William Schimmel became executive director and CEO of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) in December. Previously, he has served the board as associate executive director for several years. He took some time to answer questions about PTCB and its future activities from Valerie DeBenedette, Managing Editor of Drug Topics.
DT: Where is PTCB going from here?
WS: For 20 plus years, our mission has been very consistent. We are focusing on certifying the best people with ultimate goals of making sure patients and medications specifically are as safe as they can be. I don’t think you are going to see a whole lot of difference there.
We just launched our first specialty certification for technicians [The Certified Compounded Sterile Preparation Technician Program].
Our plan is to keep looking and see where the greatest needs are. What are technicians doing now that is beyond helping the pharmacist with dispensing? There is a lot happening in the profession across practice settings and we are looking at where we can best help.
DT: Pharmacy technicians can take a lot of day-to-day functions like dispensing off of pharmacists so they can do more work with patients, such as medication therapy management, counseling, and education. Will these specialized certifications for pharmacy technicians help?
We are fully aligned with that vision for the profession. If I am a pharmacist and I want to do more counseling and want to spend more time on some of those activities, I need to trust the technician that are going to be taking some of those other responsibilities away. Having a certified technician in some specialized area or an advanced role is one more reason for me to trust them as a pharmacist because ultimately, it is still a pharmacist’s license that is on the line.
DT: There have been calls for national standards of training for pharmacy technicians. Will PTCB be looking at that?
That conversation is out there all across the profession. It really does vary across state lines. There are some states that have very few rules. It is no doubt important and we are supportive of the conversation. We think our certification programs are really valuable and we work hard to make sure that there is excellence in everything we do. It is our view that the profession can benefit from having as many certified technicians as possible. I also think it is logical that there is a common set of knowledge and skills that are important for technicians to have and be able to execute on, regardless of the practice setting.
We have some evidence that consumers including patients are in favor of standardization for techs, based on a 2016 public perceptions study, 94% said that their trust in technicians would increase with standardized training and certification. More than three quarters said it was important that all techs be held to the same standard no matter what states they worked in.