Tip of the Week: Pharmacists Can Advocate for Their Technician Colleagues

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Effectively managing and respecting technicians is a great start but advocating for them helps to ensure the viability and growth of our profession.

Throughout the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers proved to be resilient, stretching themselves beyond their designated roles to provide the care that the public required. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, in particular, showcased their ability to adapt and respond during times of crisis by emerging as key players for vaccine administration efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted pharmacy technicians as an underutilized asset, as pharmacy technicians met the demand for immunizers by filling the role while concurrently proving they were capable and proficient.

A recent systematic review showed that trained pharmacy technicians practicing at an advanced scope—such as providing accuracy checks of dispensed medications, taking medication histories, and optimization of stock or other costly items—provides an economic benefit to their workplace with annual savings ranging from a few thousand to nearly $90,000.1 Additionally, advanced technician practice also results in time savings for the community pharmacist, which further enables patient-centric care.2 However, according to a 2020 online survey distributed to a national sample of community pharmacists, there may be some barriers to overcome regarding pharmacists’ level of confidence in continued advancement of technician responsibilities.3

It has been said that “without technicians assuming new responsibilities in the pharmacy, the evolution in practice we have long discussed might not take place.”4 Several Management Tips and other articles in Pharmacy Times have discussed advanced technician roles and have described strategies for adequate supervision of workflow and support personnel. However, from the results of the studies mentioned here and elsewhere, it is important that pharmacy managers and professional leaders also advocate for technicians, as they otherwise do not have the sort of gravitas and strength in professional organizations that we do as pharmacists.

Pharmacy managers can speak to corporate management on behalf of technicians, present to Boards of Pharmacy about the need for technician growth, and reassure technicians of their value in the organization. Most of us have witnessed firsthand what an advocate can do for us or someone else. Effectively managing and respecting technicians is a great start but advocating for them helps to ensure the viability and growth of our profession.

Additional information about Pharmacy Technicians can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Valerie Wasem is a PharmD Candidate at Touro University California.

Shane P. Desselle, PhD, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy and Touro University California.

References

1. Banks VL, Barras M, Snoswell CL. Economic benefits of pharmacy technicians practicing at advanced scope: A systematic review. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2020;16(10):1344–1353.

2. Adams AJ, Martin SJ, Stolpe SF “Tech-Check-Tech”: A review of the evidence on its safety and benefits. Am J Health-Sys Pharm. 2011;68(19):1824–1833.

3. Sparkmon W, Barnard M, Rosenthal M, Desselle S, Holmes, E. Community pharmacist perceptions of increased technician responsibility. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2021;61(4):382–389.

4. Adams AJ, Desselle S, Austin Z, Fenn T. Pharmacy technicians are people, too! Let’s consider their personal outcomes along with other pharmacy outcomes. Ann Pharmacother. 2018;53(5):545–547.