What Makes a Great Pharmacy Technician?
Our students commonly ask us for tips on getting a job after completing our PTCB-recognized education program. Being marketable as an employee takes more than a certification and a well formatted resume. My simple answer to this question is to be a great pharmacy technician! We could provide the standard tips about a well-crafted resume, personal appearance, timeliness, and so forth. But the pharmacy profession benefits from those with a certain mindset. Let’s dive into a few concepts that help pharmacy technicians stand above the crowd.
Put the Patient First
It is common verbiage in nearly every industry that the customer is always right. Whether selling products or services, a business thrives on its ability to keep customers happy and wanting more. In healthcare, there is a lot more at stake than simply keeping customers happy. Yes, the patient experience is important, and this will be emphasized by hospitals, pharmacies, and insurance companies alike. But even more important is the outcomes that the patient experiences. Pharmacy services play a major role in these outcomes. The medication use system must be efficient and effective at ensuring that the patient receives timely treatment that is optimized for their health situation. Pharmacy technicians play an important role in this process.
Acknowledging that everything one does as a pharmacy technician will ultimately impact a patient is an essential mindset to develop as a great pharmacy technician. It is important to have an internal mission to improve the lives of patients. This dedication will provide the motivation to stay current with knowledge and skills and practice empathy in often challenging work environments. It will also be consistent with the goals and values of most healthcare organizations.
Be Enthusiastic About Learning
Healthcare is constantly evolving. This perpetual change means that we as healthcare providers must continue to learn and adapt. Learning as a healthcare professional is a never-ending process. Pharmacy technicians must constantly learn about new medications, new technologies, and changes in the healthcare landscape. Being curious and eager to learn keeps the job interesting and fun. Employers will look for employees who are excited to stay current in their knowledge and help the organization navigate the uncertainties that come with change.
Healthcare provides for a challenging work environment. Resources are often limited, and employees must juggle many tasks while carrying the responsibility that comes with patient care. Patients and patient family members may be stressed by illness and uncertainty. Co-workers may be frustrated with the stress that may come from long hours and challenging situations. It is inevitable that there will be difficult encounters with people, whether they be patients, families, or colleagues. To be a great pharmacy technician, one must be able to navigate these circumstances with grace and empathy. Understanding the perspectives and stressors of others is a critical skill for the healthcare worker. Often times, one must shrug off an unpleasant encounter as a product of the situation instead of a personal attack.
Be kind and respectful at all times. Recognize and be empathetic with the struggles of illness, as well as the health disparities that may exist as a result of socioeconomic issues.
The breadth of information in the world of pharmacy is staggering. There are thousands of molecules that are considered medications. Laws are complex and constantly changing. Information systems evolve. It is perfectly fine to not have an answer to a question. The correct answer in this scenario is that one does not know and will follow up as deemed appropriate. Do not hesitate to ask for help or point to a more appropriate resource. Also, while the role is constantly advancing, it is important not to exceed the scope of the pharmacy technician. Leverage the skills of colleagues and defer to the pharmacist when appropriate. Colleagues and employers respect individuals who look to learn from others and improve their skills as a member of the team rather than pretend they know more than they do.
Pharmacy technicians have an important duty in ensuring that patients benefit from safe and timely medication therapy. Approaching the job with enthusiasm, empathy, humbleness, and a patient-first mindset is the hallmark of a great pharmacy technician.