Pharmacy technician training update 2021

In Jan 2020 I submitted documentation to the Alabama Board of Pharmacy to have a board approved program at Lawson State Community College. This program was approved and is entitled “Non Credit Pharmacy Technician Program at Lawson State”.

I now have an additional program which follows the same format entitled “Alabama Pharmacy Tech”. The content for both programs is now housed at the following website: http://alabamapharmacytech.com

The classes meet virtually utilizing “Google Meet”. There are 14 modules currently to complete, 10 quizzes, and one final exam. Both courses primary intent are to give future/current pharmacy technicians access to both the practicing pharmacist and certified pharmacy technician. Emphasis is placed on technicians becoming competent in the day to day processes and workflows of a “community pharmacy”.

If you or another person is interested in completing an ALBOP approved pharmacy technician course please feel free to contact us at alabama.pharmacytech@gmail.com

In your message please state in the subject line: Enrollment request. In the body of the email state the following: name, current city and state, current registration status with ALBOP (registered or not registered), and the reason why you want to be a pharmacy tech. Once enrolled you have 6 weeks to complete the course.

Currently there are slots available through the Lawson State program that are “free”. Thus, I’m not charging currently. I will simply take your email and forward it to Lawson State while spots are available and they will determine if you qualify for this opportunity. Session one just completed last week for me. And we are looking to have session 2 sometime in September.

Best of luck!

Pharmacy pearls.. blog#1

Intranasal midazolam and diazepam are now commercially available. You may notice increased demand from your prescribers for these products because patients may feel that the nasal formulation is less intrusive in comparison to rectal diazepam.

Also many providers may choose to use these products instead of diazepam rectal gel because of administration concerns… as the nasal formulations are deemed easier to administer by caregivers and/or school nurses.

Pharmacists, be careful when dispensing the 15mg and 20mg intranasal diazepam products — please note that each intranasal dose is 7.5mg per nostril for the 15mg product and 10mg per nostril for the 20mg product. This can be somewhat confusing initially as the 5mg and 10mg products do not follow the same pattern of being one-half of the listed dose per nostril (please read package insert to better understand).

Lastly, please refer to the package inserts of each product to ensure dosing is appropriate. In particular for pediatric patients. Please ensure that your prescribers directions are accurate, and that your patients and caregivers understand how to administer the product. Access to these products may be slower than normal due to the pandemic; thus make sure your patients know which pharmacies in their community dispense the product, so that they can make informed decisions prior to and after discharge from the hospital.

FDA guidance intranasal diazepam

FDA guidance intranasal midazolam

***Note: Please refer to the FDA package inserts, your pharmacy’s drug information resources, your state board of pharmacy policies, and your clinical judgement prior to dispensing. And if you still have further questions please never hesitate to contact the drug manufacturer. Information in this blog post does not substitute for your own clinical judgement. ***

***Patients, please discuss all medical and pharmacy options with your physician. This blog post does not substitute for an individual one on one consultation with your physician. In all cases of emergency please always call 911***

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

Healthy Dose Interview

The Healthy Dose ®, is a radio show/podcast hosted by Anthony Bolus, PharmD.

On 12/17/2020 the episode entitled “Flavor or not to Flavor: Getting kids to take their medications” was published, and I was fortunate to appear as Anthony’s featured guest. When I listened to the finished product, I could really tell the effort Anthony puts forth into the production of this show; the quality of his podcast is excellent!

I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with him, and it’s great to see a pharmacist like himself continue to push the profession forward through his practice of podcasting.

You can view the episode at the following links:

Anchor.fm website

Spotify

iTunes

After you review that episode, please also take the time to view the bank of podcasts Anthony has taken the time to produce in the past!

Thanks for your time!

___

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

Business blog series — blog #1

February 2016 I wrote an email to Tony Hsieh who at the time was the CEO of Zappos. I read articles and viewed videos where he discussed his philosophies on business and the management of people while completing my studies for my MBA.

Of the topics he discussed, The Quit Now Bonus fascinated me the most. The idea was that you would give employees an incentive to quit immediately if they felt as though they were trapped or in search of professional opportunities elsewhere.

From a business perspective this killed two birds with one stone. The business would relinquish an employee that no longer wanted to work at the company on good terms with a bonus payment to help them transition to the next phase of their professional life.

From the employees perspective, you couldn’t blame the employer for not giving you an out. And from the employer’s perspective — they couldn’t be seen as trapping you in a contract that you couldn’t get out of. In effect, employers would be helping the employee secure opportunities elsewhere — perhaps even in another state or country by giving you a “quit bonus”.

Thus, from the very beginning, if you took a job at Zappos, there was an unspoken understanding that the relationship was built on the terms of mutual benefit.

Employees would be compensated at a fair wage and benefits and the employer had expectations that you would provide excellent performance and service. If at any point there was a breakdown in trust, and the employee felt they needed to move on professionally, you would give them the incentive to leave immediately rather than languish on with poor performance.

I never expected an email back from Tony, but I wanted to leave him a note thanking him for his efforts. He was letting his ideas become openly shared for public consumption. Which isn’t the easiest thing to do. And because of his ideas and efforts, he was making the lives of business leaders that much more easy by rendering us pieces of his “playbook” on how to manage people.

The toughest thing that you can do in any business is the management of people. Building a motivated workforce that can meet the daily demands of customers while providing excellent communication and customer service is difficult. And, I felt that Tony was running a business in which he understood that building a happy workforce that did not feel trapped or constrained was a key ingredient in building a successful brand and therefore a successful business.

Two weeks later, Tony’s chief of communications emailed me back. He thanked me for my encouraging words and offered me Tony ‘s book for free. The book that he wrote is entitled Delivering Happiness: a path to profits, passion, and purpose.

Sadly, Tony Hsieh passed away November 27, 2020. However, his legacy and achievements in the business world live on. His business philosophies on how to effectively manage people will certainly be studied and mimicked by future business leaders.

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

“Our thoughts.. create our realities”

In my previous post I discussed a mnemonic that I’ve begun to use to stay focused on maximizing my daily activities. I’m also currently listening to the audiobook Atomic Habits. I’ve only started it recently, but it’s definitely a good audio book to have. You can listen to it while completing tasks around your home. I thoroughly enjoy self help books, and the genre typically manifests itself into one overarching theme.

That theme as you may have guessed it, is that your thoughts create your realities. And that once you begin to accept that outlook; you can manifest yourself into the person you believe yourself to be. Your family understands you to be that person, your friends, your peers, even strangers will begin to see you as the person whom you recognize yourself to be.

What’s great about the book Atomic Habits, is that the author gives us a framework for how these subconscious ideas of who we think we are set the foundation for the habits we begin to take on in keeping with this identity.

As I’ve state previously, DR. CC provides me with a gentle reminder to hold firm in the notion that dependability, reliability, consistency, and seeing things to completion are the necessary habits to take the thoughts I have about who I am, and turn these thoughts into positive outcomes and performances.

In short, examine your thoughts. Because this is the first step in altering your current reality. Put the appropriate inputs into your mind, to create the outputs you desire; because simply put…you are who you believe yourself to be.

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

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Chesca (Pargo) Barnett, PharmD — 10/30/20

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Chesca (Pargo) Barnett, PharmD — 10/30/20
Welcome to the 2020 edition of Profiles in Pharmacy.
Chesca Barnett is an inpatient staff Pharmacist for Children’s of Alabama, and has been with Children’s of Alabama for over 12 years. She is a 2001 graduate of the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy  and received her B.S. degree from the United States Air Force Academy.
I met Chesca in 2012 while on 4th year rotations at Children’s. I began my first job as a Pharmacist working under her leadership in the fall of 2012. For me personally, her knowledge and leadership in the practice of pediatric pharmacy has been an invaluable resource throughout my career.
Chesca has a high “Pharmacy Practice IQ”, and can tell you various pieces of information about pharmacy practice at an instant. Her vast knowledge, leadership, and background have made her an important contributor to the Practice of Pharmacy in the state of Alabama.
It is an honor to have her answer a few questions for the “Profiles in Pharmacy” series. I am grateful that she has granted the readers an opportunity to gain more insight about her knowledge, background, and career.
  • I met you while on my last rotation in 2012. Over the years I’ve learned about your background, and to me you have a fascinating biography. Can you tell the readers about your personal journey towards earning a Doctor of Pharmacy, and your initial experiences as a practicing Pharmacist. How has your journey impacted your approach to providing patient care?

My journey definitely has twists and turns.  I had always dreamed of being an astronaut.  From the age of 6 to the age of 21 when I was told I couldn’t fly at the USAFA,  Since  I was dead set on being an astronaut what a difficult situation to deal with at a young adult age.  When I started my active military duty I was assigned to be a pharmacy technician at Langley AFB and I discovered this whole industry of pharmacy.  The pharmacist I worked with encouraged me and I was lucky enough to have a pharmacy school in my hometown, The University of Toledo. 

 After I got a medical discharge thanks to a motorcycle accident that left me with a broken pelvis that did not fuse correctly,  I applied to the University of Toledo School of Pharmacy.  I returned to school as a divorced single mom who lived in a motel for a year.  

After 6 years of pre-pharm and pharmacy school, I emerged from the University of Toledo as a full fledged Doctor of Pharmacy.   Reflecting back, my school experience was  a  very positive  one.  The College of Pharmacy staff was very supportive and helpful.  They really did help me to make good decisions that prepared me to be a proactive member of a healthcare team. I think this foundation as well as the experience I received from the military and internships in different environments (hospital, retail and long term care) gave me a great base to start my career. 

  • You have the personality in which you don’t meet strangers. Did this initially translate to your pharmacy practice? Did you always feel this confident when you first started practicing; or have you gained more and more confidence with each year of practice?

I think being what is considered a nontraditional student and an older student definitely impacted my approach to health care.  Having needed ongoing healthcare due to my broken pelvis, being a mom of a child who had asthma and then later having one with a  bleeding disorder,  my experiences with   various aspects of  health care  helped shaped my attitude towards performing as  a pharmacist.  I knew before I finished school that I wanted to be a pediatric pharmacist and I tried to get as much experience as I could while in school. I also had an incredible mentor Dr. Cindy Dusik whose passion for pediatric pharmacy was extremely contagious.  She made it very clear to me that the path I had chosen — I would need to tread very carefully and I would need to have the utmost attention to detail. 

Thank goodness the “military way” of doing pharmacy helped prepare me for this as well.  Passion, commitment, and determination were all in my DNA.  These aligned with the main pillars of pharmacy.  To ethically and responsibly serve those who are in need of our help and our compassion.

As you know, I never really meet strangers, just someone that I have to find the line of commonality with.  I think it becomes easier with experience.  I think the military definitely helps with this as  there is always someone new to get to know so you get plenty of practice.  My confidence in my ability to find the right answer definitely grew with experience.  I was lucky that I had the military experience because technicians in the military dispense which is reserved for pharmacists in the civilian sector; so as a young pharmacist, I definitely had a little more confidence, but since I was taking care of pediatric patients that confidence was always tempered with cautiousness.   I was told that as a pediatric pharmacist it would take a year to become familiar and 5 years to be good and that’s  pretty much the case.  Even now, I am grateful that I have a great team that I work with that helps to make sure I am making the best decision.  Experience truly helps you appreciate having a team that is all moving in the same direction. 

  • You’ve practiced pharmacy in both the hospital and retail pharmacy settings; how has your life circumstances, background, and education helped you navigate the in’s and out’s of both pharmacy leadership and effectively formulating rationale clinical recommendations to pharmacy peers, physicians, and nurses? 

I had the opportunity to serve as Supervisor of Operations for several years at the hospital I currently work at.  In order to help the department go through several transitions, I had to use all the tools I had in my toolbox and learn some new ones. 

 I was challenged to learn how to negotiate, understand and compromise over and over again.  I had to take a few classes in order to hone these skills.  It did not always come easily.  I had to work with several different teams that had different sets of goals and I often had to teach others how the pharmacy department would fit into those processes.  

Within the department we had to establish new processes and of course change is always difficult.  I had to learn how to work with the team in order to make sure all needs were being met.  I had to use what I learned about leading from USAFA, UofT, the military and life.  Every life lesson that you learned will be challenged when you are trying to get things done with a team of people.  You will find there may be multiple ways to get to an endpoint, but you can only work with the resources that you have.  You learn to be flexible and adaptable and at the end of the day, you win as long as the whole team gets to the goal safely.    One thing I always focused on was the people.  It was important to me to make sure my staff understood that they were important and that we supported them.  Work life balance was very important.  When working with a multigenerational staff, it was important to understand the different requirements of the different age groups from the standpoint of the personnel that were chosen.  I always had an open door policy and I made it clear that they had access to me whenever they needed it.  I was extremely devoted to my staff and in return I had a staff that performed well.

  • What advice would you give new grads in helping them earn the trust and respect of both their patients and peers? What things can they do to remain relevant and stay confident in their pharmacy practice?

My advice to new grads is simple, first find a place that fits who you are and do the type of pharmacy that you want to do.  Then find a place where the people hold the same principles.  The work  is the work, at the end of the day; it’s the people you work with that usually make a workplace great.  

When starting a job, acknowledge that you are a rookie pharmacist.  You have a few tools in your toolbag but you need so many more in order to perform your job well.  Listen and learn.  There is something to learn in every encounter.  Keep performing self evaluations to check your personal progress.  

Take advantage of learning opportunities and make sure you always position yourself for success.  Network and talk to people who are doing the things you want to do.  This is important to make sure you are moving in the direction you truly want to go.  Pharmacy is a very close knit industry.  Everyone knows everyone and news travels extremely fast so make sure you protect your “brand”.

  • You’ve taught multiple pharmacy technician courses throughout your career. You’ve helped countless young men and women enter the pharmacy technician profession. How has educating pharmacy technicians helped you develop a greater understanding of the profession? Do you foresee pharmacy technicians gaining a greater role in pharmacy practices across the United States? 

The work of the pharmacy technician is extremely important in this industry.  I think because of starting as a technician, this aspect of the industry is personal.  When I got the opportunity to teach the pharmacy technician program at a local community college 11 years ago, I definitely thought it was a great and important opportunity.  I understand that a technician makes or breaks a pharmacy.  So my hope was to those who were interested in this industry, I wanted to be a positive influence and work hard to make sure they understood the requirements of the industry and what this profession could do for them personally.  Because I have worn so  many hats personally and professionally, and I am truly interested in helping people be the best versions of themselves, I try to bring a perspective that  lets them know, I see them as a person and let’s work together to help you meet your goals.  

The role of the technician is becoming more technical across the states.  More is being required of technicians so that they can fulfill the changing requirements. Teaching technicians forces me to stay abreast of industry trends and changes.  I see the changes as a good impact. The changes bring different opportunities for technicians to work in different aspects on the team.   Giving them more responsibility is going to help the pharmacy  be more efficient.  The industry is recognizing that a well trained technician is a truly valuable part of the team. There are more requirements for education and certification.    I am a huge proponent of growing the role so that it is more of a terminal job. 

  • As a person that’s been in the seat of hiring and firing. What skills do pharmacy students need to focus on while in pharmacy school to separate themselves from the pack? With the decrease in demand for Pharmacists in the market, what suggestions would you give to both new grads and recently laid off Pharmacists that are looking for jobs in this tight market? 

That’s a great question.  I think the new grads definitely have to be more strategic and flexible in their job planning.  They may have to look at locations that do not have a pharmacy school in order to gain the experience they desire to have.  I would also suggest that they take advantage of the new educational opportunities like dual PharmD and MBA or JD programs. 

 Also make sure they are networking and taking the time to meet people that are in decision making roles during their rotations.  Talk to the classes that have recently graduated and ask them for their input as to the industry and what would they do differently to prepare.  I have met several pharmacists after working in one aspect of industry and have decided to make changes.  

This can be very challenging.  I think industry wide, it is difficult to get a hospital position after working for years in retail.  I think it’s important to stay current on what changes are going on in the other parts of the industry.  Earning certificates in the aspect of pharmacy you are interested in will definitely speak to your dedication and determination to stay current.  Take advantage of opportunities to network.  Join your local organizations.  Don’t give up.  It may be difficult but keep working to find the change that you need for your life.

  • You’ve helped thousands of patients throughout your years of practice. What has been your ultimate goal in your practice of pharmacy? What keeps you pressing forward during the tough days at the pharmacy?

This year marks thirty years that I have worked in this industry.  It doesn’t feel that long but the numbers don’t lie unfortunately.  I have seen many changes in the industry and I am excited about the changes that are coming. Watching our industry get more technological has been a lot of fun.  I have always liked gadgets and tech so this aspect has been a lot of fun.

Even though I have been in the industry for a while, I never think that I am near the end of my career.  I enjoy seeing the changes, the breakthroughs, the advancements.  There is always a new aspect to learn or work through.  It also fits my personality.  I like solving problems and helping people so it makes sense to me.   

I still look at the industry with awe and wonder.  It challenges me and it has afforded me a great career and allowed me to do some really cool things personally. I’ve enjoyed working in different aspects of the industry.  I have gotten to teach, speak, supervise and even review a couple of new gadgets. I’ve gotten to work and meet some really great people and I like to think that I have helped a few folks along the way.  That’s what keeps me going forward.  To whom much is given, much is required, and I still have a lot to do.

  • You are a world traveler. Do you geek out over pharmacy memorabilia during your travels? How has travelling affected your outlook on pharmacy practice back here in the United States.  

I love to travel. I have visited a few pharmacies as I’ve traveled, sometimes out of necessity. Luckily generic names are very similar everywhere.  I don’t necessarily collect pharmacy memorabilia but I have grabbed a mortar and pestle or two. The pharmacy industry is highly regulated here in the states so as far as practice goes, we are in a great place.  Some other places have been more aggressive at incorporating technology in their operations, however, we are starting to change here when the technology definitely adds layers of safety to our practice. 

  • Anything else you have to add for the readers? Freestyle questions and/or statements. 

After all these years, I still see pharmacy as a good career choice.  There are a lot of opportunities that are afforded working in this industry.  Direct practice, research, academia, IT etc…..I have been blessed to have formed a great team and great relationships that make serving in this industry very rewarding. 

 

 

Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Allana Alexander, PharmD — 10/28/20

Profiles in Pharmacy — a conversation with Allana Alexander, PharmD — 10/28/20
Welcome to the 2020 edition of Profiles in Pharmacy.
Allana Alexander, PharmD is a 2014 graduate of Samford’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy. Most recently she completed her Master’s Degree in Medication Therapy Management at the University of Florida in 2016. She is the owner of A² Pharmacy Solutions and is the Pharmacy Director for Viva Health. I’ve enjoyed talking with Allana over the years, and I’m grateful that she has given me the opportunity to write a profile on her.
1) When did you realize that you wanted to be a Pharmacist?
I always knew I wanted to help people but was unsure in what capacity. In my first year of undergrad, I took an overview course and learned the basics of various health professions. Once the course was finished, I decided a career in pharmacy was the path for me.
 
2) When you were in pharmacy school, did you consider pharmacy entrepreneurship to be an option?
I did not consider entrepreneurship until after I graduated pharmacy school. Once I realized my purpose, I knew pharmacy entrepreneurship was the path I needed to take to fulfill that purpose.
 
3) Who are the Pharmacists that have influenced you the most and why?
I have been most influenced by Mr. Eugene Walker and Dr. Pilar Murphy. Mr. Walker is the first pharmacist I remember. He worked for Eckerd Drugs in my hometown. My mother was the Assistant Manager and when we would visit her store, Mr. Walker was always extra kind. My mother spoke of him in high regard and that was the first time I remember being introduced into the world of pharmacy. I reconnected with him during my third year of undergrad. I interviewed for a job with a pharmacist in my hometown and Mr. Walker was there! He wasn’t physically working but I think he may have been there in a consultant capacity. Dr. Pilar Murphy was one of my preceptors in pharmacy school. After graduation she became one of my go-to pharmacists for advice. She showed so much compassion and kindness to me as a student and after graduation. She is the epitome of going above and beyond for her patients and people. Since the first night I heard her speak at a PERC conference, I’ve aspired to emulate the same level of compassion and kindness.
 
4) What would you like the readers to know about you? And what would you like readers to know about your pharmacy practice and the services you are currently providing to the community?
I enjoy reading and hiking and my new hobby (thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) is gardening. I am the owner of A² Pharmacy Solutions LLC, a boutique pharmacy that offers healthcare conference consulting and speaking services and community education. I love creating digital content on social media, YouTube and on my podcast, The Rx Factor. You can find me on all social media: @doctorlany. New episodes every Saturday of The Rx Factor Podcast on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcast apps. New videos every Friday on the Doctor Lany YouTube page.
 
5) What would you tell students currently in pharmacy school? What services do you foresee these students offering in the years to come?
 Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled and create your own niche in pharmacy. Also, the pharmacy world is very small so don’t forget the golden rule!
 
6) Freestyle question… Tell us the readers what you want us to know.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. It is the grand finale. Live life for yourself and be content with your decisions for the day. You won’t always win but do not be afraid to try. Be open-minded. Read a book. Beyond what you know to be “right” and “true” is a sea of other “rights” and “truths”.