While the pharmacy profession is evolving to meet the needs of the industry, pharmacy teams are advancing just as rapidly. As an integral part of that team, pharmacy technicians are taking on more responsibilities in the workplace and stepping up as leaders in advocacy and regulatory bodies. Technicians now serve on 16 state boards of pharmacy. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board are focused on expanding technician representation on all 54 state boards and jurisdictions.
At NABP’s annual meeting in May, two PTCB-certified technicians presented an engaging poster on a “Snapshot of Current Pharmacy Technician Practice” that highlighted the representation of technicians on state boards of pharmacy and technician registration/licensure requirements across the country. When voting on NABP resolutions, members passed a resolution stating that every state board of pharmacy should include at least one technician representative.
NABP’s push for representation recognizes technicians’ critical role in the pharmacy profession and in patient and medication safety. Just recently in Maryland, PTCB helped pass a bill that was ultimately signed by Governor Wes Moore. It requires a technician voice on the Maryland State Board of Pharmacy, including technicians on the boards of state regulatory bodies and state pharmacy associations recognizing technicians as essential pharmacy team members.
Pharmacy technicians have consistently demonstrated that they are willing and prepared to take on new opportunities to advance pharmacy. This became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic when the Department of Health and Human Services invoked the Public Emergency and Preparedness Act—which authorized technicians to administer COVID and other vaccines. Later, flu vaccines for adults were added, as well as COVID therapeutics. From February 2020 to September 2022, pharmacists and technicians conducted more than 42 million COVID-19 tests, provided 270 million-plus COVID-19 vaccinations in community pharmacies and administered more than 50 million flu and other vaccinations annually. This was the first time the federal government formally acknowledged what NABP and PTCB have long known: pharmacy technicians are a vital part of the health care infrastructure.
The value technicians bring to their teams goes beyond providing expanded services like immunizations. The technical proficiency and customer care shown by certified technicians help increase pharmacists’ ability to provide important clinical services. In one Iowa health system that trained a group of technicians to perform medication histories as part of the medication reconciliation process, the number of comprehensive histories taken doubled from 49% to 98%. This resulted in an estimated annual net savings of $1.6 million for the health system.
Working with the Iowa Pharmacy Association, the Iowa State Board of Pharmacy studied the impacts of allowing technicians to perform the final verification on refill prescriptions. After an extensive pilot study, they found that accuracy rates on the final verification were indistinguishable between pharmacists and technicians. The pharmacists in the study reported that their time spent on dispensing activities went from 62% down to 14%. At the same time, their time on patient care activities went from 26% up to 59%. The Board then made the change permanent.
Pharmacy is one of the few professions that touches the lives of 95% of the U.S. population, making it a critical healthcare access point for Americans. Technicians are crucial to meeting that need. Giving technicians a seat at the table on state boards gives them a voice, and utilizing technicians to their fullest capabilities is good for the pharmacy team, the bottom line and better patient care.