Pharmacy Technicians Burnout Increases as Role in Pharmacy Increases

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Donald Klepser, PhD, MBA, professor and dean of academic affairs at the College of Pharmacy in the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discusses how pharmacy technicians can manage their own stress and burnout.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times®, Donald Klepser, PhD, MBA, professor and dean of academic affairs at the College of Pharmacy in the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discusses his session at the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians Annual Convention and how pharmacy technicians can manage their own stress and burnout.

Q: Due to the increased role of pharmacy technicians, there has been an increased feeling of stress and burnout. How should pharmacy technicians manage their own stress and burnout?

It's a great question, and it's certainly it's not limited to pharmacy technicians, we see it in pharmacists, I see it in my students, it's across the board. I think the first step is to recognize that you are feeling stressed that you are overwhelmed. That's definitely got to be the first step. Then, taking advantage of services that are available to you. Unfortunately, because of the heightened awareness of stress and burnout, a lot more workplaces have programs to support, so take advantage of those. Take care of yourself, and I know it sounds trite, but get sleep, get some exercise eat, lay off alcohol, and all of those things that also contribute to that stress in some of those feelings are important.

Then I think the last thing is talk to somebody, talk to somebody at work, talk to your supervisor, make sure they understand what you're going through. Are there programs available at your workplace? Or that they can connect you with? Or is it simply just an understanding that, “Hey, maybe I need to dial back for a while. I need help.” I think, again, going back to the first, recognizing you have an issue, recognizing that it's okay, that you are stressed and feeling a little overwhelmed and taking advantage of those resources. I think that's the advice for pharmacy technicians and everyone else.

Q: How has automation helped improve pharmacies and decrease burnout among pharmacy technicians and pharmacists alike?

The utilization of automation is going to vary widely from one pharmacy to the other, but at its core, it should make people more efficient. It should take away some of the repetitive tasks, if there's a software or machine or something that can help. It should allow people to spend less time on those things and focus more time on higher value higher cognitive services. Is that necessarily going to improve stress and burnout? Well, hopefully, it reduces workload. I think that's where care has to be taken is that we're not introducing something that actually makes things worse or the level of stress remains the same. So, great opportunity just has to be thoughtfully implemented.