Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.
Given the upcoming changes in the pharmacy tech world, here are the Internet’s best pharmacy technician hacks, some of which are common sense, though others take more ingenuity. These 20 tricks can help techs save time, and potentially, sanity:
1. Use a pair of hobby tweezers with the bent ends to get desiccant out of bottles.
2. Write the number of pills remaining on the side of large-count bottles. And get all your co-workers to do the same. This only works if everyone does it.
3. To do a faster double-count, don’t immediately scoop the pills into the pill counter. Instead, move them 5 at a time to the edge of the platform away from the other pills for your first count. Then, scoop them 5 at a time into the lower part for your second count.
4. Hospital techs: Give new interns and residents your personal cell phone number. Tell them to text you instead of paging you. It’s much easier to respond to a text message than to go through the hassle of returning a page.
5. Use a zip tie to keep rolls of auxiliary labels from unraveling.
6. If your state has several different Medicaid plans, take a copy of a card from each patient and keep it—after removing protected health information (PHI), of course. That way, if a Medicaid patient forgets his or her card, you only need to find out the plan name and the identification number in order to run the script.
7. Stick labels on the back of your hand before sticking them onto boxes. They will be much easier to peel off if you need to return the medication to stock.
8. Fold a corner of the label on itself before sticking it to a box. Again, this will make it much easier to peel off, if necessary.
9. When figuring out 28 days for multi-dose vial expiration, just subtract 2 or 3 from today's date. Whether you subtract 2 or 3 depends on how many days there are in the month.
10. When returning an item to stock, place label tape over the label and use your fingernail to scrub over the areas containing PHI. When you rip off the tape, the PHI will be removed.
11. At the beginning of your shift, go through the queue and print out all of the easy-to-fill prescriptions (birth control, inhalers, and drugs that come in stock bottles). Tackle these first.
12. Go through the queue and find patients who are getting the same medication refilled. Do the refills 1 after the other to save time.
13. Batch print when you are filling prescriptions. This keeps you from having to wait on the printer.
14. Use the green auxiliary label on the stock bottle when you get a new generic. This will remind the filler tech to also use a green sticker on the patient’s bottle.
15. Print out orders for patients who are filling multiple prescriptions first thing in the morning. Fill them first to get them out of the way.
16. When patients call in for refills, tell them it will take at least an hour. Don’t make them waiters.
17. Use bag and vial spikes when making IVs.
18. When making daptomycin (Cubicin), point the needle at the wall of the vial when you reconstitute it.
19. Use double-ended needles to make drips that dissolve easily.
20. Use a lighter (at your own risk!) to blackout PHI on Return to Stock labels.
Hopefully, these hacks will help make things in the pharmacy a little easier. If I’ve missed anything, please let me know by contacting me on Twitter @pharmschoolhq.