Tailor pharmacy roles based on skill sets, although every technician must be capable of basic professional communication.
Communication skills are possibly the most overworked self-improvement topic. Magazines discuss how to converse with someone who has a passive-aggressive personality. Blogs outline the steps to effectively get your point across in a business meeting. Courses instruct us on body language do’s and don’ts.
Despite the flood of self-help communication tools at our fingertips, a different perspective might be necessary on communication in the pharmacy setting specific to the pharmacy technician role.
Every day, pharmacy technicians talk with patients, caregivers, and other pharmacy staff, including their pharmacist and fellow pharmacy technicians. This requires a helpful, kind, knowledgeable, and informative communication style. They also talk with product vendors, insurance and payment processing representatives, delivery drivers, compliance officers, nurses, and other members of the extended health care team. Although each interaction necessitates a small change in communication style, providing detailed information in a professional manner is always necessary.
Being mindful about communication is vital in the pharmacy for several reasons. For instance, using a quiet voice when speaking with a patient is crucial to maintaining privacy. Additionally, clear written and verbal communication is crucial for accurate medication orders.
Everyone has unique talents and skills. Many people are incredible communicators when it comes to family and friends but not so much with strangers. Some skills may be strong, such as compounding intravenous bags or reconciling a Pyxis machine, but every medical professional should recognize and carefully consider the things they need to work on. By understanding the unique skill sets and strengths of everyone in the pharmacy, we can tailor roles and positions to play to those strengths and provide the best patient care.
For instance, pharmacy technicians who love interacting with patients should be at the front counter to greet the patients. On the other hand, technicians who are easily irritated by cranky patients should take a step back from front-facing work and leave this area to the star communicator. Instead of working the front counter, they should concentrate on individual talents and skills. Recognize the strengths and special pharmacy technician skills among all the technicians and other pharmacy staff members, and use this information to tailor positions and roles. Quite a few online resources are available to help identify unique strengths and skills.
Importantly, leaving key patient communication to the star communicators comes with a caveat: All pharmacy technicians are required to practice basic professional communication, even if it is not their strongest skill or something they particularly enjoy. Having the ability to professionally communicate is crucial, particularly when working with a difficult patient or in a new, challenging situation.
Whether communicating with another pharmacy technician or with a patient, always maintain eye contact, smile, and speak with a clear voice. Be polite and give the information needed in an articulate manner with words and explanations the patient can understand. Professionalism matters in all communication types and should always be top of mind for technicians looking to advance their careers and provide the best possible patient care.
About the Author
Judy Neville, CPHT, CSPT, is AAPT executive officer at the American Association of Pharmacy Technicians.