Chuck DiTrapano, RPh takes a deep dive into pharmacy technician training, lack of education, and return on investment for certification.
My essential core motivation for technician training comes from both an intense passion to improve the pharmacy profession and a deliberate intention to make the patients it serves safer.
I believe strongly that true patient safety in medication preparation and administration must include a well‐designed process incorporating innovative and affordable technology utilized by competent staff.
I also believe wholeheartedly that technology can only truly be effective when it is utilized by a trained and engaged caregiver.
9 trends that have created a void in pharmacy education:
- Pharmacists are trending toward a more clinical focus
- Continuous advancements in technology effect the need to stay current
- Industry developments and CE requirements effect the need to stay current (USP, state license boards, individual practice competency requirements)
- Operations and dispensing are relying more on technicians and technology
- Pharmacy technicians are positioned for increased responsibility
- Pharmacists are positioned for increased liability (as pharmacy technicians assume more responsibility)
- Recent errors are directly related to pharmacy technician performance:
- Oregon: Technician prepared wrong drug – women died in ER
- Indiana: Omnicell stocking error – heparin overdoses 6 babies, 3 NICU babies died
- Ohio: Technician error in compounding IV solution for Chemo – 2 yr. old Emily Jerry died
- California – Quaid twins given wrong heparin concentration due to restocking error
- Pharmacy technician certification is currently not a requirement in the most states but there is a movement towards standardization
- In most markets, there is currently no accessible or organized pool of certified experienced pharmacy technicians
Pharmacy techs have become an integral part of nearly every segment of every pharmacy in the country. And their responsibilities are growing.
Training and certification can ensure that pharmacy technicians have the core competencies required to safely perform the full scope of practice as well as the right attitude for success.
Most importantly, trained, competent, and reliable techs can drastically reduce any facility’s overall medication error rate.
So what’s the real ROI for tech training?
- Trained techs are less likely to make errors, costing time and money
- Trained techs are more likely to be team players critical for departmental success
- Untrained techs can slow productivity causing delays in treatment or care
- Untrained techs can lack professional skills or conduct
- The process of hiring techs can be long, interim staff positions must be covered by others until filled adding stress to existing staff
- Staff vacancies cost more in overtime paid and are hard to cover especially second and third shifts or holidays
- It’s extremely hard to find qualified candidates:
- Difficult to get “true” employment history
- Hard to identify bad attitudes, laziness, troublemakers, or those with dependency issues before hire
- A bad hire can cost a great deal of time and money to correct
- An unprofessional hire can reflect poorly, costing the whole department
- Techs often work independently and act as the pharmacy representative to other departments in the hospital
- Techs have no time to waste on anything not vital in the context of doing their job, including education
- Classroom training is expensive:
- Pay for training
- Backfill the staff vacancy on the floor
- Classroom learning is less effective than competency training that is targeted, relevant, and directly helpful to the job at hand
- Classroom training is often too broad in focus or happens ahead of time/out of context
- Reinforcing training with on‐the‐job application and clinical context improves retention, makes them feel effective and capable of doing their jobs well
- Ensuring training is focused and relevant shortens the training path and amount of hours spent — A shorter training path means fewer hours away from the job
- Flexible online training that can be accessed any time, in any place, reduces time away from the job even further
- Online training provides evidence‐based outcomes to measure staff competency and real skill sets more effectively than “seat time”
- Relevant Integrated Competency training provided on the spot is the most effective way to train your staff