Saturday, June 12, 2010

Work in Progress

Most of my readers are my "friends" on Facebook and already know most of the goings-on in my life, but for those who do not, here is some more information about the work that has been going on, well, at work.

I passed my PTCE (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam) on May 1st, and got my results about two weeks later in the mail. I earned a weighted score of 830 out of 900, which when compared to a standard 100-point scale gives me an A-! I was really proud of myself for doing well, since I obviously was well-prepared and had great mentors (my two pharmacists) to help me.

Now that I am certified, I can do more within the pharmacy. I am now able to take prescriptions over the phone from doctors and give/receive transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies. Of course, everything I do is still overseen by the pharmacist-on-duty, but just the fact that I can be more helpful is a good thing. I am learning a lot more about the various and sundry drugs that exist out there in the pharmaceutical world, and let me tell you, there are a lot of them.

One of the problems, however, that arises when taking prescriptions over the phone is trying to understand what the person is saying. The actual doctor will almost never call in the prescription themselves (I have only gotten one from the doctor herself), which means you are usually talking to the nurse or the receptionist. Nurses are, for the most part, very knowledgeable about drugs, but receptionists, on the other hand, may or may not be well-informed. Now, there are three types of calls that we will take regarding phoned-in prescriptions, whether they are taken live or from voicemail (I have only taken voicemails so far):

1. The caller speaks clearly and slowly, spelling out the patient's name and the drug(s) prescribed, and perhaps the doctor's name if it is difficult, and leaves a phone number or other contact information. These messages I usually have to listen to twice to get everything since I am still new to this, but that's still pretty good.

2. The caller is a "speed demon" that wants to get everything done fast and NOW! This is usually because there is a stack of scripts that need to be called in and the person is either getting ready to leave or to go to lunch. This person speeds through everything quickly, usually in less than a minute, and I will need to listen to this message a minimum of 4 times to get everything.

3. The caller is uninformed or otherwise ignorant about the drugs being prescribed, and perhaps even the patient for whom they are prescribed. The name of the patient and the name of the drug will be mispronounced, the person stutters when reading off the SIG codes (the abbreviations used to describe the dosage schedule, etc), and perhaps the drugs and directions are utterly incomprehensible. This might take two of us listening to it several times to decipher what is going on there.

So, I am learning more about how to take these messages effectively, and for now am having the pharmacists review my written scripts, since everything must be written down in order to have a hard copy and paper trail.

Recently, I was given extra hours in the pharmacy as a result of our increased business. I had originally been given only 10 hours a week, in which I spent just a couple hours during my five-day work week in the pharmacy. The remainder of my hours I got from working a cash register or whatever else the managers needed me to do. I hate, HATE that arrangement! I wish I could get all my hours in the pharmacy (and I will this fall once our store's renovations are complete), but for now I have to run around like a chicken with it's head cut off to find something to do. My hours were increased to 20 per week, so now I have two 8-hour days and three days with the same "normal" schedule. I just need to be more patient about the hours, since I really do want them, but as Kathy would say, I digress.

The other major task I took within the past few weeks was to incorporate all of our inventory into alphabetical order. Before our manager started, everything was shelved according to alphabetical order of the brand name drug, which was difficult since many of our drugs haven't been brand name for a decade or more. The inventory was then changed to straight alphabet before I started in January, but there were still special sections for liquids, injections, inhalation drugs (mostly for asthma), trans-dermal systems, and drugs used in the ears, eyes, and nose. I incorporated everything but the ears, eyes, and nose drugs (since it is easier to keep those together) into our shelves, which was a great undertaking, but also helped the pharmacy manager create a hormone/prenatal vitamin section, since those products change so quickly and have so many various forms. By doing all of these changes, we hoped that any visitor (fill-in pharmacist or technician) would be able to find exactly what they needed quickly to serve the patients.

So, as you can see, there has been a lot of work in progress for me. The next chapter in this story involves filling in at one of the other Ingles pharmacies in the Knoxville area for a few Saturdays this summer, while their technicians take vacations. Fortunately for me, this will take away the amount of hours I will spend running a cash register, etc., I will get more experience, and I will also be paid mileage for my travel (approx. 25 miles one-way)! Win, win, win for Sean. At any rate, I am looking forward to finally being full-time this fall, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time in this new position. Who would have thunk it that I would enjoy a job so much that I didn't even know I wanted?!