ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

April 22, 2019

Overcoming Burnout: Advice from Your Pharmacy Peers

MORE THAN 50 PERCENT OF PHARMACISTS WHO PRACTICE IN ACUTE AND AMBULATORY CARE SETTINGS EXPERIENCE BURNOUT, which is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and/or a low sense of personal accomplishment. While burnout is devastating on a personal level, the syndrome can also affect a pharmacist’s ability to fulfill their duties, which can negatively impact patient care.

 

Often when we have a problem, we turn to our peers for support and guidance. ASHP InterSections asked a student pharmacist, a new practitioner, and a pharmacy leader to share their thoughts on resilience and burnout. Here’s their advice.

 

ASHP InterSections: What have you found most challenging about thriving at work or school?

 

Sydney Stiener

Sydney Stiener

ASHP member since 2015

Student Pharmacist and Pharm.D. Candidate (May 2019)

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy

“The biggest challenge for me has been finding the right balance between meeting school-related priorities and dedicating myself to hobbies that help me recharge and be efficient and successful. As a pharmacy student pursuing a residency and facing a competitive job market, there is a constant expectation to do more. On top of rigorous course work and other demands of pharmacy school, students spend many hours a week involved in student organizations, taking on leadership positions, participating in research — and the list goes on and on. Beyond these extracurricular activities, it’s a challenge to find time to care for ourselves by doing things that make us happy outside of school. Without these things, it’s easy to lose perspective and forget the reasons you wanted to become a pharmacist in the first place.”

 

Shannon Kraus, Pharm.D., BCPS

Shannon Kraus, Pharm.D., BCPS

ASHP member since 2015

PGY1/PGY2 MS/Pharmacy Administration Resident

Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

“It’s been challenging to me as a new practitioner to balance providing quality care with the realities of needing to do so in a cost-effective way, both across the organization and within the pharmacy service line. For example, while I try to provide optimal patient care and work toward outcomes like decreased readmissions through pharmacist-led counseling at discharge, having limited resources has certainly tested my resilience.”

 

Paul Bush, Pharm.D., M.B.A., BCPS, FASHP

ASHP member since 1975

Chief Pharmacy Officer and HSPA/MS Residency Program Director

Duke University Hospital, Durham, N.C.

“I currently lead a large pharmacy program that includes 428 staff and complex pharmacy operations, so there are many moving parts that I need to be thinking about. It can be challenging to manage the many details and the demands of my job.”

 

ASHP InterSections: How do you ensure your well-being and resilience?

 

Stiener: “I can’t always control the challenges that can lead to symptoms of burnout but I can control my attitude toward those challenges. A philosophy that’s helped me bounce back from a bad exam grade, get through long hours of studying, learn from mistakes, and ultimately excel in my program is Hal Elrod’s 5-Minute Rule, which says it’s OK to be upset, angry, frustrated, or negative when something unfavorable happens to you, but you get only five minutes to feel that way. So, I allow myself five minutes to feel those emotions, but then I force myself to put it behind me, learn from it, and move on with my day with a positive attitude and a smile on my face.

 

“I also prioritize activities that make me happy and recharge my overall well-being, like running outside in the fresh air and spending time with friends and family.”

 

Dr. Kraus: “Every morning at 4 a.m., I fill up my resilience bucket by first reflecting on what I am grateful for from the previous day. After that, I go to my local fitness studio. Exercising strengthens me both physically and mentally.

 

“Throughout the day I try to spread my positive energy with my residency family. I’ve even developed Wellness Wednesday, where I send an email focused on physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or financial health with the hope of providing others with an uplifting moment and helping them build resilience.”

 

Paul Bush, Pharm.D., M.B.A., BCPS, FASHP

Dr. Bush:I think the key to stepping up and leading in challenging situations is simply to stay focused. A book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey — and specifically the idea of putting first things first — has helped me get through the week and stay focused.

 

“I go full speed for five days a week, 10 hours a day, so recharging over the weekend with family is very important to maintaining well-being. During the week, I get on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes a day, which is both physically helpful and a good diversion. I also eat a healthy diet and try to sleep for seven hours a night. And I watch my favorite TV series and sports.”

 

ASHP InterSections: What advice would you give others in your position to help them thrive and rebound from burnout?

 

Stiener: “Surround yourself with positive and supportive friends, classmates, mentors, family members, and others who can see you through stressful times and help you maintain perspective. Also, make time for your own hobbies outside of school. It’s amazing how much easier it is to focus and stay engaged when you invest a little time in yourself.”

 

Dr. Kraus: “The triggers of burnout are often our own self-limiting beliefs. However, we can also choose to cultivate joy in our everyday life and remember that, as E.E. Cummings said, ‘The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.’”

 

Dr. Bush: “Give yourself time to recover from stressful events and reduce your workload when these things happen. Maintain a sense of hope, optimism, and self-efficacy and focus on feeling joy at work. Joyful activities such as ensuring patients have positive experiences and improving patient outcomes are healing, create connections, and add meaning and purpose. Make sure you have strategies for self-care and draw on your social safety nets and support from your organization and your peers.”

 

By David Wild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 15, 2019

Residency Match Day 2019

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WHO MATCHED DURING PHASE I of the 2019 Residency Match! By pursuing a residency, you have chosen to distinguish yourself by furthering your education and training. You are on the path to becoming the medication expert on the patient care team in all settings of care.

This year marks 56 years since ASHP began accrediting residencies and 40 years since ASHP’s Residency Match program began. Of our total 5,134 residency positions in 2019, 4,697 are now filled, with the remainder to be filled in Phase II of the Match. If you did not match during the first round, I encourage you to enter into Phase II of the Match, as there are still a number of exceptional programs with unfilled positions. ASHP’s Residency Guide: Preparation for Phase II of the Match, created by members of the New Practitioners Forum, can help you get ready for the next round.

ASHP is committed to continuing to increase the number of residency programs available in the years to come. Over the last five years, PGY1 residency positions have grown by 34% and PGY2 positions by 64%. Specifically, PGY2 residencies in ambulatory care grew by 112%, infectious disease residencies by 68%, and oncology residencies by 40%. Expansive growth occurred in emergency medicine residencies, which grew by 230%, and in pain management and palliative care residencies, which increased by 127%.

This remarkable growth shows that residency-trained pharmacists are in demand. I know that the year ahead will reward you and challenge you, creating a unique experience in your professional journey. As your professional home, ASHP is here to support you as you take this exciting step. ASHP offers a variety of resources tailored for residents, including the AJHP Residents Edition, an exceptional peer-reviewed platform dedicated to pharmacy residents, and the Career Transitions Resource Center. During your residency, stay up-to-date with best practices in research by viewing Essentials of Practice-Based Research for Pharmacists. Finally, be sure to stay involved in the ASHP New Practitioners Forum, which provides career guidance, clinician well-being and resilience resources, and opportunities for volunteer leadership.

On behalf of ASHP, congratulations once again! We are very proud of your accomplishments and wish you the best of luck throughout your residency training. I look forward to seeing you in December at the Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition in Las Vegas.

 

Sincerely,

Paul

 

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March 8, 2019

North Dakota Technician Champions National Certification

This article is part of a series featuring ASHP’s pharmacy technician members and their valuable contributions to the profession. Check out ASHP’s Pharmacy Technician Forum for more information about efforts to advance the pharmacy technician workforce, as well as ways for pharmacy technicians to become more involved in ASHP.

 

Diane Halvorson, CPh.T.

AS A YOUNG ADULT, Diane Halvorson, CPh.T., never intended to become a pharmacy technician. But now, more than 25 years later, she has a gratifying career and is an influential figure in the field. As Lead Pharmacy Technician at Vibra Hospital Pharmacy in Fargo, N.D., Halvorson is a staunch advocate for improving technician certification and education programs.

Successful Technician
Halvorson began working at a hospital pharmacy more than two decades ago. As a single mother, she needed to find a way to support her son. Halvorson was lucky enough to learn the pharmacy technician trade on the job. She didn’t have any experience, but back then the job of a pharmacy technician was “very basic,” she said. She mostly managed the prescription medication stock.

Over time, her boss (the pharmacy director) took notice of her attention to detail and ability to manage her time and work efficiently. “As pharmacy evolved, I evolved along with it,” she said. “I became a sponge and started attending conventions, conferences, and any continuing education I could to expand my knowledge. The support of my peers and leaders gave me the confidence to excel.” When she began serving on the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy in 2011, she realized it was time to become certified.

“I have taken every opportunity to gain the knowledge and understanding of pharmacy and have evolved into the person I am today,” she said

National Standards for Techs
As a member of ASHP and other national and state pharmacy organizations, Halvorson was appointed by the governor of North Dakota to serve a second term on the North Dakota State Board of Pharmacy, with a goal of implementing education and certification programs in the state. The position has provided a forum to speak out about the need for standardizing pharmacy technician training across the nation.

Currently, there is no standard training or certification on a national level to become a pharmacy technician. Education and certification requirements to earn a CPh.T. degree vary by state. Some states may require more training than others, additional exams, or recertification.

But standardization in the profession is needed now more than ever. Pharmacists are now working in more clinical roles, but prescriptions still need to be filled. “Pharmacy technicians should have the credentials and knowledge to fulfill this role safely and accurately,” said Halvorson.

Expanding Tech Education
Halvorson and many of her colleagues would like to see pharmacy technicians undergo the same rigors of training that pharmacists face. “I feel we should have a national standard that establishes a way to ensure all pharmacy technicians have a baseline knowledge when entering the profession,” said Halvorson. “While our education would not be as detailed as the pharmacist, our process should mirror the process of the pharmacist.” The process would include the completion of an exam that verifies the baseline knowledge, she added.

Halvorson is an advocate for improving technician certification and education programs.

Some of the strictest requirements in her field exist in her home state of North Dakota, where pharmacy technicians are required to receive their education from an ASHP/ACPE accredited program. They must take a national certification exam to demonstrate their knowledge of the field, and they may only earn their certification in the state after meeting those requirements.

Hospital pharmacies in North Dakota are also required to have a quality assurance program to track prescription errors. “If you have a near-miss or a mistake that reaches the patient, you need to document it,” said Halvorson. “Was this an isolated incident? Was there a product problem or process problem or personnel problem?”

Technician Advocacy
Donna Kisse, CPh.T., is a pharmacy technician who has gotten to know Halvorson through their service together in North Dakota’s Northland Association for Pharmacy Technicians. Kisse and other colleagues admire Halvorson for the advocacy work she’s taken on toward a goal of consistent, national certification requirements for pharmacy technicians.

“Since pharmacists are taking the lead in clinical patient care roles, pharmacy technicians must be leaders in supporting standardized qualifications to ensure pharmacies are safe, efficient, and have productive work environments,” said Kisse.

Halvorson became involved with ASHP through the Pharmacy Technicians Stakeholders Consensus Conference steering and advisory committee. “For me, being a member of ASHP has elevated my overall knowledge and fundamental understanding of the opportunities of expansion of the scope of practice that a pharmacy technician can achieve,” she said.

The ASHP Pharmacy Technician Forum, which launched last year, has also been integral to her efforts. She currently serves on the forum’s Patient Care Quality Advisory Group committee.

Halvorson began her technician career more than two decades ago and currently serves as the Lead Pharmacy Technician at Vibra Hospital Pharmacy.

Reducing Prescription Errors
Halvorson hopes that all states will move toward following strict training guidelines like those in North Dakota. By not standardizing pharmacy technician training, Halvorson said the profession is putting the safety of patients in jeopardy. “The consumer believes that any person behind the pharmacy counter has education, that those people know what they’re doing, and that they have a minimum education.”

She recalled an incident that made headlines years ago. It involved Emily Jerry, a three-year-old girl in Ohio who died in 2006 as a result of a hospital pharmacy technician error. At the time of the toddler’s death, Ohio didn’t register pharmacy technicians or require any training or licensing to do the job. In 2009, Emily’s Act was signed into law. The legislation requires that pharmacy technicians be at least 18 years of age, register with the State Board of Pharmacy, and pass a Board-approved competency exam. It also includes requirements related to technician training.

“Humans make errors, and that’s why in a pharmacy you have a check and balance,” Halvorson said. That safety net wouldn’t exist without Halvorson and other passionate pharmacy technicians.

By Jessica Firger

 

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February 13, 2019

A3 Collaborative Elevates Diabetes Care in Rural Appalachia

Amy Westmoreland, Pharm.D., BCGP, counsels a patient about her medications.

Amy Westmoreland, Pharm.D., BCGP, Pharmacy Manager and Clinical Pharmacist at Carilion Giles Community Hospital, has a frontline view of the challenges of diabetes management. For years she wondered if there was a way for her and the other pharmacists at the hospital to provide services to patients beyond filling lifesaving prescriptions. Many of the patients admitted to the 25-bed facility in rural Appalachia were there due to lack of adherence to a diabetes medication regimen.

“Many of my patients didn’t understand all of the complexities involved in taking care of their diabetes, and that could spell disaster once they were discharged from the hospital,” explained Dr. Westmoreland. She noticed that some patients weren’t entirely sure how to monitor their blood sugar, and others had only a vague idea of what they should and should not eat. Many were resistant to any sort of dietary education, or those interventions proved to be ineffective.

A3 Collaborative
About a year ago, Dr. Westmoreland heard about a unique program known as the A3 Collaborative. The collaborative is made up of three organizations – ASHP, Apexus, and AIMM (Alliance for Integrated Medication Management). Its purpose is to help healthcare providers and organizations step in to and succeed in the new era of value-based payment models. The A3 Collaborative provides funding to hospitals that would like to bolster the role pharmacists play in value-based patient care.

Dr. Westmoreland (right), collaborates with case manager Jody Janney, R.N., medical social worker Drema Gautier, Mariana Gomez De La Espriella, M.D., and hospitalist Stephanie Boggs, Pharm.D.

Through Dr. Westmoreland’s efforts, Carilion became a member of the A3 Collaborative and was the recipient of 12 months of guidance and leadership from ASHP, Apexus, and AIMM. The comprehensive medication management program she and her colleagues created with help from the collaborative is simple, but it’s already delivering significant results. Carilion’s new value-based patient care model allows diabetes patients more access to their pharmacist in the days, weeks, and months after discharge.

“Our patients are really happy that they have someone they can turn to, someone they can call and help them understand their illness better,” said Dr. Westmoreland. There have been times when she met patients who were on 30 different medications and they needed someone who could help them understand their diabetes management plan.

Postdischarge Counseling
Dr. Westmoreland and her colleagues started the program in July 2018, and they are currently following 22 patients after discharge. Before the patient is discharged, Dr. Westmoreland and her colleagues meet with the patient. They review their medication list and determine what information and help they may need after they’re discharged from the hospital and moved to ambulatory care.

Before discharge from the hospital, the attending pharmacist will ask the patient if they’d like a follow up phone call from a pharmacist to answer any lingering questions. The pharmacist also provides their information and phone number so the patient can contact them during business hours.

If a patient opts into the medication management program, then the pharmacist coach will call to follow up at 10 days, 20 days, a month, and two months after discharge. After that, calls are made once a month. During each call, a pharmacist ask a specific list of questions:

  • Are you able to afford your medication?
  • Are you taking your meds as prescribed?
  • How often do you check your blood sugar?
  • What is the range of your blood sugar ratings? Are you keeping a log?
  • Are you having any side effects such as low blood sugar occurrences?

Although the program is still relatively new, Dr. Westmoreland and her colleagues have already identified a number of medication-related problems such as duplication errors. They found, for example, that one patient was unnecessarily taking two different forms of thyroid replacement therapy. She’s observed other concerning trends as well: Many patients don’t understand the difference between long-acting insulin and short-acting insulin. Some patients are unclear how — and when — to test their blood sugar, or why it is important that a patient log this information for their doctor to review at follow-up appointments.

“Taking the time that is required to effectively review a medication list is time-consuming,” said Dr. Westmoreland. “That’s where a pharmacist has the skill set to come in and effectively look at the medications and provide recommendations for eliminating some drugs that may not be necessary, or optimize doses to make things better for the patient.”

Amy Westmoreland, Pharm.D., BCGP

Closing the Care Gap
Dr. Westmoreland said the program also addresses the disconnect that often exists between specialists and a primary care physician, especially when a patient’s doctors are not all contained in one facility — meaning there may be more than one electronic medical system where the patient’s records are kept.

“There’s a huge gap in care, in my opinion, without having the pharmacist on the care team for every patient,” said Dr. Westmoreland. “I think we’re at a crossroads in healthcare with having the pharmacist on the care team. Pharmacists have a unique knowledge of the medications, and they understand what a normal dose would be and what an exorbitant dose would be. They could look at a prescription and realize something is off or not correct, whereas nurses and doctors may not be looking at the medication lists in the way that pharmacists do.”

A3 Adds Value
Melanie Smith, Pharm.D., BCACP, DPLA, Director of ASHP’s Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners, serves as a staff liaison for the A3 Collaborative. She noted that the collaborative allows ASHP members to test out great ideas that could help keep patients out of the hospital. “Many of our members are being tasked with setting up a clinic or setting up a service in an ambulatory care setting,” said Dr. Smith. “Participating in a program like the A3 Collaborative provides them with essential coaching and mentoring, and helps provide a foundation and the bridge they need to transition the clinical practice from inpatient to outpatient.”

Dr. Westmoreland, for her part, hopes the success of the program will demonstrate the value of adding pharmacists to patient-care teams. “We’re trying to be very proactive before the point of discharge.” It’s important, she said, for patients to have someone they can turn to when their diabetes management becomes overwhelming, or they can’t afford their prescriptions, or their doctor is not readily available to answer questions. “I would like others to see there’s enough value in this program for it to be expanded across the system and across the nation.”

 

By Jessica Firger

 

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December 17, 2018

ASHP Continues to Lead on Pharmacy Workforce Well-Being & Resilience

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

I am pleased to share with you that over the last year ASHP has continued to increase our efforts to support the well-being and resiliency of the pharmacy workforce. ASHP is an original sponsor of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience and is honored to support the pharmacy profession on this important patient care and workforce issue. As the NAM Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience approaches the two-year mark, I would like to share some updates with you on our efforts to help address this important issue facing pharmacists, pharmacy residents, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians.

These past 15 months, through the NAM Action Collaborative and ASHP’s own organizational efforts, we have raised the visibility of clinician burnout, depression, stress, and suicide. Over that time, ASHP has developed resources, educational programming at our national meetings, and community connections for members to learn more about the issue. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy kicked off our 2018 ASHP Summer Meetings by challenging attendees to include well-being as the core of what we do as healthcare workers.

Summer Meetings attendees also heard about some of the science behind resilience and were introduced to interventions for building individual and team resilience through two interactive presentations by Dr. Bryan Sexton, Director of the Duke Patient Safety Center. Conversations on the topic continued in the ASHP House of Delegates, where delegates approved an ASHP policy on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience. We are very pleased to have an official professional policy for members to reference as they begin and continue discussions at their institutions. Efforts by the ASHP House of Delegates also helped form a joint ASHP Council and Commission session on the pharmacists’ role in suicide prevention during the 2018 ASHP Policy Week.

We know that burnout is associated with compromised patient safety and a loss of productivity in the healthcare workforce. As such, we continue to help advance pharmacy-specific research on resilience and well-being. ASHP recently partnered with the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and Duke University Health to study the prevalence of burnout in pharmacy technicians and identify resources to support this important and growing segment of ASHP’s membership. While both NAM and ASHP are improving baseline understanding of challenges to clinician well-being, we are reminded that this is a local issue that requires local solutions to address it. ASHP members continue to share their strategies on how to foster the creation of resilience in clinical learning and managing preceptor burnout. If you traveled to Anaheim for the recent Midyear Clinical Meeting, there were multiple educational sessions on workforce well-being. Many of these sessions were recorded and will be available on ASHP eLearning in early 2019.

NAM recently kicked off a consensus study to examine systems approaches to improve patient care by supporting clinician well-being. ASHP nominated M. Lynn Crismon, Dean, University of Texas, College of Pharmacy, to serve on this committee, which will issue a report with recommendations for system changes to streamline processes and manage complexity, minimize the burden of documentation requirements, and enhance workflow and teamwork to support the well-being of all clinicians and trainees. In the meantime, the NAM clinician well-being knowledge hub continues to grow with solution strategies for leaders, organizations, and individuals, including ASHP contributions to a discussion paper on implementing optimal team-based care to reduce clinician burnout. ASHP state affiliates are also an important part of the conversation, and ASHP has created a state affiliate toolkit on well-being and resilience to assist them in their state-level efforts.

Our continued work in advancing workforce well-being and resilience is ultimately growing a foundation for long-term culture change. We have enhanced our SSHP Recognition Program for the 2018–2019 academic year to encourage our students to address the issue. We know that many of you are working on well-being and resilience within your organizations, and we would appreciate hearing from you. We encourage you to share your stories through our community on ASHP Connect. Or, maybe you know of an individual or an organization that is demonstrating positive progress on resilience and supporting a healthy and engaged workforce. If so, we encourage you to fill out this brief survey so that we can create case studies others can learn from.

I hope you share our enthusiasm about this very important work to support the resilience and well-being of the entire pharmacy workforce and about the impact this work will have on improving patient care.

Thanks so much for being an ASHP member and for everything you do for your patients and pharmacy teams. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future as ASHP’s efforts continue in this important area. Have a safe holiday season.

Sincerely,

Paul

August 31, 2018

Pharmacy Technician Untangles Knots in the Supply Chain

This article is part of a series featuring ASHP’s pharmacy technician members and their valuable contributions to the profession. Check out ASHP’s Pharmacy Technician Forum for more information about efforts to advance the pharmacy technician workforce, as well as ways for pharmacy technicians to become more involved in ASHP.

 

AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN WHO WORKS AS A  SUPPLY CHAIN CONSULTANT for McKesson Pharmacy Optimization, Cindy Jeter, CPh.T., solves problems. She uses 20 years of pharmacy expertise, her Lean Six Sigma training, and specialized interviewing techniques to help hospital pharmacies across the country optimize workflow, reduce drug expense, and maintain optimal medication inventory levels.

 

Cindy Jeter, CPh.T.

Super Sleuth

On one assignment, Jeter was asked to use her supply chain knowledge to solve a mystery at a large teaching hospital in Texas. More than half of the IV bags prepared in the hospital’s pharmacy were being sent back to the pharmacy at the end of the day. “This meant that roughly 400 bags of IV solution were unused, resulting in thousands of dollars’ worth of medication being thrown in the trash every day,” explained Jeter. “In addition, pharmacy technicians spent four to five hours every day updating the computer system to make sure patients weren’t being charged for unused IV medication.”

After conducting an in-depth analysis, she identified one major cause, observing that when patients were moved to a different area of the hospital, their IV medications weren’t moving with them. The medication was being reordered once the patient was on the new floor and the IV medications on the old floor were then returned to the pharmacy. With more than 250 intensive care unit beds, the number of transfers among floors each day was substantial.

Once Jeter identified the problem and the causes, pharmacy leadership revised their processes and reduced IV bag returns to the pharmacy by 91%. “Consequently, they saved a lot of money, and staff morale increased because technicians didn’t have to spend so much time at the computer updating patient charges,” said Jeter. The pharmacy staff appreciated that I did the investigative work and removed the problem from their plates so they could concentrate on patient care.”

 

Why Pharmacy?

The satisfaction that comes with solving problems is one of the reasons why Jeter went into pharmacy. Jeter, who resides in Springdale, Ark., has a bachelor’s degree in general science from West Texas A&M University. She landed a job as a pharmacy technician at a community hospital pharmacy in 1998. “I didn’t know anything about pharmacy,” she recalled “But they were willing to teach me and invest time in my development for a six-month trial period.” She passed the National Pharmacy Technician Certification exam and, with her aptitude for business, she found her niche in supply chain pharmacy.

Reflecting upon her career accomplishments, Jeter is most proud of winning an innovation award for a McKesson competition in October 2017. The award will fund an online training course for pharmacy buyers, inventory coordinators and supply chain. It is comprised of courses in key areas that are pertinent to pharmacy purchasing such as inventory management, drug shortages, purchasing analytics, emergency preparedness, and pharmacy regulations. “There is a lack of formal training for this vital staff position,” she said. “The world of pharmacy purchasing has increased in complexity over the last decade and requires more skills than before to navigate the challenges associated with pharmacy purchasing.”

 

Inventory Control

In addition to solving supply chain mysteries, Jeter finds fulfillment in helping pharmacy purchasers with inventory management. “In a hospital pharmacy, it’s imperative that you have needed medications in stock,” she said. “You also need to be prepared to treat many patients at the same time. This differs from retail pharmacies, which don’t have to be equipped with products for emergency situations such as a mass shooting or traffic accidents.”

By helping hospital pharmacies control inventory costs, Jeter believes she saves pharmacy jobs. She explained that there are generally three expenses in a hospital pharmacy: medications, staff compensation, and automation expenses. When hospitals are struggling financially, they either have to cut drug costs or employees. “It’s rewarding to help customers more efficiently manage inventory so they can maintain a full staff,” she said.

Jeter is also passionate about being an advocate for pharmacy purchasers. She noted that purchasers have a difficult job trying to manage drug shortages and provide for patient needs. “It takes a lot of dedicated time and effort to keep the hospital pharmacy supplied with the right drugs at the right time,” Jeter said. “Pharmacy purchasers do not always receive training or professional development opportunities.”

She added that being a purchaser is a complex, complicated, and demanding job. Purchasers have tremendous responsibility in providing for patients and do not have the option of simply being out of a medication or a product. Bringing awareness to the position is critical.

 

Advanced Opportunities

With pharmacists taking on more direct patient care roles, there are more advanced opportunities for pharmacy technicians than ever before. Examples include being a supply chain consultant like Jeter, a pharmacy purchaser, a data analyst, a business manager, or a quality assurance specialist.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there will be a 12% job growth rate for pharmacy technicians between now and 2026. “It’s an exciting time for pharmacy technicians to find their niche,” Jeter said. Her best advice for technicians is to be an advocate for yourself, make a plan to reach your goals, and let your manager know what you’d like to achieve.

 

ASHP Endeavors

Jeter, an ASHP member since 2003, finds the organization’s education and networking opportunities invaluable. “Being able to present to my peers about projects I have worked on has helped me increase my leadership skills,” she said.

From 2010 to 2014, Jeter served on the Section Advisory Group on Pharmacy Support Services. As chairwoman of the group from 2011 to 2012, she advocated for the development of new opportunities for pharmacy technicians. She is excited about ASHP’s Pharmacy Technician Forum, which developed from these discussions, and the future of pharmacy technicians as integral members of ASHP.

More recently, Jeter served from 2015 to 2017 on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board Task Force for Advanced Technician Certification, which is working to advance opportunities for technicians to become certified in expanded roles.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be a pharmacy technician and involved in ASHP,” Jeter concluded. “There are practically endless ways technicians can help patients and provide important care.”

By Karen Appold

 

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