APhA Developing Training Program for Pharmacists at COVID-19 Testing Sites

Michael Klepser, PharmD, FCCP, FIDP is not only a part of this group, but was also a potential carrier of the virus himself.

A steering group for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is in the process of creating a nasopharyngeal swab training program for pharmacists to continue their efforts in combatting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Michael Klepser, PharmD, FCCP, FIDP is not only a part of this group, but was also a potential carrier of the virus himself.

After attending the Great Lakes Infectious Disease Conference on March 7 at Ferris State University’s College of Pharmacy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it was discovered that a Kent county resident who attended the conference had tested positive for the virus. Following advice to self-isolate and self-monitor until March 21, Klepser continued to work on the training program while self-quarantined with his family.1

“I have been on the COVID-19 project for about 3 weeks now,” Klepser said in an interview with Pharmacy Times®. “I was approached by Rite Aid, APhA, NACDS, and MPA to help train pharmacists to assist with specimen collection for COVID-19, as nasopharyngeal swabs were originally the technique required for the tests.”

Additionally, Klepser has been training pharmacists to do various types of specimen collection for approximately 12 years and assisting in determining how to let pharmacists test for flu or strep throat right at a local pharmacy.1

As of March 31, APhA has released a “COVID-19 Specimen Collection Training” guideline, leading pharmacists through the proper collection of nasopharyngeal swabs. This program will be adaptable to other tested methods once they are more widely available, including nasal swabs, oral swabs, and fingerstick tests.2

As for the impact of this test on the pandemic in the United States, Klepser said it will not take full effect for some time.

“However, this thrusts pharmacists into the discussion regarding testing patients in pandemics. Hopefully, this will prompt people to think ahead and not wait until the next pandemic occurs,” Klepser said in an interview with Pharmacy Times®.

The future of these tests looks promising, as Klepser explained that pharmacists are already testing and treating influenza and acute streptococcal pharyngitis. In states where these tests are permissible, he sees that this kind of testing will expand largely. “We will likely see CLIA-waived tests for COVID-19 that pharmacists will use starting this fall,” Klepser said in an interview with Pharmacy Times®.

More recently, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health issued new guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests.


  • Seidel, Jeff. Michigan pharmacist had to break tough news to wife as coronavirus fears spread. Detroit Free Press. https://www.freep.com/story/sports/columnists/jeff-seidel/2020/03/18/kalamazoo-coronavirus-ferris-state-michael-klepser/2863688001/. Published March 18, 2020. Accessed April 8, 2020.
  • Antrim, Aislinn. American Pharmacists Association Launches COVID-19 Training Series, Resources. Pharmacy Times. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/american-pharmacists-association-launches-covid-19-training-series-resources. Published April 7, 2020. Accessed April 8, 2020.

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