Collaborating During a Crisis
The world is facing a huge crisis right now with the spread of the novel coronavirus, which in turn is creating a calamity for healthcare. Many of the problems that are being experienced are related to supply and demand. Shortages of drugs, cleaning and disinfecting agents, and PPE are causing health care systems, hospitals, and clinics to make tough decisions, and have shut down other healthcare agencies like dentist and ophthalmologist offices. During times like this, it is vital that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians join together to support their department and their community as a whole. What can we do as pharmacy technicians to support our teams and provide assistance during times of crisis?
Flexibility will continue to be a hot commodity as leaders search for solutions to staffing issues. During any national or international crisis, flexibility in scheduling becomes a necessity as workers are forced to stay home to take care of family members or are facing illness themselves. But flexibility does not just include coming in on a day off. Flexibility also means doing work outside of your role that day, or volunteering ideas to ease the strain on other shifts. As technicians, we play a vital role in the maintenance of our department. Offering our ideas to streamline workloads or change the timing of duties to better serve our patients can help management focus on the larger problems at hand. We are the workers on the ground, and our management teams value our perspective.
In every department there are individuals whose creativity shines through. These are the individuals who help decorate for holidays or contests, or who bring in homemade treats that look like they could be sold in a professional bakery. This creativity continues to be vital during times of crisis. Decorating or providing treats can provide much-needed fun when people are stressed. That creativity can also help come up with solutions to problems that are occurring as a result of the crisis. Pharmacy technicians can help support their teams by thinking outside the box when faced with shortages. Don’t be afraid to express your ideas!
Teamwork is vital in continuing our work in caring for patients, and reducing the tension caused by the crisis. But teamwork doesn’t just include the members of the pharmacy team. Our team includes nurses and respiratory therapists, CNA’s and supply chain personnel, as well as environmental services and facilities. As pharmacy technicians, we come into contact with members of all departments many times throughout our day. We work around our EVS personnel as they work to keep our department clean, talk with nurses as we deliver medications for their patients and replenish automated dispensing cabinets, and many other tasks that come up during a regular day. During times of crisis, we need to remember that our team has more members than just pharmacy personnel, and these team members are facing the same challenges we are facing. Working with other departments to resolve problems as a team will only result in better patient care, which should always be the goal.
Crises inevitably create stress, and sometimes in ways we could not anticipate. These stressors will affect our ability to respond with positivity. We must be compassionate with each other and remember that we are all in this together. One way to show compassion is to listen with an empathetic ear. Allow the person talking to you, be it a nurse, another technician, a pharmacist, or any other member of the healthcare team, time to express their need. Really listen to what they’re saying and offer potential solutions. Remember the need for teamwork during this stressful time. And don’t forget to extend that compassion to yourself as well. Working during a crisis is emotionally and physically taxing. Give yourself permission to take a break, or even to get mad or cry. Expressing your emotions in a positive way will help you deal with the problems and will help you develop a new normal.
Today’s crisis is unprecedented and requires that we employ all of our skills to continue providing excellent patient care. As pharmacy technicians, we are poised to support our leaders as they make hard decisions and our front-line staff as they bear the burden of patient care. Take care out there and know that we all are in this together!