Technicians provide essential support to the pharmaceutical profession, but they also need support
As pharmacy technicians continue to take on more and more responsibility, steps must be taken to alleviate the burnout that so many people face.
Exhausted workers. Unsung heroes. Both phrases have been used simultaneously to describe pharmacy technicians throughout the pandemic. As the demand for health care services continues to grow, the role of the pharmacy technician continues to evolve.
We have seen new responsibilities added to the job, ranging from point-of-care testing to administering vaccines. As techs will likely take on even more responsibilities, what can be done to alleviate the burnout that so many people face?
The short answer: defend pharmacy technicians.
Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical profession have an obligation to intervene on behalf of technicians, who are often the backbone of the smooth running of pharmaceutical operations. If technicians have the resources to do their job well, they will be able to support the pharmacy team as a whole to operate more efficiently. And, most importantly, they can ensure that the patient experience is one that prioritizes safety above all else.
Colleagues on the pharmacy team see first-hand the contributions of technicians, and pharmacists are well aware of their value, as technicians have a direct impact on the ability of pharmacists to do their jobs well. An easy way for pharmacists to defend their technicians is to show general appreciation for their work.
Taking the time to actively listen to technicians’ concerns, finding opportunities to solicit feedback, and giving credit where it’s due can go a long way. Going a step further, pharmacists can help identify technicians who take on leadership roles and push for the development of team structures that allow these technician leaders to be formally recognized with corresponding positions and titles. .
Healthcare employers, especially those in the pharmaceutical profession, also play a vital role in defending technicians. While business priorities influence many decisions made at higher levels, ensuring patient safety while balancing outcomes is critical.
As the pandemic has shown how essential healthcare workers, like pharmacy technicians, are to the fabric of our society, employers can recognize this in concrete ways. At a minimum, they can ensure that technicians – and all of their workers – operate under reasonable working conditions.
Measures such as those recently taken by major national groups like CVS and Walgreens to give pharmacy teams uninterrupted lunch breaks are important steps to recognize the intense demand they face and provide some relief to ensure that when teams are on duty, they are not so stressed. that they cannot concentrate on the work at hand.
Employers would also benefit from working directly with pharmacy teams to institute best practices that help maintain high standards of patient safety. Opportunities must be created for technicians to have more visibility and more input into conversations about decisions that directly affect them.
Employers can create and support safe environments where technicians are encouraged to engage in dialogue with their supervisors and management by providing honest feedback. Employers should also welcome suggestions on how technicians think improvements can be made.
All of this information can be incorporated into concrete actions that can improve not only work environments, but also the customer experience and, ultimately, pharmacy workflows and efficiency. And sometimes techs can be their own best advocates.
If there are any constructive comments or recommendations that technicians have about how their working conditions can be improved, they should speak up when those opportunities arise. Go beyond identifying problems and take the initiative to come up with solutions that could be implemented to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
Understand that each workplace may have different procedures for feedback, in one-on-one conversations with direct supervisors, share specific examples of personal experiences. Look for opportunities to share views with a wider audience of stakeholders.
For example, technicians can participate in meetings of the state board of pharmacy, which are open to the public. They can even get involved by becoming members of some state and national pharmacy associations. The voices of technicians are among the industry’s most valuable resources for informing the profession of areas they can and should improve.
The healthcare industry already faces an ongoing shortage of qualified, trained and certified technicians. Technicians who are dedicated to their careers, for example, those who have obtained CPhT-AdvTM certification from PTCB to showcase their advanced expertise, are incredibly valuable employees who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to advancing patient and patient safety. medications.
The pandemic has shed light on what the pharmaceutical profession already knew about the important roles that healthcare technicians play. As these responsibilities expand and evolve, the amount of support they provide to the pharmacy profession will only increase. It is imperative that technicians receive in return the support they need from a community defending their interests.
About the Author
William Schimmel is Executive Director and CEO of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).