Q&A with the Former Chair of the PTCB Board of Governors
Scott A. Meyers, RPh, MS, FASHP, shares his thoughts on pharmacy technicians and their growing role within the pharmacy team.
Few individuals can offer as unique a perspective on the evolving role of pharmacy technicians as Scott A. Meyers, RPh, MS, FASHP.
Meyers is a member and the former chair of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) Board of Governors, positions that have enabled him to oversee and bear witness to a number of changes in the technician profession. Meyers also currently serves as the executive vice president of the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists (ICHP).
In an exclusive interview with Pharmacy Times, Meyers shared his thoughts on pharmacy technicians and their growing role within the pharmacy team.
Q: How did you come to take on a leadership role within the PTCB?
A: I suppose you could call it fate. ICHP was already certifying pharmacy technicians before PTCB existed. As ICHP’s executive director at the time, I was involved from the onset in inviting the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and the American Pharmacists Association to join ICHP and the Michigan Pharmacists Association in forming a national certifying body.
Q: What do you consider to be the most essential quality for a pharmacy technician to possess?
A: Integrity, followed closely by a dedication to help patients. Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in providing care to patients in hospitals, community pharmacies, long-term care facilities, and homes. They must be dedicated and focused on what is best for the patient at all times.
Q: What are some important changes that you have observed in the technician profession throughout your career as a pharmacist and your tenure as a PTCB board member?
A: There is a much greater variety of new tasks and responsibilities for pharmacy technicians now than there was back in the early years of my career. I think this is partly because of the progress of the pharmacy profession and partly because pharmacists have realized that, in order to use their knowledge and skills at the highest level, it is necessary for technicians to take on more responsibilities and develop a higher level of knowledge and skills as well. Technicians are now involved in medication reconciliation, health care data collection, informatics, and sterile compounding.
Q: What do you believe to be the most crucial issue facing technicians today?
A: Technicians must determine if they view themselves as professionals and will take on the responsibilities that go with that or if they wish to continue to have jobs and have all their responsibilities dictated to them by others. Leadership within the pharmacy technician workforce is there, but more technicians need to embrace it, take it on, and expand it as partners with pharmacists. And pharmacists need to do the same!
Q: What changes to the technician profession do you think we’ll see in the near future?
A: I think pharmacy technicians will take over the medication distribution system with very little pharmacist supervision. In addition, we will continue to see expanded roles in the area of data collection, medication reconciliation, and informatics.
Q: What advice would you give to technicians to help them navigate the shifting landscape of pharmacy?
A: Determine where you fit in the system; find your niche and make it yours. Not every technician wants to be or can be a pharmacist, although many should consider it. But those who can’t or don’t want to can still serve as a very important and valuable member of the pharmacy and health care team. Being a technician is now a career for most technicians, and making the most of your career can be rewarding in so many ways. All pharmacy technicians should move away from the “job” mentality and move into the “career” mode and find the part of the career that provides them with the right amount of responsibility, challenge, and satisfaction.
Q: Do you have additional thoughts or insights that you would like to share?
A: The first 20 years of PTCB have been very rewarding for me, and the changes that have occurred in the profession and the minds of the pharmacists and technicians—and in the demands from the public, government agencies, and other health care providers—have made it very worthwhile! There are definitely challenges ahead, and our profession moves much too slowly at times, but organizations like PTCB serve as catalysts that can help speed up needed changes. PTCB has proven to be a successful change agent, and I am very fortunate to have been along for the ride!