If you are struggling to engage and motivate your pharmacy technicians, making some small changes can help. Here are some tips.
1. Start a Mentoring Program
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, professor at Touro University California College of Pharmacy in Vallejo, CA, says it’s important for pharmacists to “provide an organizational climate that allows for technicians to mentor one another, in addition to the pharmacist mentoring them.”
Desselle says mentoring gives the senior technicians pride and accomplishment and the desire to remain with the organization. At the same time, it allows the junior technician to learn more than just technical responsibilities, such as customer service, organization norms, and attitudes. Desselle is editor of Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy and co-editor of Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings.
2. Empower Them
Pharmacy technicians want more responsibility and one of the most important things a pharmacist can do is “delegate any and every responsibility procedures that they are legally accorded to do. I can’t overstate the importance of that,” Desselle says.
Tiffany Bartlett, CPhT, CSPT, agrees. She has been a certified pharmacy technician for more than 20 years and a specialty pharmacy technician at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Spring, TX, for almost three years. “I think there are many responsibilities that can be delegated to the technician, such as insurance specialist, educator, medication therapy management, and quality control. With each new opportunity, each role should be evaluated and minimum guidelines should be established relating to educational requirements and work experience in order to choose the right candidate for the position,” says Bartlett. “Pharmacy technicians are anxious to break out of their traditional roles in retail and hospital and use their skills and knowledge to practice in exciting new opportunities.”
Kilee Yarosh, RPh, MBA, market pharmacy director, Turnbull Memorial Hospital, Northside Medical Center, Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital, and Steward Family Hospital in Ohio, notes that technicians have more opportunities to expand their roles.
“As we continue to see the practice of pharmacy transform, it will be integral to our profession’s success that we indeed work hand-in-hand with our technician workforce to ensure adequate training, credentialing, and support to provide the best care possible to our patients, regardless of practice setting,” Yarosh says.
She recalls working with a technician who came into the field with a business background.
“Over the course of several years, I had the opportunity to work with this technician and help develop their skills, especially in the area of informatics. This tech had an opportunity recently to become a team lead for an informatics group.”
3. Use Them as a Resource
Bartlett, who has a national specialty certification in sterile compounding from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, creates continuing education content for the approximately 180 pharmacy technicians at the cancer center. She often seeks advice from clinical pharmacists on her team to troubleshoot problems within an online training module or receive constructive feedback on the best way to present a real-life scenario to trainees.
“On the other hand, the same clinical pharmacists on my team will seek advice from me on real-life scenarios experienced by technicians working in the clean room. Moreover, they may ask questions regarding inpatient work flow improvement options and gain insight from my work experience on preparing a patient-specific sterile compound,” Bartlett says.
4. Have Difficult Conversations
Yarosh says that providing transparent feedback to technicians is one way to help them improve their job performance. Pharmacists should also set clear expectations, have goal-setting discussions, and “provide projects that capitalize on their strengths but also push their comfort zone,” he says.