Pharmacy technicians play an important role within healthcare systems and are essential pharmacy department staff. Here, learn about 5 things the best pharmacy technicians do.
Authored By: Timothy Gauthier, Pharm.D., BCPS-AQ ID
Over the years I have worked along side many pharmacy technicians and I could not be more grateful for the impact they have had on my career. It was the pharmacy technicians who taught me how to fill prescriptions in community pharmacies, fix Omnicell® and Pyxis® machines in the hospital, manage the workflow of an operating room pharmacy, and prepare sterile products for intravenous and intrathecal administration.
During pharmacy school I certainly got to know the pharmacists I worked with, but it was the pharmacy technicians that had the greatest impact on me. Working together to accomplish our tasks for the day, the pharmacy technicians served as my role models and mentors. Each time I stepped into work at the pharmacy I aspired to be as efficient and accurate as they were.
Of course with everything in life there is a spectrum on which people fall that goes from worst to best. I do not like to think any of the pharmacy technicians I worked with would fall towards the “worst” end of the spectrum, however I do feel a few of the technicians I worked with could be considered total “rock star” techs and complete masters of their craft.
Taking from lessons learned working along side what one may call “rock star” pharmacy technicians, I have composed the following list. I hope that others will find this information useful as we all strive to be the best we can be.
1. They are always thinking about patients.
It was a pharmacy technician that told me to “do this task as if it was your family member who is the patient.” The same tech used to remind me that if deliveries were late, the nurse would not be able to do his/her jobs and that meant the patient could suffer for it. The best pharmacy technicians always recognize that we in the pharmacy need to provide the best service possible so that the patient can be given the best care possible. Even if it is something as simple as pushing a break back by 5 minutes to complete a new order that just came in or walking a little faster to deliver a pain medication for a patient, pharmacy technicians are able to go above and beyond to impact patients in a positive way.
2. They make an effort to help the people working the next shift or the next day
If there is only enough of a medication or product to do the job during their shift, the best pharmacy techs will start trouble shooting the problem for the next shift or next day, rather than leaving it for someone else to have to deal with. In addition, the best pharmacy technicians anticipate the needs of the next few days and make efforts to reduce redundant tasks.
3. They go above and beyond to reduce wastage
With very little effort, pharmacy technicians can improve inventory management and reduce wastage. With a concerted effort, a pharmacy technician can have a substantial impact on wastage. One pharmacy technician that I worked in sterile products with was particularly skilled at reducing wastage and maximizing recycling of unused products that remained still suitable for use. Not only did this person return unused products to the pharmacy every single time she could, she also labeled everything immaculately so that it was clear if a product could be reused. This pharmacy technician took pride in her ability do her job efficiently and the people she worked with respected her for being a model employee.
4. They are not afraid of change, welcome new challenges and stay focused
With many tasks on the to-do list for the day and each day being different, the same approach day after day will not produce the same results. The best pharmacy technicians identify this and modify their plan for the day to increase their efficiency. In addition, they stay focused on the tasks at hand and are cognizant not to become overly distracted by social happenings.
5. They teach others
It is essential that future pharmacy technicians and future pharmacists have role models and mentors that bestow upon them the knowledge needed to effectively manage a pharmacy. The best pharmacy technicians do not watch others struggle, but take the time to instruct them on things. In addition, the best pharmacy technicians not only serve as trainers, but also take steps to enhance their ability to train others.
This post is dedicated to the amazingly talented pharmacy technicians at Walmart Pharmacy and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Department of Pharmacy who have taught me so much.
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