Pharmacy Technician Role Expands
The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges and opportunities, and this requires agility and flexibility.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in more opportunities for health care professionals, and pharmacy technicians are no exception.
Changes and growth within the health care industry have always been a part of the journey within the pharmacy profession. The pandemic has meant many changes on the testing and vaccination fronts, which gives techs who want to expand their responsibilities and roles a leg-up in helping protect their communities alongside their pharmacist partners.
Federal and state waivers are paving the way for techs to help combat COVID-19. As techs attempt to seek out and locate the newly presented opportunities that go along with these waivers, they also are looking to secure education and training to become certified in the administration of clinical laboratory improvement amendment testing for COVID-19 as well as immunizing patients. Many state governments are moving in conjunction with state boards of pharmacy to an all-hands-on-deck approach, prompting an expansion of the certification and licensure status for techs.
These changes may lead to these new tasks becoming permanent functions for techs. Professional leadership associations and organizations within the states have already embraced techs taking on expanded roles.
For instance, in December 2020 the California Board of Pharmacy put in place an immunization waiver for techs based on a state of emergency. With the help and support of the leadership within the state’s 2 main pharmacy organizations, the California Pharmacists Association and the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists, it may be possible for techs to continue these tasks once the “emergency” has passed.
Techs have always been silent warriors but have become frontline health care providers during the pandemic. As dynamic professionals, techs are constantly adjusting to new laws and gaining more skills along the way, continually proving that they can take on more.
During the pandemic, tech’s unique skills of buying and purchasing pharmaceutical products has made them essential in ordering and distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Not many health care workers realize that the reason facilities across the nation have is because of the work of pharmacy buyers and coordinators. In addition, techs prepare medications. Those who work at health benefit plans play a key role in assisting patients in receiving the best prices for their medications during what became a difficult economic time for many.
The most important aspect of the pandemic for techs is that they learned that they have a unique set of skills to help combat crises and lift patients up, even if they are often in the background. Although techs are not always recognized, they have still played a heroic role during COVID-19.
Throughout these unprecedented times, techs have learned that they must keep gaining new skills to be fully prepared for any health care threats that may arise. Working toward certifications to immunize would give techs a better ability to serve communities and patients. One way to combat future health care crises is to invest in providing more learning opportunities and skills acquisition to techs.
As key problem solvers, techs know that all health care workers are in this fight together and that it is only by supporting one another that can complex health care issues be solved.
Paul Sabatini, M Ed, CPhT, FCSHP, is senior markets pharmacy technician at Blue Shield of California.
Sabina Zildic, CPhT, is a pharmacy technician analyst at Sutter Health Plus in Sacramento.
State of California Department of Consumer Affairs. Order waiving restrictions on pharmacy technicians relating to administering COVID-19 vaccines. December 22, 2020. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.dca.ca.gov/licensees/dca_20_103.pdf