Q&A with CPhT of the Year Finalist Rico Powell


Rico Powell, CPhT, shares his thoughts on the pharmacy technician's growing role in ensuring patient safety and improving health care outcomes.

As a pharmacy automations analyst for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Rico Powell, CPhT, has both observed and taken on the advanced roles that technicians are beginning to play on the pharmacy team.

He previously worked as the pharmacy technician manager at Methodist Healthcare in Memphis, where his work in pharmacy automations improved the safety of the medications prepared in the hospital.

Powell was recognized for these efforts by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), which named him as a finalist for its inaugural CPhT of the Year award in 2013.

In an exclusive interview with Pharmacy Times, Powell shared his thoughts on the technician’s growing role in ensuring patient safety and improving health care outcomes.

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

A: I decided to become a pharmacy technician in order to collaborate with the health care teams and ensure patient autonomy. I saw the potential for this role the moment it was introduced to me 13 years ago, and pharmacy technicians are able to now ensure improved patient outcomes and safety.

I’ve truly been in the right place at the right time during the practice model changes in pharmacy. My health care establishment has a vested interest in pharmacy technicians taking on more responsibilities and advancing their careers throughout the organization.

I’ve also had amazing pharmacy leaders allowing me to have a chair at the table helping to improve patient outcomes.

Q: What is the most important quality for a pharmacy technician to possess?

A: The most important quality for technicians is professionalism. In order for this role to continue growing, it’s important for the current and future techs to approach the health care arena knowing how to serve as health care professionals.

Professional health care workers are mostly seen as strictly clinical, but with the advancement of technology, technicians have found themselves with greater roles. I’ve said many times to new technicians that it’s not just a job, but it’s a career that can improve health care outcomes and save lives.

Q: What is the most critical issue facing technicians today?

A: Technicians need to have greater educational requirements and training programs. We don’t have to create a new model; instead, we can follow in the example of other health care professionals such as registered nurses, who have many advanced programs in which they can train.

As we increase standards from educators and programs, the profession will continue to grow strong.

Q: What are some unique challenges and rewards of working at a children’s hospital?

A: From the observation of our technician team, the rewards are plentiful. Working in a children’s hospital allows you to carefully challenge yourself to abide by a safe, loving, error-free culture through the sensitivity for the pediatric patient population.

Q: What advice do you have for fellow technicians?

A: I advise every technician to seek a bachelor’s degree. Most employers are willing to hire technicians in advanced roles if they are able to compete with the educational standards of other health care professionals.

PTCB certification is also important for any technician looking to advance.

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