The Role of Professionalism in the Lives of Pharmacy Technician Students


At the National Pharmacy Technician Association’s virtual Pharmacy Technician Student Summit, Jamie McGuire, the pharmacy technician program director, discussed the role of professionalism in the lives of pharmacy technician students.

At the National Pharmacy Technician Association’s virtual Pharmacy Technician Student Summit, Jamie McGuire, the pharmacy technician program director, discussed the role of professionalism in the lives of pharmacy technician students.

McGuire defined professionalism through some quotes from others, such as Frank Tyger, a columnist and cartoonist for the Trenton Times, who wrote, “Professionalism is knowing how to do it, when to do it, and doing it,” as well as, “Professionalism means consistency of quality.”

According to McGuire, professionalism requires certain skills and types of knowledge, including an eagerness to learn, a strong sense of responsibility to others, a willingness to follow instructions, an orientation toward details, confidence in learning new skills, an unbiased open-mindedness, and critical thinking skills.

“When I created this list, what I was trying to do was create a list of attributes or personality traits that I look for in new students coming into my program. So, each student coming into my program first interviews with me. I want to make sure that anyone coming into this field who wants to dedicate their time to getting a degree in this field, or employment in this field, really has those baselines that are going to make their time in the program enjoyable, as well as their time in this career,” McGuire said during her lecture.

McGuire noted that the subject of professionalism in pharmacy is an incredibly broad subject, so during her lecture, she focused on the areas in which she sees professionals having the most difficulty. These common areas of difficulty include developing appropriate professional qualities and practices, providing excellent customer service and effective telephone etiquette, using problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and adhering to laws, regulations, and standards.

McGuire explained that when developing appropriate professional qualities and practices, having a strong knowledge of pharmacy procedures is not all that is required. It is also important to maintain a professional appearance, behave professionally, exercise professional restraint, communicate with colleagues professionally, and be a team player.

There are a few ways McGuire recommended pharmacy technician students could develop these skills. She recommended 1 method being that students could pick a person, icon, or character they admire who exhibits the professionalism that they want to embody. By watching that individual interact with others and observing their habits and behaviors, it can be possible to learn how to obtain these traits in one’s own life.

“Find someone that you admire. Maybe it’s an instructor, maybe it’s a grandfather—it should be somebody that exhibits the professional that you want to be. Observe them, talk to them, and learn the habits and behaviors that you can from that individual,” McGuire said during her lecture. “See what those qualities are about and see if you can mimic them.”

McGuire explained that customer service is also critical in the pharmacy. No matter where you are in a pharmacy, it will be necessary to interact with customers, which means customer service is going to be a critical component of professionalism.

In order to deliver effective customer service, McGuire said that it’s important to establish an appropriate and respectful tone, be attentive and helpful, prioritize tasks efficiently, project a neutral demeanor, practice both verbal and non-verbal communication, and maintain control over the conversation. For the latter point, McGuire noted that this can be effectively done by asking open-ended questions, speaking clearly, and being empathetic and patient.

“We have a short period of time to get our tasks done, but we also want to make sure that we have given people the time that they need and feel that they need,” McGuire said during her lecture.

In terms of problem-solving in a pharmacy setting, McGuire noted that it’s important to have a systematic approach ready to solve issues. She suggested one such approach being the LEAD method, which is an acronym that stands for listen, explain why, acknowledge, and discuss resolution.

“If I am dealing with an agitated caller, I can use the LEAD method. I listen, I explain why, I acknowledge and make them feel like their problem is a legitimate issue, and then we’ll discuss the resolution. Any question can be answered with a systematic approach,” McGuire explained during the lecture.

Finally, in terms of laws, regulations, and standards, McGuire noted that staying current is essential. She explained that one way of accomplishing this is by joining organizations that will send links with updated information regarding new policies and standards in the field.

“Right now, whether you’re in the pharmacy or not, you can look and find out what rules you should be aware of, how the policies and procedures are being maintained, and when they will be updated,” McGuire said during the lecture. “A lot of you are going to have a part in it.”


McGuire J. Professionalism in Pharmacy. Presented at: Pharmacy Technician Student Summit; July 14, 2020; Virtual.

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