Make the Most of the Conference Experience
As more pharmacy technicians join their rolls, organizations gear meeting content toward these key professionals.
WITH THE PHARMACY TECHNICIAN PRACTICE EXPANDING and career paths becoming better defined, it is increasingly important that techs attend local and national conferences.
Many organizations in recent years have rapidly increased their tech membership and developed more relevant content, leading to a variety of conferences with topics specific to techs’ new, advanced roles, from sterile compounding to 340B.
Tech representation at conferences includes attending, being involved in meeting preparation, and presenting materials to peers. Conferences allow techs to network and gain knowledge that otherwise might be lacking in their professional lives. The meetings offer an outlet for techs to share best practices and formal studies with their peers through presentations, panels, posters, and roundtables.
Prior to attending a professional conference, techs should take steps to be prepared. Bring a computer or other device to follow along with the presentation, as well as a notebook and pen to jot down key points and ideas. Pass out business cards during networking opportunities. Dress for success in business casual, and check the conference schedule to see if any events have a dress code.
The most accessible conferences are often those that are locally run, especially those hosted by a state affiliate of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) in spring and fall. State meetings are much more economical to attend because of the relatively low travel expenses and registration costs compared with national conferences. Most states offer a technician educational track with great opportunities to network with local peers. State conferences can be a great way for techs to present to or view the work of peers and share tips and success stories.
The National Home Infusion Association’s annual conference also is great for techs. This event focuses on its core attendees’ practice setting but also offers educational programing for those in other settings, such as clinical compounding, law, reimbursement, and sterile compounding. A sterile compounding lab includes classroom and lab-based programming and is hosted by experts in the field, including individuals from United States Pharmacopeia expert committees.
Each summer, the Pharmacy Technician Educators Council holds a conference that offers the best programing for tech educators and training program developers. The National Pharmacy Purchasing Association annual conference in August offers an exhibitor hall and presentations focused on purchasing, as well as programing focused on 340B programs.
For most individuals who work in pharmacy, the best conference is ASHP’s Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition, held every December in a different city. The conference features stellar educational opportunities and the ability to network with peers from around the country in all roles and specialties. Techs can also meet with companies in the exhibitor hall to find out what is on the market and on the horizon. The conference is very large, but ASHP offers an application for planning and provides great on-site support throughout the multiday event.
A smaller conference, the ASHP Summer Meetings and Exhibition, is annually held in June; however, the 2020 event was canceled this year, due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. ASHP Summer consists of concurrent content-targeted meetings, and attendees have access to all events and sessions.
Both the midyear and summer meetings have great tech-specific continuing education (CE) and networking opportunities.
Many other conferences available to techs are held around the year throughout the country and offer member discounts or scholarships to attendees. Some employers cover conference attendance; when seeking reimbursement, be prepared to explain why attendance would bring value to the organization, including the ability to return with knowledge that can be shared. Every tech should plan to attend an event at least once a year to reap a wealth of benefits and knowledge, including valuable CE. Local organizations or a quick Google search can produce leads on nearby events, so techs should get out there and start expanding their knowledge, polish their skills, and broaden their networks through conference attendance.
Glen J. Gard, CPhT, CSPT, is the manager of pharmacy compliance at Option Health Care in Bannockburn, Illinois.