Meet Julie Rhodes, CPhT, a certified pharmacy technician and Director of the Pharmacy Technician Academy.
We thought you might like to meet an actual pharmacy technician to learn a little more about what the job is really like. So we asked Julie Rhodes, who's been a certified pharmacy technician at Lutheran Medical Center since 1996, a few questions about her and her job.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician?
JR: My mother and brother both worked in a pharmacy setting. My mother was a systems coordinator and my brother was a salesman for pharmaceutical equipment. So going into pharmacy seemed like a natural decision. I contacted pharmacy technician programs in the area and attended one at night while I worked during the day. I interviewed one week after I finished the program and was hired my first time out!
Q: What's your education and technician training background?
JR: I attended a program in 1994 at Children's Hospital in Denver. I worked as a pharmacy technician at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver for one year then moved to Lutheran Medical Center in 1996. That same year I took my certification exam and was Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) certified. I have maintained my PTCB certification since 1996.
Q: What happens during a typical day at work?
JR: My typical work day is very diverse. I'm the pharmacy technician supervisor so that encompasses quite a few duties:
I work Monday through Friday and each morning I come in and make sure all shifts are covered (no sick calls). I'm responsible for the pharmacist and technician staffing schedules, and I also staff when needed. I make sure everyone has the supplies and equipment needed to complete their responsibilities. I'm in charge of dispensing all outpatient prescriptions for patients leaving the hospital who cannot afford their medications.
I review policies and procedures and am responsible for the hiring and training of all technicians and pharmacy interns. I train pharmacists in specific areas such as USP 797 [a regulation that governs pharmacy policies].
I perform a daily check on narcotic discrepancies - both on nursing and pharmacy sides. Based on the reports I run, I notify responsible parties to resolve issues when necessary.
Finally, I oversee the medication reconciliation program in our emergency room and pre-surgical care units. Our technicians run this program.
Q: Who do you interact with most on a daily basis?
JR: I interact with the pharmacy staff on their needs, and that can range from work to home life and everything in between. I also interact with the nursing staff and sit on committees with them. I'm a point of contact for automated dispensing issues - nurses know they can contact me, and they do, with issues or questions.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
JR: I enjoy the interaction I have with my team members. I work in an office and like to go out to the main pharmacy and just hang out there and talk to them. Whether it's about work issues, frustrations or to hear about their day - or maybe even to talk about the Denver Broncos.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
JR: Performance reviews. I find it difficult to sit down and put a technician's year of work down on two pieces of paper. They work hard every day and I believe they should all get the highest reward possible.
Q: Why do you feel your role as a pharmacy technician is important?
JR: Because the technicians have somebody they can go to for anything they need. I was a staff technician for 11 years and understand technicians' day to day duties and how hard it can be sometimes. I rarely contribute directly to patient care, although I do staff from time to time. It's rewarding to compound sterile and non-sterile products and to have a counter filled with items to check. However I feel that I indirectly contribute by making sure my team is working efficiently and without error and by making them as happy as I can.
Q: What other practice settings, if any, have you worked in? How did these compare to your current position?
JR: I worked in the oncology pharmacy for one year where I mixed chemotherapy for our patients. I worked in an emergency room pharmacy setting for most of my career. This was always changing and challenging, since there was direct patient contact and collaboration with nursing and physicians. I also worked in an intensive care unit setting where I did order entry and intravenous rounds. These experiences do not compare at all to what I do now, but they did give me many tools to help me communicate with different types of people, work in challenging environments, and understand the needs of pharmacists, nurses and pharmacy technicians.
Q: What would you share with someone interested in becoming a pharmacy technician?
JR: The role of a pharmacy technician is ever changing. There are many opportunities within the pharmacy technician profession to branch out and try different roles within the pharmacy. In our one pharmacy, we have medication reconciliation technicians, technician supervisors, technician team leaders, and one technician runs the indigent recovery program. There are also the more traditional roles of the intravenous technician and automated dispensing technician. We also have an infusion center pharmacy where technicians spend most of their day compounding chemotherapy. I would say that a career as a pharmacy technician is full of opportunities, and it is also a very stable profession. It is a good way to see other professions in the health care field as well.
Don't lose out on this career opportunity - to start your application process, print, fill out and email a completed student profile form along with a typed essay (max of 500 words) explaining why you are interested in and should be considered for the Pharmacy Technician Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org