May 18, 2020
Washington, DC – Confronted with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, pharmacy technicians are demonstrating unwavering commitment, strength, and courage as they work alongside pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and emergency response teams across pharmacy settings. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) has launched #CPhTStrong, a platform for Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs) to share personal stories of the challenges they face during COVID-19. PTCB has already received more than 80 submitted stories from across the US, and new submissions arrive daily.
“The first-hand accounts from CPhTs show their heroic diligence, care, and hope as they manage unprecedented demands,” said PTCB Executive Director and CEO William Schimmel. ”In normal times, pharmacies already value CPhTs for their dedication and expertise across practice areas. In the midst of COVID-19, it’s even more clear how critical CPhTs are to the delivery of patient care. We commend and celebrate the many devoted CPhTs who are carrying expanded responsibilities during this crisis to support vulnerable patients, address medication shortages, manage prescriptions, restock supplies, and console those affected.”
Nichole D. Foster, MBA, MEd, CPhT, Program Director of the Pharmacy Technician Training Program at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN, said her center’s technicians are being called on to handle much more than ever before. “Our technicians have stepped up in ways we never expected. The atmosphere all through the pandemic is one of teamwork and unity,” she said. “Given their increased responsibilities and the level of initiative they must take in this crisis, I am in awe of our team. A huge challenge is covering those spots when people get sick or need to be removed from patient contact.”
Thomas Sherrer, PharmD, co-owner of Poole's, an independent family-owned pharmacy in Marietta, GA, said technicians are multitasking more during the crisis to support dispensing, immunizations, compounding, and a plethora of services offered by the pharmacy. “Our model has always been that technicians learn everything, with a focus on certain areas, but now our work volume has increased so much they can’t be focused on one task,” he said. “Our technicians are able and willing to do whatever is called for and handle any aspect of the workflow. Some drop off deliveries on their way home. Others are visiting a long-term care facility to help organize and facilitate immunizations of residents who are due for flu or other vaccines. We keep looking for ways we can better protect our patients while keeping our pharmacy team safe.“
Looking ahead, Sherrer anticipates possibly expanding his pharmacy’s services by administering COVID-19 tests. “We have explored the opportunity to do COVID-19 testing, and we’re working on securing the tests. When the time comes, we’ll have our technicians help with pre-screening and paperwork,” he said.
Ryan Burke, PharmD, Director of Professional Affairs at PTCB, emphasizes how technicians are critically important to pharmacies during the pandemic as new stages of the crisis unfold. “As pharmacy teams become more involved in the next phases of increased testing for COVID-19, pharmacy technicians are going to be called on to do even more,” Burke said.
In response to COVID-19, PTCB introduced online proctored exam delivery this month to expand access to test taking for credential candidates at a time when many in-person test centers have been closed or are limited in capacity due to the pandemic. To support the more than 288,000 PTCB CPhTs required to recertify every 2 years, PTCB extended deadlines for recertification and launched a new directory of free continuing education (CE) courses.
Read their stories. Visit ptcb.org/cphtstrong to read CPhT stories of COVID-19 or to submit stories, photos, or videos.
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