There will be “Tech Check Tech” and I think it will be sooner than later. We cannot continue to define our jobs as what we do to run “The Prescription Mill” and still call pharmacy a profession. A this stage, we are presiding over a professional failure.
I testified at a meeting of The California Board of Pharmacy in August of 1972. The California board rotated the cities where they held the meetings. This one was in San Francisco. The number one issue that had gathered a list of maybe 15 people who wanted to testify was: Shall a new designation of pharmacy ancillary help called “Pharmacy Technician” be allowed.
People went ape-!**@!. The unions were there. The Guild was there. The associations were there. All of these people defined pharmacists as “Prescription Mill” minders and that was what we did in 1972. They warned that pharmacists would be out of jobs if technicians were allowed to type prescription labels. They screamed that patients would be put in danger. They all were smug and self important and then Jay Pee stepped up to the microphone. If the union chiefs had tomatoes, they would have been flinging them. The head of The Guild shook his fist at me.
My message to the board was simple, “We do this or we are dead as a profession”. You know how that turned out. Without technicians, we would be dead in the water. We would not be able to provide essential medicines to all patients in an effective, efficient and timely manner. We would be a failed profession.
We cannot afford that. When there is “Tech check Tech”, you can go do what pharmacists at mandated by law to do. I do not have to remind you of what that is because you break the law 100 times a day.
“But, Jay Pee, how can you trust technicians to deal with interactions, dosage irregularities and those types of incidences?” You don’t. That would be idiotic. When the pharmacy software stops the process and warns: Look at this. Only a pharmacist can look at it and sign off. I think you do that with a secret password. In Washington state, my password was: JPOK.
For “Tech Check Tech” to work, we need a new designation. I suggest “Advanced Pharmacy Technician”. They must be trained by the industry and not by the companies. I do not believe that all drug store/ big box/ grocery companies can be trusted. Rite-Aid will do anything to try to get a profit. CVS has a reputation of cheating. Just Google CVS in trouble. The list is huge. The APhA loves this kind of !**@!. Let them do it. I have no doubt that an Advanced Pharmacy Technician designation earned by working through an APhA program would produce the real deal.
Celebrate. What do you do?
You counsel. You explain to the young mother with a 4 year old asthmatic child how to use the Xopenex MDI with a spacer. In the process, you discover that the young mother is illiterate and she cannot read the dosage instructions on the tapered dose of prednisolone liquid. You go and be a professional.
I do not expect that this process will be slick and easy. It will be new. I can attest to the value of counseling, on Rx, on OTC drugs, on wound care. People like it.
There are pharmacists who will not want to do this. Go into real estate.
There are pharmacists who will not be competent. Now, that is scary. Should the pharmacists who give inaccurate counseling advice or incomplete counseling advice continue to get a six figure salary?
This is coming, you guys. Better get ready now because we want to run this ship. We do not need non-pharmacist MBA Masters of the Universe anywhere in the process.