Their perspective influences their ability to manage both up and down in the pharmacy.
When most pharmacy students begin their internships, it is typically their first time behind a pharmacy counter. But for individuals like Miranda Jandreau and Cody Moller, 2 pharmacy students from Husson University School of Pharmacy in Bangor, Maine, it is a very familiar place.
Both Jandreau and Moller worked as pharmacy technicians (techs) before deciding to pursue the PharmD degree. Their experiences as techs and interns, and eventually as pharmacists, give them a 360-degree view into the inner workings of a pharmacy. How will that perspective affect how they collaborate with, interact with, and manage techs now and in the future? Here are some of their unique insights (originally shared on the National Healthcareer Association’s OnScript Podcast1 ) that anyone managing up and down within a pharmacy can learn from.
All hands are on deck. Pharmacies can be busy and hectic environments, regardless of whether they are the hospital, independent community, or large chain variety. Many pharmacies fill 1000 or more prescriptions per week. When things get hectic, teamwork becomes especially important and everyone needs to pitch in. There will be some overlap in roles, as employees cannot work in silos.
“I’ll roll up my sleeves and take out the trash,” said Moller, an intern in his final year of pharmacy school.
“There’s no work that I think, at least in my position, is segmented or sequestered off that’s not mine to do,” he said. “If it needs to get done, I will get it done.”
Flexibility is important, and Moller thinks that no team member should believe they are above doing something trivial, such as taking out the trash.
“I always prefer to think I’m working alongside all team members,” he said.
Break down barriers and create efficiencies by understanding roles. It is important to understand what the individual in each role—intern, pharmacist, and tech—knows and does not know and their scope of practice and training. “I often think that some of the best pharmacists are the ones [who] have gone through being a technician and [are] working their way up that ladder, because they know what to expect and what is expected of them before they reach that PharmD or pharmacist status,” said Jandreau, a second-year pharmacy student. “The technicians, especially the ones I work with, are very knowledgeable in the aspect of pharmacy, even though they may not have the academic background in it,” she said. “I have the confidence to go to them to answer my questions, which is something that makes me feel [assured] as an intern currently. …Also, as a progressing pharmacy student, once I get there, [I know that I [will be] able to [entrust the pharmacy technicians with more activities.]
Formerly, being a tech required having only a high school diploma or equivalent, but as roles have expanded, that has drastically changed.2 Today, 90% of pharmacies encourage or require certification, up from 70% just 2 years ago.3 These professionals have more skills and training than ever before, which can help alleviate some of the pharmacist’s load and allow for expanded duties and responsibilities.
Strong pharmacy relationships are built on trust. Relationships matter among interns, pharmacists, and techs. All team members should feel secure about bringing up their mistakes, ideas for improvement, and questions without feeling concerned about being disregarded or reprimanded. An environment that encourages open communication is vital.
“Being able to bring ideas forward, no matter who you are [or] what position you have…is really important in any type of pharmacy or any work environment,” Jandreau said.
“If I feel comfortable discussing any matter with you, and I make it very clear that I’m OK to receive feedback and criticism from you, the technician. I think that goes a long way,” Moller said.
Jandreau’s and Moller’s journey up the pharmacy career ladder offers lessons. They understand through their experiences in each role just how critical every team member is and how important it is that they all work together cohesively.
A strong pharmacy team is more important than ever as pharmacies are experiencing 2 related factors: the addition of tasks, such as immunizations and reconciliations, and the fact that half of pharmacists are at risk of burnout.4 The key attributes that Jandreau and Moller share, such as communication, teamwork, trust, and understanding, can help lead to a better, more efficient pharmacy. Techs then feel empowered to work to the best of their ability and can take on greater responsibilities, pharmacists can free up time for more patient interaction, and everyone inside the pharmacy, including patients, can have a better overall experience.