Tip of the Week: Recognize the Value of Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy managers must understand that it is the people behind an intervention or service that make it effective and valuable.
The implementation of new services creates value not only for the patients we serve, but also for ourselves in terms of self-development, and career mobility. Much of the time when we consider alternative care delivery models, or new services, we do so in the context of ‘freeing up the pharmacist’s time.’ There is certainly much to be said about that. However, freeing up the pharmacist’s time is not accomplished in—nor should it be thought of—a vacuum.
Adams et al go into further detail about this concept in their Annals of Pharmacotherapy editorial, whose title suggests that “technicians are people, too.”1 The authors assert that in order to make consistent long-term advances in pharmacy care, we must consider outcomes beyond the value to pharmacists, considering the humanistic value to other support staff, including technicians.
In the editorial, the authors refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, reminding the reader that it is not just pharmacists who strive to be their best. Everyone seeks to have lower-level needs filled, then move on to higher order needs like belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Role optimization is achieved when there is congruence of roles among all pharmacy employees, including support staff. After all, previous studies have revealed technicians in the community setting to be the ‘face’ of the pharmacy.
Systematic reviews found much success among pharmacy interventions that optimized technician roles. When designing and implementing such interventions, pharmacy managers must be mindful of and promote technicians’ self-identity. The enhanced competence, and professionalization of these support personnel makes delegation to them that more effective. It is effective delegation, not performing more tasks, that truly allows pharmacists to practice at the top of their license.
Pharmacy managers must understand that it is the people behind an intervention or service that make it effective and valuable. The service will not turn out to be effective if the people behind it are disengaged, do not understand their role in the organization, and thus exhibit low satisfaction, and high turnover. Remembering that technicians are people too will actually improve the work lives of the pharmacists to whom those technicians report.
Additional information about medication therapy management and management functions can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. You or your institution can subscribe to AccessPharmacy to access the textbook.
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is Professor of Social/Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California. He is author of Chapter 1: The “Management” in Medication Therapy Management and Management Functions in the textbook Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
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. 2019;53(5):545-547.