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The Changing Role of Pharmacy Technicians

There’s an old saying that mentions “The only thing that doesn’t change is change.” That seems to be the case across the board for nurses and for pharmacy technicians. The health care industry is always evolving and the impact seems to be wide spread.

On medscape.com, Rod Franklin posted his interview Douglas Scheckelhoff, MS, RPh, FASHP, and ASHP’s vice president of professional development. Scheckelhoff had some interesting insights pertaining to the future roles of pharmacy technicians. As Franklin introduced his guest, he explained, “The role of technicians who assist licensed pharmacists in hospitals is evolving. Part of this is because of the perceived need for licensed pharmacists to spend less time on perfunctory duties and more time in direct patient care.”

“Historically, pharmacists have been very involved with drug distribution activities, but over the last 10 to 15 years, there has been a shift from drug distribution to greater pharmacist involvement in patient care types of activities. We believe that shift needs to continue, and pharmacists should be spending the majority of their time in direct patient care activities. Pharmacists should, however, still have oversight responsibility over drug distribution” said Scheckelhoff.

“We also see a growing number of new activities that are not as traditional [for technicians]. Those may include things like collecting medication lists from patients as part of a medication reconciliation process, or being more involved in [information technology] and automated systems related to medication preparation and dispensing to ensure that the automation is functioning properly. Technicians are also, in some cases, performing chart reviews to identify allergies that may not be well recorded in the electronic health record. Others are collecting laboratory data that can then be used by the pharmacist and followed-up when there are lab values that are outside of the normal range.”

Schecklehoff also adds that pharmacy technicians are being able to expand their duties to benefit the pharmacist. “Often technicians can very effectively extend the reach of what the pharmacist can do by helping with the collection of data or information that the pharmacist can then utilize in interacting with the patient or healthcare providers in making sure that the patient is getting the best possible care.”

With the expanding duties of pharmacy technicians, the widespread advertising of pharmaceuticals and the aging population, it seems like now is the perfect time to be a pharmacy technician student in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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