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The Good Teacher

Teaching is difficult. Teachers — especially the great teachers, they just don’t receive enough credit. I have actively been teaching a non credit pharmacy technician class the past 8 weeks, while also performing Preceptor duties for 4th year Pharmacy School students.

What have I learned while doing both simultaneously? 

Obviously the biggest difference is that teaching in the community pharmacy is a more hands on experience in that there’s real life scenarios and people versus teaching in the classroom where there’s only the lecturer, student, book, and  white board/chalk board to convey the message.

In the classroom there’s the “audience effect”. You’re lecturing, and you can easily become the only speaker if there’s not a question you give your audience to answer.  Thus, you have to exert more of your body and brain energy into focused segments to convey an effective message.

This burden of energy expenditure being on the speaker/lecturer can be lightened only by actively engaging the student by using the white board, computer, or book to create examples and questions of real life scenarios.

Energy expenditure while teaching in the pharmacy is reduced in comparison to the classroom. The drugs, the patients, the real life scenarios are there to be be used as living examples of why the student must study physiology, pharmacology, infectious disease, pharmaceutics, and so on and so forth.

The student can easily view the drug by going to the shelf. They can learn the pharmacology and use of the drug by simply looking at the package insert that comes with the drug. They can observe the practicing pharmacist or pharmacy technician and learn from their behaviors, movements, speech, and thought process in working together as a team to produce the appropriate final product. The examples do not have to be created in the pharmacy — because the examples are there to be observed, studied, learned, and memorized for the present and future use with patients that day and the days ahead.

This accumulation of knowledge by the pharmacy student and pharmacy technician while on externship can produce a foundation of knowledge for how to talk, when to talk, when not to talk, and when to act.

First point… Good teaching isn’t a lecture, it’s a conversation.

Second point… Good teachers find common ground with the student — so that the thoughts expressed by the teacher can be easily understood by the student.

Third point…Good teachers find out what their student’s baseline of knowledge is.  By understanding their current knowledge or lack thereof — the Good teacher can elevate and motivate the student to an appropriate and/or desired level of competency.

Conclusion — I have a long way to go in becoming identified as one of the “good teachers”. However, I’ve identified these three points too consider while playing this role.

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Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

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Answers: Calculate Days Supply Exercise

Review: Calculate Days Supply Exercise

Answers: Answers- Pharmacy Math-Days Supply

**Question 7, the most correct answer would be 28 days because the Lantus vial is a multi dose vial. Multi dose vials are only stable for 28 days once the patient begins using the product.

**Question 10, the answer could be rounded up or down

Why is calculating days supply important? First you don’t want your patients to misuse or abuse their medications. If a Albuterol Inhaler has a days supply based upon calculations for 16 days and the patient is refilling the medication every 5 days, then it’s pretty obvious that their inhaler is being used incorrectly or their asthma isn’t being appropriately managed.

Lastly, calculating days supply is important because of insurance requirements. We will cover billing later — but the gist is that pharmacy technicians play an essential role in ensuring that medications are billed appropriately with the correct days supply being submitted to the Pharmacy Benefit Manager.

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How to determine if a candidate “cares”..

The interview begins—and you have already reviewed the candidate’s resume’. They meet all the qualifications, and even have some excellent references. You hire the candidate, and around six months to one year later after their up and down performance you and the employee decide that it’s best to part ways.

So what happened? The interview went well…check. The references seemed to be great…check. Yet, once the candidate got the job — they had a fatal flaw that was impossible to overcome.

They just didn’t seem to care.

They didn’t care about the customers, didn’t care about their daily performance, didn’t even seem to care about their evaluations… Which ultimately meant that the product they were serving up to your loyal base was average at best. They had just enough good days to make you think maybe it would work out, interspersed with enough bad days to make you shake your head.

It’s pretty weird when you think about it. And naturally, you have to feel a bit disappointed. Typically, I’ll even replay their interview over in my mind; trying to figure out what I missed during my evaluation. Going through this process forces the manager to ask themselves what checkboxes are the most important to be checked before making a commitment to offer the candidate a position.

A few days ago, a colleague reminded me of her words on the hiring process prior to me taking on a management position. She’s held multiple management positions. And she said, “when you hire someone, find a person with good customer service…if the person has good customer service, you can typically work around some of their deficiencies…”

I would add to her statement — that the job candidate’s deficiencies can even be remedied with appropriate teaching and training. So, then the manager must ask themselves, “am I a good enough teacher/trainer to remedy the candidate’s deficiency or do I currently have someone on staff that can be an appropriate educator/mentor for the job candidate?”

I don’t know of any degrees/diplomas to my knowledge that are being conferred by colleges and universities in the field/study of CARING @ WORK. Thus, what questions could be asked to determine if a candidate meets your standards? I guess… you could simply just ask the magical question, “do you care… or will you care? But, unfortunately you will most likely just get a canned answer.

So I suggest going through what-if scenarios with your candidate using a diagram for what you consider to be right and wrong answers for each of your scenarios. This I believe is the best method for gaining a little more insight into determining if a candidate truly possesses the traits required to serve your customer base.

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Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

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How to approach meeting someone for the first time…

So…what do you do for a living?

We all have our canned answers to describe ourselves to the strangers that ask us this question. So…I suppose for a moment, pause and reflect upon the answers you have given throughout the years.

Think of those times you were hesitant to state your job title; and also think of those times you were proud to state your job title. Consider the times you were either happy, sad, or indifferent when someone asked you “what do you do for a living.”   One thing is for certain; professional competence, college diplomas, jobs, and socio-economic status do not correlate to happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

We are all on a wave but each person’s wave has different lengths. Being self aware and cognizant of this fact provides each of us with small boosts to our emotional intelligence score.

The dreaded “first impression” can certainly have different outcomes when you’re able to live in the moment of a conversation instead of replaying canned questions and answers.

If we agree that human beings are much more than job descriptors and titles; consider your own life story…

If someone had to introduce you in front of an audience; would you expect them to come to the microphone and blurt out your job title and degrees… then walk away from the microphone and sit back down?

Maya Angelou famously said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Ultimately, that’s what this blog post is about.

When you meet people for the first time, please let the experience be organic. Leave the canned answers and questions in the pantry closet. I have learned from my own personal experiences that this is an important concept to apply in my life. By making this small decision, it has allowed me to not blindly box people into categories or groups—because everyone has their own story to tell.

When you meet a person for the first time, consider this… those diplomas, job titles, and trophies on the mantle are simply short highlights to the various chapters that fill a person’s unfinished book of life.

Take home statements…

  1. You do have a life outside of your career…reciprocate this truth when meeting people for the first time by not immediately going for the “what do you do for a living” question.
  2. Throw the canned questions and answers in the garbage. They will help your conversations be more refreshing and organic.
  3. Instead of asking people what they do for a living, ask instead, “can you please tell me about yourself?” This allows people to have a moment of reflection. They then have an opportunity to decide if they would like to tell you their personal story.

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Author, Sam Blakemore, August 4, 2017.