How the Coronavirus Pandemic Affects the Role of the Pharmacy Technician
A pharmacy technician is a healthcare professional with several important duties in pharmacies: getting information from patients, packaging and labeling prescriptions, taking phone calls and talking to customers, organizing inventory and taking payments.
During the coronavirus pandemic, many people are finding their roles and hours at work are shifting or even increasing. Pharmacies are essential and still open. If you work as a pharmacy tech, you are probably still on the front lines, helping people get their needed medications and ensuring that everything runs smoothly and safely at the pharmacy.
Most Pharmacy Techs Still at Work, Many Working Harder
Pharmacies are considered essential businesses during the pandemic. People still need medications, and so most pharmacies are still open and may be fully staffed. Some techs may find their hours cut as pharmacists try to work on a minimal staff for safety and appropriate social distancing. But most are still needed.
Many techs may also find that they need to work more hours. As people get sick, there is a greater demand for medications. Pharmacies have even seen a big jump in prescription filling for healthy patients, as experts recommended that everyone stock up on necessary drugs. Some pharmacies are also being asked to administer tests for COVID-19, which requires more workers.
Changing Duties for Pharmacy Technicians
In many workplaces that are involved in combatting the coronavirus epidemic, state governments are relaxing regulations. This means that duties and roles for workers like pharmacy techs may temporarily change or be extended.
For instance, in Massachusetts the government has indicated that it will allow pharmacists and techs to work shifts longer than 12 hours. It will refrain from taking any action against pharmacists not complying with supervisory ratios. So as a tech, you may not have as much supervision as usual and may need to take the initiative in tasks that help patients and customers.
Working in Other States
Some areas may have a greater demand for pharmacy workers, depending on how the pandemic has struck. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has expedited emergency licensing for pharmacists and techs so these needs can be met. You may be able to go out of state to find work through this temporary program.
Safety Risks for Pharmacy Technicians
The downside to demand for pharmacy techs is that you are now at a greater risk of becoming infected by the coronavirus than people who are able to stay home. Technicians are often responsible for keeping pharmacies clean, sanitary and organized. Now this is more important than ever. You may be expected to spend more time on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and tools.
The risk is real, as seen in the tragic death of a 25-year-old pharmacy technician in California who contracted COVID-19. When working during these times, it is essential that you are provided with a clean, safe work environment. Pharmacy techs should be given appropriate personal protective equipment. The pharmacy must also take steps to ensure that techs do not have to get too close to customers. This protects everyone, staff and patients.
The role of the pharmacy technician has always been important. But now, with people needing to stock up on medications, requiring tests for COVID-19 and looking for answers and advice, pharmacy workers are more important than ever. Techs are helping in different ways to keep pharmacies running smoothly and safely and to keep patients and customers calm and informed.