'Just' a Tech? Or a J.U.S.T. Tech?

MARCH 19, 2018
I love to follow pharmacy pages on social media, and love nothing more than a good debate about a situation. One thing I have noticed more and more frequently, is that when a technician gives an opinion, many times, they will say, “I’m just a tech, but I think…”

JUST a tech?! JUST the person that gets pharmacists through their day?

JUST the person responsible for data entry and helping to resolve complex insurance issues?    

JUST the person responsible for assembling dozens of prescriptions accurately every hour, nonstop?

JUST the person with the awesome customer service, ringing up long lines of patients all day long?

JUST the person who runs around all day, often skipping a break, taking care of just about anything and everything?

JUST the person that somehow picks up all the phones when 3 phone lines are ringing?

JUST the person that is simultaneously calming down an angry patient, while running back and forth to the drive-through window, and on hold with an insurance company, while also trying to fix the printer for the fifth time that week?

Techs—You are not JUST a tech!  

I am sure that all pharmacists would agree that without techs, we would never be able to operate a pharmacy. Techs are often the first and last face the patient sees when dropping off and picking up a prescription.

Take for example, one of my all-star favorite technicians, Marta. I’m sure most pharmacies have a Marta.

You know who I mean—the tech that knows everything that is going on, and knows every patient, and can fix every situation. The tech that all the patients know and ask for. The tech that attends patients' funerals because that is the type of person she is. The tech that, if she is out sick, your pharmacy will just not operate like it normally does.

I hired Marta around 2004. She quickly became the lead technician. If Marta was not there, it just wasn’t the same. She basically ran the place!

Later on, after having children, I was floating part-time. You better believe that when I floated to that store, I hoped Marta would be working with me. A tech like Marta is that security blanket for pharmacists. At each store, there was a 'Marta' or even several Martas that I hoped would be there when I floated.

Marta is just 1 example of the many talented and intelligent techs I have worked with over the years, but techs are worth their weight in gold.

So I ask you, are you JUST a tech, or a J.U.S.T. tech? What is a J.U.S.T. tech? I JUST made it up. It stands for Juggling Unlimited Stressful Tasks.

Are you JUST a tech, or are you a J.U.S.T. tech? I’m quite confident that almost all techs out there are juggling unlimited stressful tasks, and doing so flawlessly, making the pharmacy run as smoothly as possible. In addition to data entry, production, and register duties, there are also a lot of tasks that come with inventory management—ordering and putting away medications on a daily and a weekly basis, scanning out-of-stock medications, checking for and returning expired medications, the list is never ending and always being added to!

Pharmacists, be sure to appreciate your techs. It is all too easy during a busy or stressful day to forget to give praise or say a simple 'thank you.' I have heard many times that most employees leave their supervisor, not their job, so be sure to value your techs if you want to keep them (as well as your sanity).

Your tech resolves a difficult insurance issue? Why not say, 'Thank you! Awesome job!' A little praise goes a long way. (And always remember to praise in public, criticize in private.)

Your tech stays 15 minutes late to clear out the production queue? 'Thank you! You are amazing!'

Stopping for coffee on the way to work? Bring coffee and donuts for your whole crew.

Feel like ordering lunch? Why not occasionally order a pizza for the hardworking staff?

I remember one pharmacist who always talked about keeping a 'junk drawer' full of candy for the techs. I’m sure they really appreciate it, especially on those days when they don’t have time to stop to eat, drink, or use the restroom.

Techs are so critical to the pharmacy profession—they must constantly know how important they are, and we should always take care to remind them how valuable they are to us and to the profession. Pharmacists, next time you hear a tech refer to themselves as JUST a tech, remind them that they are a J.U.S.T. tech! And techs, please always remember how important and valuable you are!

Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD
Karen Berger, PharmD, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2001. She has worked in community pharmacies for over 16 years as a Pharmacist in Charge, staff, and floater pharmacist for a large chain. Currently, she is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in Northern NJ. She can be reached at karenmichelleberger@gmail.com
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