Pharmacy Technician Conference Creates Consensus on Technician Qualifications


The conference emphasized the need for standardization and the importance of safety in the training of pharmacy technicians.

The three-day Pharmacy Technician Stakeholder Consensus Conference in Irving, TX, brought together hundreds of participants to create a consensus on what needs to be done regarding pharmacy technician certification.

The conference was hosted by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) in mid-February. The event included pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, educators, employers, state and national pharmacy associations, state boards of pharmacy, and accreditors, all with the hope of creating a safer pharmacy community.

“PTCB’s primary mission is to advance medication safety,” said Everett B. McAllister, MPA, RPh, PTCB Executive Director and CEO. “To do so, PTCB seeks input from the pharmacy community in the development of future pharmacy technician education requirements and qualifications for certification. The consensus conference outcomes will provide invaluable information from across the practice spectrum to guide future program decisions.”

Related article: Standardization a Pressing Issue for Pharmacy Technicians

Larry Wagenknecht, BSPharm, RPh, Chair of the PTCB Board of Governors, and CEO of the Michigan Pharmacists Association, stressed the importance of the collaboration present in the event. “This three-day event provided an opportunity for [members of] our profession to listen to each other,” he said. “Because of the diversity of sectors within pharmacy, there was a lot of work involved in coming to consensus, and because participants were committed to finding common ground, we made significant progress. We all have a responsibility to our patients to get this right.”

Christopher Jerry, President and CEO of the Emily Jerry Foundation, described the painful story of his daughter’s death due to an accidental sodium chloride overdose in her chemotherapy IV bag caused by a pharmacy technician’s error. Jerry said that after his daughter’s death, he was committed to bringing changes to the health-care industry to prevent more costly mistakes. “Medical errors are a leading cause of death in the US,” he said. “The pharmacy profession must develop uniform standards for pharmacy technicians, and then articulate them to state boards. State boards of pharmacy understand the importance of public safety, but they need the collective support of the profession to be on the same page.”

Related article: Pharmacy techs: Many skills, varying responsibilities

In his keynote address, Michael A. Moné, BSPharm, JD, FAPhA, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Cardinal Health, said, “We must respond to the expectations of the public and align on how to meet them. The public expects quality and safety from all members of the pharmacy team including technicians, an accountable method to measure core competencies, and a uniform standard for technicians.”

The conference saw four panel discussions on the needs of pharmacy technicians, specifically optimal requirements for entry-level technicians, opportunities in advanced technician practice, existing state-to-state inconsistencies in technician regulations, and successful models of standardization. Some successful models included those in Canada and North Dakota.

“A diverse group of stakeholders worked to identify middle ground and address important issues, such as the need for the profession to get on the same page regarding entry-level knowledge and uniform education standards for technicians,” said Matthew Osterhaus, BSPharm, FAPhA, FASCP, Owner/Pharmacist, Osterhaus Pharmacy in Maquoketa, IA. “We found ourselves rallying around a common mission and reachable goals, while balancing the unique needs of each sector of the profession.”

Related article: Health-system pharmacists embrace medication standardization campaign

The event was planned with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, as well as an advisory committee of technicians and pharmacists. Results and recommendations from the conference will be published later this year.

“The conference was a success because participants came from a range of practice areas, openly shared their views, and fully engaged in discussions,” said McAllister. “At the conclusion, attendees indicated a desire to speak with one voice, and work in parallel with state boards to advance patient safety.”

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