Pharmacy Technician – A Closer Look

In the not so distant past when you walked into a pharmacy needing to get a prescription filled you would have, in most instances, found that your prescription was actually filled by the on duty pharmacists. However, over the past few years a change has occurred in the pharmacist arena and that change is, “a pharmacist probably no longer filling your prescriptions”. Although pharmacists are on duty wherever medications are dispensed; today in most instances, a pharmacy technician or pharmacy assistant are the ones filling prescriptions.Pharmacy Technicians and assistants have existed for some time but their roles have evolved for a variety of reasons. A big reason is that they help to reduce health care costs because they get paid much less than a certified pharmacist. Another important reason is that it simply makes sense. Pharmacy technicians and assistants are trained to handle routine work (fill prescriptions and customer service), which frees up the pharmacists to focus more of their time on supervisory duties, as well as patient care.Melissa Murer, Executive Director of the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, put it this way, “Pharmacists are becoming more focused on patient care, so pharmacy technicians are needed to perform more of the distributive functions.”In this brief (but hopefully informative article) I attempt to demonstrate what pharmacy technician and assistants do and where they do it.In general, they assist licensed pharmacists in providing medication and health care to patients by preparing and filling prescriptions and performing clerical tasks. Duties are similar but pharmacy technicians generally have more responsibilities. In addition, technicians and assistants are required to be closely supervised by a licensened pharmacist, although the laws defining what “being supervised” entails, varies by state.In addition to having all of their prescriptions checked by a pharmacist, technicians and assistants must also direct all patient questions regarding drug information, health matters or prescriptions to the pharmacist.Pharmacy Technicians
Technicians follow specific procedures when filling prescriptions. After receiving an initial prescription or refill request, they must verify that the prescription information is accurate and then count, pour, retrieve, weigh, measure and if necessary, mix the required medication for the prescription. The next step is to prepare and affix the labels to the proper container. After filling the prescription the technician will then price and file it. Another important aspect of a technician’s job is to prepare patient insurance forms and establish and maintain patient profiles.In retail pharmacies, technicians will also stock and take inventory of medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) maintain equipment and help manage the till.In many hospitals, technicians have the responsibility to read the doctors orders from a patients’ chart, prepare and then deliver the medication after it’s been checked by a pharmacist. They may also enter information about patients’ medical records (regarding their medications) or put together a supply (normally 24 hours) of medicine for patients, including the labeling and packaging of each dose. But just like technicians working in a retail pharmacy, each package is checked by the supervising pharmacist before being given to a patient and they also maintain inventories of medicine and other supplies.Pharmacy Assistants
Duties are similar to pharmacy technicians and while hospitals and pharmacies employ pharmacy assistants, the number of available positions is generally less than technicians. In retail pharmacies they work as clerks or cashiers, answer phones, handle money and perform clerical duties. In hospitals they also deliver medications and assist in stocking shelves.Pharmacy technicians and assistants work in clean well-organized areas but are required to spend most of their workday on their feet. And because more and more pharmacies are open 24-hours a day work hours can vary with technicians and assistants are often required to work odds hours (nights, evenings and weekends). Therefore, there are many opportunities to work part-time in 24-hour pharmacies. In addition, a percentage of both technicians and assistants work part time because they are studying to become pharmacists.States have traditionally required a one-to-one ratio of pharmacist to technician but that is also expected to change. Mark Boesen, Director of Government and Student Affairs for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, has stated that: “Many of the major employers of technicians are expanding the number of their facilities and boards of pharmacy in some States are allowing the legal ratio of technicians to pharmacists to expand. This is a very promising field to work in.”An increasing demand for technicians with greater responsibility has prompted some States to revise their one-to-one ratio of pharmacist to technician to two or three technicians per pharmacist.As pharmacy technicians take on more and more tasks previously performed by pharmacists, they must also learn and master new technology. A good example is the increased use (by many pharmacies) of robotic machines to dispense medicines. Technicians will be required to oversee the machine, stock bins and label containers.This article may be reproduced only in its entirety.

What Is Nutritional Counseling?

Nutritional counselors, also known as dietitians, help patients identify and manage food and nutrition-related concerns through short- and long-term treatment strategies. Nutritional counseling is commonly applied to patients experiencing neuromuscular or musculoskeletal disorders, digestive ailments, obesity, diabetes, menopause, pregnancy, allergies, among other conditions.By analyzing and assessing diet and exercise habits, nutrition is seen as a key factor in establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Without adequate nutrition, a large number of diseases can ensue in part due to the vulnerability placed on the body. Nutritional counselors aim to find integrated ways to set goals and help patients achieve them. When nutritional counselors assess patients, individual profiles are analyzed. The information the patient receives from the counselor is contingent on their lifestyle (vegetarianism, for instance), age, life stage (menopause, pregnancy), and medical history.Nutritional Counseling incorporates weight monitoring and education about weight, food records, self-control strategies, meal planning, and problem-solving skills. Instruction of food planning and self monitoring is seen as instrumental in getting patients to follow a specified program.The Work of Dietitians
Dietitians and nutritionists plan nutrition programs, helping to prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits while addressing dietary imbalances. They also recommend specific dietary changes to fit a person’s temporary condition. (Recommending extra folate for pregnant women, for instance.) Dietitians often work in hospitals and schools, applying their services through education and research. Clinical dietitians provide nutritional services to patients in institutions by assessing patients’ nutritional needs, developing and recommending nutrition programs, and evaluating the results with other professionals to coordinate medical and nutritional needs. Community dietitians counsel individuals and groups on nutritional practices aimed to prevent disease and promote health. They work as independent contractors with healthcare facilities or engage in their own private practice, screening clients’ nutritional needs and offering regulated approaches meeting them.Eating Disorders
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) sets guidelines and protocols for the practice of nutritional counseling. In 1996, it defined guidelines for medical nutrition therapy for many medical conditions related to nutrition, which included eating disorders.The American Psychiatric Association (APA) considers nutritional counseling as one of the most important treatment elements for people with eating disorders. Nutritional counseling is viewed for its role in motivating patients to agree to reestablishing healthy eating habits. In this context, nutritional counseling is seen holistically, in terms of how it fits into ongoing support to patients and their families.Nutritional counseling in this context attempts to correct irregular eating habits, replacing it with a balanced approach to food and weight control. It provides a synthesis of information and practices, drawing from many fields including cognitive-behavioral, relational, and educational techniques. It is considered a part of overall treatment, not as a single-source approach. As such, it employs the support of other treatment methods, which can include psychotropic medications and psychological counseling.Collaborative rapport between patient and counselor is considered essential for treatment success. The counselor addressed entrenched food beliefs, behaviors and attitudes revolving around food, how, when, and how much to eat it – amounting to a complex equation. Counseling environments must be secure, safe, and supportive, where the patient receives helpful information from the counselor in a direct but non-intrusive manner.How Nutritional Counseling Can Help Overall Health: Counseling can clarify questions related to nutrients, calories, and special food needs, showing what to look for when reading food labels. They can help sort through healthy cooking alternatives in real-life contexts while teaching strategies of self-control. (One may learn how to better select items from a restaurant menu, for example.)Digestive Problems – Dietitians or Nutritionists jointly work with physicians to establish dietary plans that are in keeping with a patient’s condition. They may recommend the removal of fried foods, spices or carbonation, while recommending other alternatives.Diabetes – Counseling can provide healthy food alternatives without sacrificing taste.Pregnancy – It can help ensure a pregnant woman is getting all the nutrients she needs, especially during the first three months of pregnancy, the crucial period that may affect a newborn’s risk for developing neural tube or spinal cord defects.Conditions that May Benefit from Nutritional Counseling HIV, Cancer, Hypertension, Organ Dysfunctions, Hypoglycemia, and Heart Disease.Most eating disorder centers and residential programs offer nutritional counseling. The benefits of receiving nutritional counseling includes improved ability to concentrate, a boosted immune system, stabilized moods, more energy, aid in recovery of eating disorders, and increase in overall health.

What Are The Greatest Changes In Shopping In Your Lifetime

What are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime? So asked my 9 year old grandson.

As I thought of the question the local Green Grocer came to mind. Because that is what the greatest change in shopping in my lifetime is.

That was the first place to start with the question of what are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime.

Our local green grocer was the most important change in shopping in my lifetime. Beside him was our butcher, a hairdresser and a chemist.

Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb. And yes, the greatest changes in shopping in my lifetime were with the small family owned businesses.

Entertainment While Shopping Has Changed
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items.

Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in grease-proof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.

That was a big change in our shopping in my lifetime… you don’t come across butter bashing nowadays.

Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there.

Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.

My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved it, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite, not so local, green grocer’s. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box.

And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.

All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:

• Farm eggs

• Fresh vegetables

• Cow’s milk

• Freshly baked bread

• Coal for our open fires

Delivery Services
A man used to come to our house a couple of times a week with farm fresh eggs.

Another used to come every day with fresh vegetables, although my father loved growing his own.

Our milk, topped with beautiful cream, was delivered to our doorstep every single morning.

Unbelievably, come think of it now, our bread came to us in a huge van driven by our “bread-man” named Jerry who became a family friend.

My parents always invited Jerry and his wife to their parties, and there were many during the summer months. Kids and adults all thoroughly enjoyed these times. Alcohol was never included, my parents were teetotallers. Lemonade was a treat, with home made sandwiches and cakes.

The coal-man was another who delivered bags of coal for our open fires. I can still see his sooty face under his tweed cap but I can’t remember his name. We knew them all by name but most of them escape me now.

Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vacuum cleaner with an updated model.

Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.

People then only paid for their shopping with cash. This in itself has been a huge change in shopping in my lifetime.

In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.

Some Of The Bigger Changes
Some of the bigger changes in shopping were the opening of supermarkets.

• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.

• Internet shopping… the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.

• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.

On a more optimistic note, I hear that book shops are popular again after a decline.

Personal Service Has Most Definitely Changed
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, technology makes it so easy to do online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment.

We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.

Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful, that is grocery shopping. I’m sure it is when you have to dash home and cook dinner after a days work. I often think there has to be a better, less stressful way.

My mother had the best of both worlds, in the services she had at her disposal. With a full time job looking after 9 people, 7 children plus her and my dad, she was very lucky. Lucky too that she did not have 2 jobs.