<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=26961&amp;fmt=gif">

In the first episode of OnScript with National Healthcareer Association, host Jeremy Sasser and Pharmacy Podcast Network founder Todd Eury discuss the size and value of the pharmacy technician workforce. Because the healthcare industry, especially pharmacy, has evolved in the past two decades, the role of the pharmacy technician has become more important to the workflow of pharmacies. Sasser and Eury discuss the wide variety of opportunities now available for pharmacy technicians who want to continue to grow in their role as a professional pharmacy technician.

Tune in to hear the inaugural episode of OnScript and subscribe below to get future episodes delivered directly to your inbox.

About the Host

Jeremy Sasser, pharmacy content strategist at the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), works to give a voice for pharmacy technicians, forecasts trends in content and education, and continually advocates for patient safety. Sasser has dedicated his professional career to the pharmacy industry, supporting education, certification and championing opportunities for technicians overall.

He began working in a pharmacy during high school where he found a flexible, part-time job that fit his schedule. Along the way, Sasser developed a true passion for the field and realized the impact pharmacy had on healthcare as a whole. He volunteered to take on more responsibilities, received a promotion and his part-time job became a full-on career path.

After earning his pharmacy technician certification and receiving his Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Sasser was ready to put his years of experience into practice. During this time he began teaching, maintaining that education and quality training play vital roles in the growth of the pharmacy industry.

About the Pharmacy Podcast Network

In March of 2009, Institutional Pharmacy Technology marketing leader, Todd S. Eury, launched the Pharmacy Podcast Show. Over the years, the Pharmacy Podcast has accumulated over 67,000+ listeners and subscribers and is the most popular and downloaded podcast about the Pharmacy Industry. The Pharmacy Podcast Show transformed into the Pharmacy Podcast Network (PPN) in 2016 and will continue to collect the thought leading interviews with some of the most brilliant minds in Pharmacy with over 25 co-hosts.


Full Transcript of Episode 1

Speaker 1:
You're listening to the Pharmacy Podcast Network.

Speaker 2:
This is On-Script hosted by Jeremy Sasser, a podcast publication partnership between the Pharmacy Podcast Network and National Health Career Association. Our podcast is dedicated to providing the pharmacy technician workforce with news, real life stories and discussions that can impact personal and professional growth. Here is certified pharmacy technician and National Health Career Association content strategist, your host, Jeremy Sasser. Let's get On-Script with NHA.

Todd Eury:
Pharmacy Podcast nation, this is the founder of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, Todd Eury. Today, a launch of a podcast that I have been wanting to put together for quite some time. There's about 289,000 active pharmacists in the United States today, 289,000 that comes from labor and statistic, and those numbers that I'm referencing are 2017. Well, guess what people? There are nearly and probably over 500,000 pharmacy technicians. So the evolution and the transformation of pharmacy is definitely in the hands of pharmacists, but guess who's supporting them in the trenches day after day, growing knowledge in the profession with many of these pharmacy technicians being certified pharmacy technicians and wanting to do more in their careers? We're excited to welcome your new host, part of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, Jeremy Sasser, welcome to the Pharmacy Podcast Network.

Jeremy Sasser:
Thank you so much, Todd, for having me. I am super excited about launching this podcast.

Todd Eury:
I am too, and like I said, we know pharmacy is changing. We know that fee for service is going to be transferred to value based outcomes. We know that pharmacogenomics, we know technology, diabetes management, medication adherence, medication synchronization, all these fun buzz words, artificial intelligence, Alexa, Amazon, PillPack. So many things happening in the world and sometimes we get into conversations and in content, we're seeing things happening in the news, and who's humming and who's drumming the beat of pharmacy, and the day after day and supporting our pharmacists. Pharmacists swear by their right hand men and women. That is the pharmacy technician. That is why the Pharmacy Technician Podcast is such an important part of what is the Pharmacy Podcast Network.

Todd Eury:
So before we get started, we need to hear about Jeremy Sasser. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jeremy. In the cold weather, I'm glad you're suffering just like I am in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today. I think it's 30 degrees and icy and snowy and crappy outside, and you said you were going through the same thing in Kansas City, so good misery loves company. Jeremy Sasser, tell us about yourself.

Jeremy Sasser:
All right, thanks so much. So I've been a certified pharmacy technician since 2001, and quite honestly, I got into pharmacy on accident. I started back in Arizona when I was still just a youngster in high school, 16, no licensing required, no certification required, as it was kind of like the Wild Wild West. So the regulatory space, the workforce, the advancement, a lot has happened, a lot has changed since 2000 for sure. It was great working in a pharmacy through college. I successfully sidestepped having to do anything in the service industry. Shout out to those who have done that. That is a tough job. But being able to work in a pharmacy and kind of marry, if you will, my formal education with what I was doing was really fantastic for me. It opened up a lot of doors for me. I also taught for a pharmacy technician program, I was the director of a program at a community college in Arizona.

Jeremy Sasser:
During this time, I worked with Albertsons and kind of climbed their career ladder, or kind of made my own career ladder with Albertsons, worked with their corporate pharmacy operations, did some stuff with managed care. Ultimately, before landing here at the National Health Career Association, I managed the specialty pharmacy offering that Albertsons had up in Boise.

Todd Eury:
So you're entrepreneurial as a pharmacy technician, you're a certified pharmacy technician as well, right?

Jeremy Sasser:
Yeah, absolutely.

Todd Eury:
So I look out to the marketplace, I've met pharmacy technicians who own pharmacies, I've met techs who are very political. I've met several who transitioned from retail, to long term care, to specialty, even some of the health system pharmacy techs, that the opportunities, I think, for pharmacy technicians today are more than what they were 10 years ago because of the evolution of pharmacy in and of itself. But it's the, I don't want to overuse the word hustler, but it's really the person that's aggressive about their career that I'm talking about. I'm not talking about someone who doesn't continue their education, that doesn't think outside the box, that's not reading, that's not thinking about the business and about their career. If you're not like that, there's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with just going to work, and punching your time card, and doing a good job and coming home.

Todd Eury:
But because of my personality, and because of this network and because of the entrepreneurial feeling and acumen and action of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, and who we talk with, and who sponsors us and who our hosts are, every single one of them are dynamic people that are just pushing the envelope and wanting to change things. You advocate that, Jeremy. You and I have had conversations before. The organization that's going to help support the Pharmacy Technician Podcast is very entrepreneurial. Give us some background and the organization that you're part of that really is helping to advance education for the pharmacy technician, the National Healthcare Association, the National Health Career Association. Give us some background on the NHA.

Jeremy Sasser:
Sure, yeah. NHA is a provider of one of the national certifications for pharmacy technicians. So NHA administers, develops, maintains the ExCPT exam, which is widely accepted in almost all states across the United States. I think we're down to one state and they're currently reviewing to accept us, so that was really kind of the start of NHA into the pharmacy technician space. What makes us a little bit different is that in addition to that certification, we have a strong want to advocate for the workforce, so we get heavily involved in the regulatory side. We watch a lot of what's going on in individual states and we're really pushing for the further advancement of pharmacy technician practice, educating the pharmacy technician, providing advanced skills and really just trying to help further professionalize the pharmacy technician workforce.

Jeremy Sasser:
If I had one main goal for this podcast, it would really be to elucidate the opportunities that currently exist out there, but also pharmacy technicians taking ownership to create their own opportunities. That comes about from getting involved in state pharmacy associations, maybe even starting their own groups on social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, things like that. Really just want to provide more opportunity for pharmacy technicians out there and make them realize that there is more than just counting tablets and putting them into vials. There is a lot of opportunity out there.

Todd Eury:
I'm going to reference an exact situation that we've been talking about from a multitude of different hosts, about being entrepreneurial in pharmacy in order to use that entrepreneurial spirit to do more for yourself and your own career, but also more for the patient, more for the community. One of those is Zaneta Jones, who's one of my followers and listeners. Zaneta is a certified pharmacy technician and she has a prescription delivery service that is growing. I love watching her on a Instagram and what she's doing, prescription delivery as growing her side business. Just like I said, there's pharmacy technicians out there who co-own pharmacies, own pharmacies, are in technology, are doing things from really being involved in their careers and the industry far beyond just showing up and doing your work as a technician.

Todd Eury:
But let's focus just for a second, Jeremy, on the certification. If you're going to be a career pharmacy technician, I want you to give me three reasons why you wouldn't get your certified pharmacy technician, your CPHT? Three reasons why you wouldn't if you wanted to be a career pharmacy technician. That's a hard question but I bet you can handle it.

Jeremy Sasser:
Yeah, I mean, that is kind of a tough question. I don't envision too many states going forward not requiring some sort of certification or education, training, something along those lines. I don't imagine there are going to be too many states in the near future that no longer require that. There are a couple of holdout states that don't require certification or education, but really, it would only be a small fraction of the total technician population that wouldn't require certification. But I'll tell you, even in those states that exist that don't require certification, it's oftentimes the employers seeing the value in that certification, and so they're really pushing their technicians to get certified even though it may not necessarily be a requirement.

Jeremy Sasser:
There are some states that recognize some pharmacy personnel that do not need to be certified, but they, for lack of a better term, handcuff what those employees can and can't do, and not being certified in those states that have those non-certified pharmacy positions really limits you to just being a cashier and ringing people up. So I guess if that was your jam, and you love just ringing people up and being a cashier but in a pharmacy, I guess that would be a reason not to get certified.

Jeremy Sasser:
But again, from my experience, oftentimes technicians are becoming technicians on accident. They get into the pharmacy thinking I'm just going to be a cashier, I'm just here helping out. I was working in a different part of the drug store, the grocery store, and then they get back there, and they start seeing pharmacy practice and they start interacting more with patients, customers, viewing the customers that they see all the time through a different lens now, as patients. More often than not, that is a catalyst for them wanting to learn more, wanting to go down the path of certification, wanting to get more involved in the other aspects of a pharmacy practice.

Todd Eury:
I agree. So I didn't think you were going to come up with three reasons because it was kind of a loaded question, and that is if you're in this, you're working six hours, eight hours, 12 hours a day, this is what you do and you want to move in your career, you like being a technician, the people that you work with value your input, your camaraderie, your effectiveness, your productivity in the pharmacy. I hear from pharmacists that I talk with all the time, I'm headed to a national conference this coming week that will have a sector just dedicated to networking with pharmacy technicians, which I'm excited about. There is opportunities out there. You just have to, number one, do things like you said, Jeremy, a little bit creative out of the box, form a LinkedIn group, go on to Reddit and go to the pharmacy sector and make conversations with other pharmacy technicians. Get involved in social media and trend what they're saying about pharmacy techs, or hashtag pharmacy, or hashtag pharmacy technician, and really start looking outside of your own community. Look what's happening nationally.

Todd Eury:
Look at the opportunities in technology, in pharmacy technicians being more integrated into the operation of how pharmacy is transforming to value based. There's data analytics out there that pharmacy technicians crunch numbers all day in health system pharmacies, and specialty pharmacies where REMS reporting is critical for tracking the effectiveness of a drug therapy. So there is no limit to opportunity, but it's definitely not going to just come fall on your lap unless you're out there actively looking to do something beyond what you're doing today, if you're not satisfied with your career. If you're satisfied with your career, then by all means, just keep doing it. There's nothing wrong with that. You know we need block and tackle pharmacy technicians doing nothing but pharmacy technician work, and if that's fulfilling to you, that is awesome. Like, high five, you need to just stay and do exactly that.

Todd Eury:
But if you want to look into pharmacy technician certification, what that means for your career, your credibility, your opportunity to advance, then do it, look into it. You know, Jeremy, I've heard of pharmacy pharmacists, second, third, fourth generation pharmacists who said they started out as pharmacy technicians first, and then became pharmacists. I've also talked with, if you ever remember the name Jeremy Hume, he is a famous pharmacy technician, and he's also a computer programmer, and he's part owner of several pharmacies and very entrepreneurial. But he was talking to me about the evolution of the technician, and this was back in 2008, and from 2008 until 2019, huge opportunity differences of where a pharmacy technician could go. What do you think about the pharmacy technician in different facets of pharmacy? I always break it into five. I say retail, community, long term care, specialty health system or hospitals, and compounding. If you were to pick one of those five, what do you think is one of the hot sectors of pharmacy right now for the certified pharmacy technician?

Jeremy Sasser:
I've looked and when we really think about pharmacy technicians and a potential career ladder, I have been really impressed with the creativity that I'm seeing coming from a lot of healthcare systems, hospital systems. They are really creating and realizing how many different ways they can leverage pharmacy technicians. Case in point, Cedar-Sinai is a hospital system out in LA, out in California. They are an educational institution as well. They have a lot of residents on the medical side, but they have created a novel program where they have a pharmacy technician residency.

Jeremy Sasser:
Hospital systems are getting technicians involved in investigational drug services, sterile compounding, which is something they've always done. But it's not just outpatient pharmacy, it's not just that face to face direct contact with patients that pharmacy technicians are known for. Often, they're the first face that a customer sees or a patient sees, and also the last, but there's so many moving parts going on in the background that pharmacy technicians are getting involved with. I think that's really a product of pharmacists getting more and more involved, as they should, with direct patient care.

Jeremy Sasser:
Given their level of education and what they have to offer to the health care team, if getting involved more directly with patient care just opens up a lot of different pathways for pharmacy technicians to fill in and really help propel the day to day operations, whether it's more of a business role that they're taking on, whether it's more of a training role that they're taking on, managing inventory, what have you. It's exponential in terms of the number of different opportunities, I think, that pharmacy technicians are going to have in the near future.

Todd Eury:
So let's talk about the podcast. What do you want to see? Actually I should say, what do you want to hear as a pharmacy technician yourself? What are you guys going to bring to the table through the network and getting information out to pharmacy technicians or aspiring pharmacy technicians, people who are looking into that career field? Tell us a little bit about what you're going to be bringing to the table through the Pharmacy Technician Podcast.

Jeremy Sasser:
Yeah, I mean, we just really want to engage as much as possible with pharmacy professionals, pharmacy technicians that are going to be listening to the podcast. I think a big thing that we want to seek is feedback and ideas of what pharmacy technicians want to hear, what they want to know about, what they want to talk about. We have a pretty good idea of all of the different issues that pharmacy technicians are dealing with today, but one of the biggest things I think that's missing, and historically has been missing, from the technician workforce is a high level of involvement in the actual industry. Whether those are associations, whether that's engaging with a program like this and just really letting the creativity, the creative juices flow, and helping each other and mentoring. I think the sky's the limit. I have so many ideas of so many things that we want to touch on, that we want to advocate for for the pharmacy technician. I'm excited. My head is spinning just thinking about it.

Todd Eury:
That's great. That's the kind of energy that we want. We want participation, ideas, feedback. Give our listeners a way to reach out to you, Jeremy, just in case they want to talk with you or learn more, maybe even how to get involved and just a reference point for for contact.

Jeremy Sasser:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, I would say the NHA website, www.nhanow.com, is a great place to go to start exploring what NHA has to offer. We offer things outside of just pharmacy technician certification. We are an allied health certification company, so that's a great resource. I can be emailed, contacted as well, at jeremy.sasser@nhanow.com. I'm going to be going, this year, traveling quite a bit to many of the pharmacy trade shows. I would love to see more technicians go into those trade shows, and definitely coming by and saying hi, and just talking to me about their experience. I think the more that we get technicians engaging with each other, with other professionals, kind of describing their pathway, and what they've done and what they like to do and bouncing ideas off of other technicians. How did you deal with this situation? The more of that that we can foster, I think the better. We need to be better as a technician workforce at developing some cohesiveness within so that as a force, as a group, we can really start to make some positive changes.

Todd Eury:
Jeremy, excited about the podcast. The Pharmacy Podcast Network is going to be supporting this through promotion and distribution, but excited to have an expert that can bring very specific issues for us to talk about. I want this to be fun, so anything that you guys can do to spice it up, you're more than welcome to do. I'm going to leave it in your hands, somebody who understands the marketplace, somebody who understands the pharmacy industry and has been around the block. Jeremy, thank you so much for helping us to launch the Pharmacy Technician Podcast and I'm looking forward to hearing your next episode.

Jeremy Sasser:
Todd, thank you so much, and I promise you, we are in this for the fun as well, so we are going to be having a lot of fun with this podcast.

Todd Eury:
There you go, Pharmacy Podcast nation. Jeremy Sasser, that is a launch. Be ready for the next episode to come. Please share this in your social media. Go out to iTunes and give us a rating. Let us know what you think of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, as well as the Pharmacy Technician Podcast. We thank you so much to our listeners, to our supporters and we will see you out there. Our way of getting reach out to us is @PharmacyPodcast via Twitter and Instagram, as well as Pharmacy Podcast on Facebook. If you want to call the show, hey, pick up the phone. It doesn't always have to be about texting and email and snail mail. I mean, snail mail if you want to send us a letter, go ahead. (412) 585-4001, that's (412) 585-4001. Call us, let us know how you're doing and how your pharmacy career is going, and what we could do to help. Once again, Pharmacy Podcast Network, pharmacypodcast.com. Thank you so much for listening to the stage first episode dedicated show to pharmacy technicians. And with that, we're out.

Speaker 2:
Thanks for listening to On-Script, where we cast a spotlight on pharmacy technicians, the services they provide and to the patients they serve. So for all those spatula warriors, TPN ninjas, and leisures of levigation, this podcast is for you. Subscribe at Apple podcast, Spotify, or go to pharmacypodcast.com.

 

email

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG

 Download-Banner3 

Most Popular

  • Nov 7, 2019 6:10:00 AM |
  • Kate Ressler

6 Healthcare Podcasts to Inform and Inspire

  • Oct 24, 2019 11:23:10 AM |
  • Michelle Heller

Busting Myths to Help Save Lives this Flu Season

email

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR BLOG