Pharmacy Tech Talk: Technician Discusses Pharmacy Drug Shortages


Hannah Nivens, CPhT, a pharmacy distribution specialist at Novant Health Pharmacy Administration, discusses pharmacy distribution for pharmacy technicians.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Hannah Nivens, CPhT, a pharmacy distribution specialist at Novant Health Pharmacy Administration, discusses her role in the pharmacy and the benefits of alternative career paths for pharmacy technicians.

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Q: Can you start by explaining your position and role in the pharmacy?

Hannah Nivens: I'm Hannah Nivens. I am the pharmacy distribution specialists for Novant. So with that is that means that I support our procurement teams, which are our pharmacy buyers, with their distribution of medications. With that my main role is drug shortage management, which is huge these days, because every drug is on backorder. With that, really just coming up with plans and alternatives for our patients, and for our procurement teams, to buy, and have other medications set up for those patients, and we put practices together. Working with our clinical teams, and sometimes physicians, nurses, and respiratory, just kind of everyone, to kind of bring in and make sure that those drug shortages are being managed well, and make sure that we have the medications or alternatives that we need are at all of our sites.

I handle a lot of our recall management, so that kind of sometimes can go hand in hand with drug shortage management. Because sometimes a product can be on short because it was recalled. So that's other tiny pieces, but the main role is drug shortage management for all of our facilities in our clinics.

Q: What kind of qualifications and trainings were involved for your role?

Hannah Nivens: For this role, an associate degree is required, and then they like for you to have a minimum of 2 years of hospital experience. I originally started in retail, and then I went to a hospital that's local, and then that's when I moved over to Novant. So I actually started out at Presbyterian in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I was there for about 3 years before I moved into this role. Having that background before, as a buyer with Novant, I was able to really see and adapt and see who was in this role before how shortage management worked, what all steps are required from the distribution specialist, but also the buyers within the facility.

I really think that that background helped me as I learned and grew into this role and still in growing, knowing the impact that it has at a facility level and making sure that I can support our patients’ needs, but also our buyers on site and their needs and know what they're going through to manage these drug shortages and manage what is being asked of them. So definitely think that that helped guide me and helped support the role that I'm in now.

Q: Why are alternative and specialty career paths for pharmacy technicians important for them and pharmacists?

Hannah Nivens: I think these roles are really crucial right now, and really growing the pharmacy world as its ever changing. I think it's really showing what technicians can really offer with these specialty roles and really help and building relationships within the pharmacy between technicians and pharmacist, but also as you venture out of pharmacy, right? So when you venture into providers, and nursing and different things, really helping to build those relationships and showing how important these roles are and, how vital they are, not only for patients, but also to help provide support to the to the different areas that that roll out a pharmacy.

I think that it's really showing how the technician world is growing, and what technicians are really capable of as these new roles are coming into place. These technicians are taking them on and running with them. I think it's really great, and it's able to show what we can do as technicians and really open some eyes. I think it's very crucial. It's great for what's going on in the pharmacy world right now.

Q: How has the changing landscape of pharmacy impacted the various roles of pharmacy technicians?

Hannah Nivens: I think the way it's really growing and expanding to allow all new types of technicians, like these new positions, for them to really lay the landscape for these to be created. I think it's really showing how technicians can really be leaders and showing how far these roles have come. I definitely think that it's still everchanging. I think, as we continue to move forward, we're going to see a lot more growth, which is amazing for the technician world to really be able to expand more, and really show what we can offer, and how we can continue to change that landscape of pharmacy.

Q: What advice would you offer to pharmacy technicians who want to look into alternative career paths?

Hannah Nivens: I would just say to work really hard and to strive for what you are really desiring and to really put the work in and really allow yourself to grow into the knowledge of all things pharmacy because it can lead to some really awesome opportunities. The pharmacy world is growing every day. It's amazing what all new positions are being created and offered to technician. I really think that if you're wanting to grow into yourself and also into a company or grow out of what your daily job and being a pharmacy technician and go to something higher, to really work hard for that and really strive for that.

A lot of these positions, you need that experience, so you definitely have to work hard to continue to grow, to be able to see what is out there and what can be offered to you. I definitely think that everyone is capable of growing into these roles as different things come up and so many new things certifications for technician’s now it's just it's changing so much. I think the door is being opened really wide for technicians, which is amazing. I think if technicians put the work in that we could really continue to change that pharmacy world and landscape.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

Hannah Nivens: I just am very thankful for this opportunity. I'm very thankful to work with an organization that is really opening the door for pharmacy technicians. This role especially, you don't hear of drug shortage management, or distribution specialist a lot, which is amazing. I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to care for patients in this way while also meeting and getting to work with so many other different departments that I wouldn't be able to if I had not grown into this position, so just really thankful for the opportunity and the role that I'm in and then to be able to share, share a little bit of me and hopefully help other technicians really strive and show what is capable and what's out there.

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