Pharmacy Technician Q&A: Hortense Jones, CPhT

Hortense Jones, CPhT, shares her experiences and thoughts on the technician's changing role.

Hortense Jones, CPhT, is a dedicated advocate for both her patients and fellow technicians.

As the pharmacy technician supervisor at the Lincoln Community Health Center (LCHC) in Durham, North Carolina, Jones leads a team of 11 pharmacy technicians in processing and filling nearly 1000 prescriptions daily for a total of 30,000 patients. In an effort to help her colleagues better understand and empathize with their patients, Jones developed the “Walk In My Shoes” program, where technicians and pharmacists experience the LCHC pharmacy from a patient’s perspective.

As member of the Advisory Board for the Pharmacy Technology Program at Durham Technical Community College, Jones was instrumental in the program’s American Society of Health-System Pharmacists accreditation, as well as in the addition of the school’s pharmacy technology associate degree program. In recognition of Jones’ commitment to patient health, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board named her as their Certified Pharmacy Technician of the Year in 2015.

Jones recently spoke with Pharmacy Times to share her experiences and thoughts on the technician’s changing role.

Q: What drew you to your career as a pharmacy technician?

A: While I was looking for a summer job, my father died suddenly of a massive stroke at only 55 years old. I always knew I wanted to help people, but after I was hired for my summer job at a local pharmacy, my father’s death drove me to learn about diseases, as well as the medications needed to control or cure those diseases.

Q: What do you consider to be most important quality for a pharmacy technician to possess?

A: Genuinely caring for others produces intuitiveness, instills a thirst for learning, nurtures relationship, and gets you through day-to-day challenges.

Q: What are some of the unique challenges and rewards that come with working as a technician?

A: Our challenges range from issues with technology to ensuring the best patient experience. It is important to remember that a pharmacy is often a patient’s last stop. Knowing that many patients leave with a smile on their face because an attentive, friendly, knowledgeable technician is incredibly rewarding!

Q: What do you believe is the most crucial issue technicians are facing today?

A: As broadening pharmacist roles across the continuum of care is inevitable, technicians need to prepare themselves for specialty roles. The days of simply filling a prescription are vanishing. Now, technicians need to prepare for analytical thinking and innovative solutions for integrated health care. In the industry today, a technician’s responsibilities are far greater than years ago, so it is imperative that salaries, ranks, and opportunities are increased to keep qualified technicians in this field.

Q: Based on your experience, what advice would you give to fellow technicians?

A: Three things in particular:

1. No matter what your challenges are, if you do not know something, make an effort to learn it.

2. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

3. Patient safety is always your top priority.

Q: Is there a particularly meaningful story from your career as a technician that you would be willing to share?

A: My brother was diagnosed with an inherited health problem and was told that he would not live passed the age of 50. The knowledge of medications I gained through my experience as a technician was the most powerful tools I could have had. In a sense, I was able to become a part of his health team, as I understood and communicated with his physicians and they respected my opinions. My brother lived for 15 more years, and to see him progress to live longer made me grateful for and proud of my profession.