Increased Responsibilities for Pharmacy Technicians Helps Role of Pharmacist

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Ryan Burke, PharmD, director of professional affairs at Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, discusses how the changing role of pharmacy technicians has also helped the role of the pharmacist.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times®, Ryan Burke, PharmD, director of professional affairs at Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, discusses a session at the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians Annual Convention 2022 and how the changing role of pharmacy technicians has also helped the role of the pharmacist.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the role of the pharmacy technician long term?

Ryan Burke: I think for one thing, it has reinforced something that we've known for a really long time, which is that pharmacy technicians are critical to the successful and efficient operation of a pharmacy, right? Related to COVID at least, testing and immunizations remain really a core part of what people in community pharmacy are doing every day, and it doesn't seem like that is going to go away anytime soon.

The other thing that is interesting about immunization administration, in particular, is that we use a tool to track job postings for pharmacy technicians throughout the country. Immunization administration is actually now showing up as 1 of the top 5 requested skills from employers. I think that demonstrates that employers kind of anticipate this being a long term thing, where pharmacy technicians are very much engaged in helping to vaccinate the community.

Q: How has the increased responsibilities for pharmacy technicians made the job of pharmacists easier?

Ryan Burke: it's important to acknowledge that there are increasing demands on everybody who works in a pharmacy whether it's technician, pharmacist, cashier, clerk, you name it. It's really important as we think about the current environment, increased demands, we hear from employers that hiring is particularly difficult right now, there are lots of open positions for pharmacy technicians, and flu season, which is usually one of the busiest times and community pharmacy is not that far away. It's really important that everybody on the team, whether it be pharmacist or technician, work together.

I think one of the ways that we've heard from pharmacists that having technicians, who are engaged in immunizations is really helpful, is that if they haven't trained pharmacy technician who can step out of the core pharmacy workflow to go administer a vaccine, that really helps the pharmacist stay focused on somebody waiting on the phone, to talk to them, somebody's waiting at the window to be counseled, the pile of prescriptions that need to be checked by the pharmacist. I think it's important to recognize that there are still a lot of demands. I'm not sure that anyone's job is necessarily easier right now. If everybody works together, and we have those really well trained pharmacy technicians, that's how we can get through this this pretty challenging time in pharmacy.