment Guide