By: Zachary Tolman, Adriana Carrasco and Michele Fowler
As the world of pharmacy grows around us, there are many opportunities for technicians to assist pharmacists in previously unimaginable ways. These changes will bring questions about the scope and limitations of pharmacy technician licenses and career ladders. Silence from technicians is easily misinterpreted as disinterest. Strong technician advocates are needed to ensure the profession isn’t stifled. So how does a technician like you become a voice for advancement? Where would you even start?
We have a few suggestions…
1) Be Involved
Take your first steps toward advocacy by becoming an active member of your local pharmacy community.
Advocacy is a big task. There is no reason for you to traverse the path on your own. Every state has its own pharmacy organizations. Many of these are state-level affiliates of ASHP. Start with a little bit of research into basic questions like:
- What organizations exist in my state?
- Which one best aligns with my own practice?
- Which associations have my coworkers joined?
Plenty can be gained from membership in a pharmacy association. They are an oasis of resources such as continuing education, networking and experience. In the context of advocacy, one of the primary purposes of pharmacy associations is to advance the interests of the pharmacy community. Most organizations have committees or groups dedicated to legislation and advocacy. These groups are typically well informed. Sometimes they even host events like a Pharmacy Day at the Capitol.
Find out which organization suits you and join. Reach out to them about participating in a meeting. Don’t get caught up with worries about how much time you will be expected to put in. They won’t force anything on you. Your level of involvement is entirely up to you.
2) Be Informed
Do your research. Know your topic. Base your planning and action on the past experiences and successes of others.
Did you know that almost any legislation that impacts your scope of practice happens at the state level? It’s true. That’s good news because you also have much more influence in your state than you do in Washington, DC. It also means that you have the luxury of focusing on the laws and regulations of the state in which you practice. When looking at advancing your scope of practice, keep in mind that other important factors (e.g. training, education and CE requirements) need to accompany discussions about the primary goal.
Your state Board of Pharmacy (BOP) can be a great resource. They will know a ton about the local laws that affect you. The BOP is usually at the center of most serious discussions about upcoming or proposed changes. If asked, they might even be able to provide insight on additional ways to become involved.
Even though they don’t impact you directly, you can benefit from learning about laws in other states. For example, do you want to establish tech-check-tech policies in your state? Look at existing policies in Kansas or one of the other 8 states who have already adopted the practice.
Last year, technicians in Utah who were interested in expanding their roles reached out to pharmacy personnel who had been involved with similar changes in Idaho. Idaho provided a lot of advice and support, including some early outcome data from their implementation. As a result, Utah technicians expect to see the first of these practice advancements go into effect very soon.
3) Be Intrepid
Start small and enjoy the journey.
Advocacy is daunting in appearance, especially when you’re first starting. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the process. I like to remember an old proverb that states, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is now.” Nobody is expecting you to materialize a full-grown oak tree out of thin air. Simply planting the seeds of change is all it takes today. Let the rest come one day at a time.
Technicians have a lot to gain from becoming advocates for their own success. The future of your own career will depend largely on what you are willing to put into it today. You will be amazed at how much can be accomplished by simply being in the right place and sharing your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to speak up or ask your questions. Nobody is going to advocate for your goals as effectively as you.
I promise you, the experience is rewarding. Good luck.