Pharmacy Technician Immunizers Can Provide The Much Needed Shot In The Arm For Community Pharmacies

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The immunizing technicians stated they had greater job satisfaction and had a greater sense of being valuable pharmacy members

Pharmacy technicians’ professional abilities have greatly increased over time, from technical assistance in data entry, filling prescriptions and product inventory management, to more patient-centered activities. Today’s technicians are finding useful roles streamlining the workflow for point-of-care testing, patient care services, and designing quality improvement strategies. Technicians have eagerly undertaken training programs to develop the new skills necessary to fulfill these roles.

Through an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act for Medical Countermeasures Against COVID-19, passed in October of 2020, the federal government permitted appropriately trained pharmacy technicians to immunize. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defined the process by which pharmacy technicians could become qualified to provide vaccinations under the PREP Act. Table 1 summarizes the requirements.

Table 1. Pharmacy Technician Training Requirements for Vaccination Under the PREP Act

Table 1. Pharmacy Technician Training Requirements for Vaccination Under the PREP Act

Clinical pharmacists from a large supermarket chain, along with staff at an affiliated college of pharmacy, collaborated to develop an immunization training program for pharmacy technicians. The program, called “Moving the Needle: Immunization Training for Pharmacy Technicians,” aimed to train technicians with an ACPE-approved course fulfilling the requirements of the PREP Act. The 3-part training curriculum encompassed a broad range of topics including basic vaccine facts, storage, and administration capabilities. The program had 5 self-study modules with a 20 question self-test, live training sessions, and an assessment of both intramuscular and subcutaneous injection techniques.

Pharmacist giving a vaccine to a patient

Image credit: Prostock-studio | stock.adobe.com

Researchers conducted a retroactive data study for a chain of supermarket pharmacies in Michigan and Illinois that trained 238 pharmacy technicians using this program. The study focus was to assess whether using immunizing pharmacy technicians (IPTs) led to an increase in immunizations at the pharmacy locations. A secondary focus was to determine whether the use of IPTs affected overall work satisfaction for both IPTs and pharmacists. Exploratory Research in Clinical and Social Pharmacy published study findings.

The researchers chose the time of most frequent immunizing, which coincided with respiratory and influenza virus seasons: from September 16, 2019, to March 1, 2020, and September 16, 2020, to March 1, 2021. They compared immunization data from the pharmacies in locations that employed IPTs to those that did not use IPTs. Of a total of 252 pharmacies in the chain, 129 had IPTs and 118 did not. Five pharmacies were excluded because they had not yet been built at the start of the study period. The study found that pharmacy locations that implemented IPTs showed a mean increase of 159.35 vaccines administered as opposed to 104.57 in stores without IPTs.

To assess IPTs’ impact on workflow and satisfaction, the researchers developed 2 separate but similar surveys. They asked IPTs and pharmacists about various processes involved in prescription filling and distribution and general workflow concerns. Because the use of IPTs was a new phenomenon, it might have contributed to the low survey response rates for IPTs (31.5%) and for pharmacists (21%).

About the Author

Sandra J. Grillo, MBA, RPh, is a retired independent community pharmacist with more than 40 years' experience. She is currently a student in the University of Connecticut Medical Writing Program.

In many cases, the IPTs reported that the increase in immunizing did not adversely affect their primary job functions. Moreover, the IPTs stated more job satisfaction and had a greater sense of being valuable pharmacy members (78.7%). They also felt that the training offered increased opportunities for other health care related jobs (73%). The pharmacists were asked how the addition of IPTs affected their job satisfaction and workflow and more than 67% selected "very positively” or “positively.”

The study demonstrated that the using IPTs can have positive benefits in both vaccine administration volume and pharmacy team dynamics.

Reference

Miran NK, DeLor B, Baker M, et al. Vaccine administration by pharmacy technicians: Impact on vaccination volume, pharmacy workflow and job satisfaction. Explor Res Clin Soc Pharm. 2023;13:100397. Published 2023 Dec 14. doi:10.1016/j.rcsop.2023.100397

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