This article is for all pharmacy technicians, and pharmacists for that matter, as well as everyone who is considering becoming a pharmacy technician. My recent experiences has led to some serious thought about whether we, the profession of pharmacy, are taking our jobs seriously. A pharmacy is not fast food, even though we joke about “McPharmacy” and our recent increase in drive-up windows. We deal with medications that can cause death or serious harm if given incorrectly, or if the wrong medication is given. There are too many reports in the news about medication errors and I have to think . . . are we taking our jobs seriously, are we meeting the expectations of our patients?
As a pharmacy manager, I have had the pleasure of working with great pharmacy technicians. They show up ready for work, on time, and take their job seriously. They not only get along with their coworkers, they genuinely want to help them and see them succeed. To work with these technicians makes my job worth it. The largest factor that makes these techs successful is that they get it. They know that they are taking care of patients, and therefore any error or delay in service can adversely affect the care of our patients.
Of course, there is always the flip side. I also have the task of working with pharmacy techs that don’t get it. It is my job to help them get to the place that the previous paragraph spoke of. How do I do this? I first explain why our job is important and give clear expectations for what is expected of them. I let them know that continuing down the path they are on and not changing will ultimately result in their termination. You want examples, I know, we all do. Here is a short non-inclusive list: showing up for work late, listening to their iPod while working, socializing instead of focusing on the job at hand, talking on their cell phone or instant messaging constantly at work, taking excessive breaks with no coverage for their work areas during the break, and repeating the same mistake over and over.
The bottom line: Think about what you would expect as a patient or if a family member of yours was sick, how would you want the person attending to their medication needs to act? More importantly, if you are doing anything that distracts you form the job at hand, then stop. We are healthcare professionals, and it is about time we all start acting like it!