Successful Career Ladder Helps Retain Pharmacy Technicians

Tom Greenlee, retail pharmacy manager at the University of Missouri Health Care, and Kayla Hodges, 340B Analyst in Pharmacy Business at the University of Missouri Health Care, discuss how a successful career ladder can help retain pharmacy technicians.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times® at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Meetings and Exhibition, Tom Greenlee, PharmD, retail pharmacy manager at the University of Missouri Health Care, and Kayla Hodges, CPhT, 340B Analyst in Pharmacy Business at the University of Missouri Health Care, discusses how a successful career ladder can help retain pharmacy technicians.

Q: What are successful elements of a career ladder for pharmacy technicians?

Kayla Hodges: Some successful elements of a career ladder can be celebrating or allowing for vertical movement as well as horizontal movement. Also, having formal roles with clear defined titles and descriptions. They also have clear pathways for advancement. You can always get employee buy in as well as the employer buy in, and then they need to must be constantly evolving.

Q: How can these elements contribute to the retention of pharmacy technicians?

Tom Greenlee: Think of pharmacy technician career ladders as an employee engagement tool, and more gauged employees are less likely to leave your organization. I think our pharmacy technicians want to know that their employers are committed to their growth and development, and I think a well-designed, well-built out pharmacy technician career ladder is the health systems expression of that commitment.

Q: What further education and training are recommended for pharmacy technicians who are looking to move up the ladder?

First, you can capitalize on any employee offered training programs, even if they don't necessarily play into your particular job description or job title. Then also going through a national certification like PTCB to get nationally certified. PTCB also has a plethora of other training programs available through other pharmacy areas.

Q: How can a ladder be successfully implemented, allowing technicians to advance even if there are no open positions as they move up?

Kayla Hodges: Successful ladders must allow for horizontal movement as well as vertical. If a position is not available, then encouraging technicians to maybe look at some lateral moves to increase their skill set making them a more best fit for the position when it comes available.

Q: How has the pandemic accelerated the advancement of pharmacy technicians?

Tom Greenlee: Well, I think the obvious answer for that one would be the federal authority that was given to technicians to allow them to be able to provide immunizations. I think that was just a really quick catalyst for advancement of technician pharmacy practice. I think maybe a less obvious answer just comes from the overall work shortage that we're experiencing throughout the entire health care arena. A shortage of nurses, shortage of CMAs, pharmacy technicians, and there are so many positions right now that are experiencing these, these staffing shortages that does provide a unique opportunity for pharmacy technicians to step up and fill maybe more nontraditional roles.

Q: How can pharmacy technicians advocate for their advancement, specifically in a hospital setting?

Kayla Hodges: First things first is do your job and do it well. Don't leave anything out, make sure that you're saying sample for other technicians. Then after that, you can start branching out and taking on additional responsibilities, forming groups to help other technicians advanced their knowledge, or just other problem-solving ideas for what your department needs. Lastly, know your organization's language. If your organization is interested in reducing costs, or improving patient safety, then showing how your technician advancement can play the same role as what they're trying to create by reducing costs or increasing patient safety.

Q: Any closing thoughts?

Tom Greenlee: I think if you have more than 2 pharmacy technician positions in your organization, I think that you have all the makings of a technician career ladder. It doesn't need to be really robust. There are health systems of all various sizes, right? I think the important thing is just that you really put that effort and energy into it. Take a take a time to do an assessment of your department and decide you know, where are those opportunities that we can be adding potential positions and then just keep in mind there's never a bad time to review your technician career ladder. Whether it's an opportunity arisen that you can add a new position or whether it's like a more formal review process. There's never a bad time to take out the pharmacy technician ladder and see if can be improved upon.

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