The introduction of an advanced role for pharmacy technicians into the New Zealand pharmacy setting
The roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are changing, both within New Zealand and internationally. The move of New Zealand pharmacists into the more clinically focused roles of their overseas colleagues has however been slow, even with evidence that pharmacists are interested in taking on this clinical role. Time, or the lack of it, has been identified as one barrier to this move. The introduction of an advanced checking technician role would potentially address this barrier. This introduction will facilitate a move to the more clinically focused role for pharmacists, allowing them more time to apply their medicine training to the care of patients. This thesis consists of three parts and explores the potential to change the existing pharmacy technician role. Firstly, a survey was carried out to investigate the opinions of staff around the introduction of a Checking Technician role and explores whether pharmacists and technicians believed that the current technician role could or should change. Secondly, a qualitative study was done to investigate whether technician’s roles change during a period of upheaval and disruption during a crisis. Thirdly, we investigated the introduction of the new technician role and the change in task distribution within a group of staff who volunteered to trial the introduction of the Checking Technician role into their workplaces. The initial survey study identified some facilitators and barriers to the introduction of the new role. Exploring both an extreme and chaotic situation in which roles were forced to change and a planned experiment where people attempted to change their roles, provided further insight into these facilitators and barriers to the introduction of a new checking technician role. A small study by Braund et.al. (2012) indicated that some New Zealand technicians are interested in taking on more responsibility, and Elvey (2001) showed that they are interested in learning more. Braund also showed, however, that some technicians would prefer not to change, but to continue in their current roles. These studies investigated a general trend by technicians to demonstrate a willingness to learn more and take on more responsibility. The introduction of a Checking Technician role involves the introduction of a specific role with clearly defined training requirements and responsibilities. More information from the technician population and a much larger sample was needed, therefore a survey was developed to obtain opinions from technicians. The pharmacists were also canvased as they would be relinquishing a role that was previously theirs. Identification of any barriers to implementation has an impact on designing a scheme to introduce this new role. When a devastating earthquake hit Christchurch, a major city in NZ, the associated confusion and destruction meant that pharmacies had to develop different methods of performing many of the tasks necessary to take care of their patients. This crisis situation proved an opportunity to explore how pharmacists and technicians adjusted their roles in an extreme and unplanned situation. In contrast, the third part of the thesis explores whether and how roles changed when pharmacists volunteered to take part in a pilot project investigating new roles. This change was planned and training was provided. The introduction of the Checking Technician role needs to be understood at a workplace level therefore the evaluation of a pilot study was performed. The pilot study investigated the training required to upskill the technicians, the impact on the workplace (both staff and layout), and the impact on pharmacist time and activities.
Advisor: Braund, Rhiannon; Norris, Pauline
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: School of Pharmacy
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Advanced roles; Pharmacy; Checking technician; Pharmacy Technician; Patient focused care
Research Type: Thesis