As a Pharmacy Technician student at Fleming College, I have now completed my first two weeks of placement at Loblaw Pharmacy, the busiest pharmacy in my hometown of Lindsay. The staff which consists of many pharmacy assistants, a Registered Pharmacy Technician (RPhT), who is also my supervisor, and several pharmacists, all work together to keep up with the busy demand of the pharmacy and to serve patients (NAPRA 8.1, 8.2, 8.3).
I have been able to witness the role of a pharmacist, through examples such as therapeutic counseling for patients picking up medications they haven’t used before, giving recommendations for over-the-counter products (NAPRA 8.4.1; 6.1.1), and adjusting a dose which seemed too high for a child’s weight (NAPRA 1.2; 9.2.2, 9.2.3). As well, the pharmacists at Loblaw Pharmacy have embraced their expanded scope of practice and are trained to administer flu shots (NAPRA 5.2.2). I have also seen the role of a RPhT, through my supervisor, who has been an excellent teacher to show me the various aspects of retail pharmacy. She juggles her responsibility of technically checking the many blister packs made each day, with teaching me, handling customers, filling prescriptions and blisters, and problem solving (NAPRA 8).
Upon my introduction to Loblaw Pharmacy, I was familiarized with how the drugs are organized by helping put away an order from McKesson (NAPRA 4.1.1), which also helped refresh my memory on drug names learned in my first year in the Pharmacy Technician program. I was able to see how some drugs are very similar in name which reminded me of sound-alike-look-alike drugs (SALADS) (NAPRA 9.2.2), and I became familiar with drugs that are placed on a fast-movers shelf near the filling work station for easy retrieval, both which were taught in class (NAPRA 4.1.1). I also put away drugs that arrived in coolers and needed to be refrigerated, as part of the cold chain (NAPRA 1.1;9.3.2). With the arrival of narcotics and controlled substances, I was able to see how they are shipped in a separately marked parcel with their own purchase order which must be carefully checked to see if all the ordered drugs were received (NAPRA 9.3.2;9.3.3). I was able to put narcotics away in the safe, and separately file the purchase order for them (NAPRA 4.3). Later, I further saw more laws practiced in regards to narcotics, such as narcotic prescription hardcopies being filed separately from regular prescription hardcopies, narcotics needing a double count and being filed with the Narcotics Monitoring System when being filled, and a customer being informed why they couldn’t transfer narcotics to the pharmacy (NAPRA 1.1).
I was able to select drugs and fill prescriptions using Kroll, however was introduced to a slightly different and updated version of Kroll than used in class, which uses barcode technology to scan in the drug selected before filling, to minimize errors in selecting the wrong drug (NAPRA 4.1.3). By filling prescriptions, I practiced verifying data (NAPRA 3.1.1; 3.1.5), selecting drugs off of the shelf (NAPRA 3.2.3), counting medications (NAPRA 3.2.4), owing patients, splitting labels, and selecting the right sized vial and snap caps if necessary (NAPRA 3.2.5; 3.2.6; 3.2.7). I also was introduced to a scale that barcode scans the drug selected, and determines how many pills are being weighed so there’s no need to count large quantities of pills (NAPRA 3.2.4). I was able to see how billing works (NAPRA 3.1.7), and the use of various drug plans including Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB).
I got to practice entering prescriptions (3.1.1; 3.1.2; 3.1.6), scanning hardcopies (NAPRA 4.3), choosing the generic in stock (NAPRA 3.2.1; 3.2.2), typing in the appropriate days supply with refills (NAPRA 3.1.5), and typing in the correct sig. I got to see that many prescriptions are faxed in (NAPRA 1.5.3), and how difficult some hand written ones can be to decipher (3.1.4).
Another important service Loblaw Pharmacy offers is blister packs, and I was taught how to make them, from selection of appropriate drugs to finished, packaged product to be checked, and I gained an appreciation for the time and effort that goes into meticulously creating blister packs for patients (NAPRA 3.2.).
Overall, I had a great first two weeks on placement, and have gotten to know a friendly pharmacy team who have accepted me and are open to teaching me and answering my questions so I can learn how to have a successful future career in pharmacy.