Tony Guerra, PharmD
Tony Guerra, PharmD
Tony Guerra, PharmD, is chair, instructor, and pre-pharmacy advisor at Des Moines Area Community College's Pharmacy Technician program and Pharmacy Podcast Network Co-Host. He's Tony_PharmD on Twitter and TonyPharmD on YouTube providing Top 200 drugs and pronunciation help to over 4,500 followers with over 1 million views. His two audiobooks Memorizing Pharmacology: A Relaxed Approach and How to Pronounce Drug Names: A Visual Approach to Preventing Medication Errors are Amazon bestsellers. He graduated from Iowa State University with a BA in English and the University of Maryland with his PharmD.

How One Pharmacy School Supports Technician Training

AUGUST 24, 2016
Few pharmacy schools offer technician training, but one unique program is helping licensed techs enter advanced-practice roles.

The academic literature supports that as pharmacists’ roles expand, so too must the roles of pharmacy technicians. Although ASHP/ACPE accreditation works to standardize training nationally, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s innovative PharmTechX Program helps active technicians already in practice. The program has strong partnerships between with local health systems, including the University of Maryland Medical System, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and MedStar Health.

The original call for the program came from the health systems, which asked for additional education for their practicing technicians. The idea was a hybrid of the Advancing the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative.
 
Because the health systems’ pharmacies were allowing technicians to take on more responsibility, it fell on them to do the training. This training was expensive, and the health systems knew they weren’t using technicians to their maximal abilities.

Talks for developing the program began around 2012, and the online program launched in 2014. The pharmacy school built the online modules with practicing pharmacy faculty who teach the students.

Three certificate programs are available:
1. Leadership and Patient Care (required for all participants)
2. Excellence in Health-System Pharmacy
3. Community Pharmacy Practice and Management

Each certificate is comprised of several modules incorporated with active learning activities to help teach skills to participants. Each online module has its own assessment, so instructors can provide feedback to students.
 
Students videotape their staged interactions, like taking medication histories, with support from the school and health systems. For example, if they needed to upload a video demonstrating their competency in gowning and gloving, they’d have a package of gowning materials sent to them.

The program has rolling admissions, so as soon as technicians complete the entry process and payment, they can get access to the materials. Students have 2 years to complete the work at their own pace.
 
The PharmTechX program isn’t a primary pharmacy technician school for students to gain initial tech certification. Rather, it’s for experienced technicians who want to climb the career ladder.
 
Many employers struggle with technician turnover, and this is a way to help them retain technicians with additional skills that meet evolving roles. Ultimately, it’s about giving technicians an opportunity to improve their skills and take on greater responsibilities.


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