CPhT of the Year
Ashley Bollinger, CPhT
Overland Park, KS
PTCB-Certified for 6 years
“The greatest challenge I’ve faced and met as a PTCB-Certified Pharmacy Technician has been navigating new territory and changes in team dynamic as our company has grown. My role as Clinical Coordinator has expanded from supervising other technicians to bridging the gap between the technicians and pharmacists. The realignment of weekly meetings with both the pharmacists and technicians allows me to share vital information and education pieces to both groups. This ensures we are doing our due diligence when it comes to taking care of our members, and working together better as a clinical team."
Patient Care Highlight: Employed in pharmacy benefit management, Ashley trains and supervises a team of seven CPhTs. She oversees patient communications to ensure patients have accurate information about their pharmacy benefit, can manage costs associated with therapies, and understand their benefit options. The results of her initiatives play a role in consistently superior patient satisfaction ratings of 95%(+). She promotes CE and leads educational sessions reviewing pharmacy trends and drug information. In 2015, she developed and published a 225-page clinical training manual for CPhTs and pharmacists in their daily work flows. She is active in interdepartmental project meetings, offering a clinical perspective on patient and client initiatives and serving as a representative for the clinical department. Ashley recognized she would first need to better understand her staff's individual strengths and performance gaps to develop a strong team; one of her first initiatives was to enhance and refine CPhT performance measures and evaluations. She developed a CPhT performance evaluation process that uses metrics to measure key principles of success: job performance, reliability, initiative, judgment, integrity, customer service, responsibility and commitment to quality, standards of behavior, professional development, and adherence to policy. Her process includes a detailed rating scale with specific definitions to assign measurable performance scores. Ashley has leveraged the results of these performance evaluations to better guide her team’s professional development.
Barrett Mand, CPhT
Inpatient Pharmacy Technician III
Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin
PTCB-Certified for 6 years
Barrett says: “Ever since I stepped foot into a pharmacy technician position, I've known that I wanted to be a role model in innovative processes within pharmacies. This led to the challenge of identifying problems and innovating new solutions to them. I met this challenge through intense networking and identifying roles that boosted my experience. Designing a successful medication reconciliation program, working with people living in poverty to improve their quality of life and in turn improve medication adherence, and negotiating an innovative patient assistance program are just three of countless ways I've met this challenge so far.”
Patient Care Highlight: Barrett uses Tech Check Tech (TCT) programs with an accuracy rate well above the state requirement of 99.8% on both first doses and cart fill medications. He created a medication reconciliation program that led to a 66% decrease in medication errors (physician order entry errors). He is a leader on a project team to ensure correct use of CRRT 402 bags within the ICU patient population, protecting patients with stable potassium from becoming hypokalemic. Barrett successfully negotiated a new design that increased manageability and accessibility to a patient assistance program with a drug manufacturer which reduced the cost of a specific medication by about $250,000 total annually for patients at his pharmacy; and then led the pilot for that program. He serves in multiple staff roles, from inpatient third shifts, to prior authorization teams, to retail pharmacy teams. On third shift, he helps complete the TCT process for nightly cart fills and daily first doses. Barrett was a key member in the central pharmacy operations work group that worked on prioritizing work flow. Barrett has helped educate new staff members and prepare them for PTCB Certification. He helps new employees prepare for certification and has helped write test questions for PTCB. He is involved in committees to address medication par levels and dispensing machine optimization. He aids multiple areas of pharmacy, including outpatient pharmacies and infused/oral prior authorization.
Brande Ribillia, CPhT
Lead Inpatient Pharmacy Techncian
Straub Clinic & Hospital
PTCB-Certified for 14 years
Brande says: "My greatest challenge has been advancing the roles of pharmacy technicians in my state. I have been fortunate to work with pharmacists and employers who support Certified Pharmacy Technicians. They appreciate the effort that we have made to become certified technicians. Technicians play an important role in all pharmacies. We are usually the first and last person a patient talks to when they come to or call a pharmacy. It would be great to see CPhTs' roles advance so that the pharmacist can spend more time with our patients."
Patient Care Highlight: Brande coordinates pharmacy technician schedules and training and development, serves as a back-up pharmacy buyer, oversees automated dispensing cabinetry (ADC) automation, and looks for opportunities to improve and maximize automation. Her work led to operational changes that: decreased the time required for pharmacists' to manually check medication trays and improved accuracy from 77.8% to nearly 100%; decreased pyxis medication fill errors per quarter from 4 - 7 to 0 -1; and implemented barcode verification upon chemotherapy preparation in the EMR as another layer of validation. She helped rectify ADC and controlled substances discrepancies. She trains technician staff and coordinates small staff discussion groups to encourage employee feedback. These groups contributed to an increase in employee satisfaction Gallup scores. Brande attends her State Board of Pharmacy's meetings and encourages technicians to advocate on their own behalf. Brande is affiliated with the community college certification program and serves as technician representative on her state pharmacists association board. She helped establish an association residency showcase program and promotes technician certification in her state. Brande was instrumental in establishing non-traditional technician roles through the Pharmacy Advancement Initiative (PAI) whereby technicians help with controlled substance reviews to prevent diversion. This led to improvement in compliance nearing 99%. She implemented medication reconciliation, improving capture rate from 35% to nearly 80%.
2016 CPhT of the Year
Diane Halvorson, CPhT
Lead Pharmacy Technician
PTCB-Certified for 5 years
“My greatest challenge was when I was appointed Interim Pharmacy Manager by our Interim Pharmacy Director and supported by our Chief Executive Officer. I took on an active role in the daily management of the pharmacy. It is an awesome opportunity for me to demonstrate my full abilities as a Certified Pharmacy Technician. It provides acknowledgement of my capabilities, as I serve on my State Board of Pharmacy, and this role demonstrates I am educated in my field and able to represent the pharmacy technician viewpoint. Being PTCB-Certified helps me increase my skills and knowledge and reinforces my confidence to take on more detailed roles in the pharmacy."
Patient Care Highlight: Diane formerly served two 1-year terms as President of her State Board of Pharmacy, and she is the current Pharmacy Technician Member of the Board. She was just appointed by the Governor for her second 5-year term. She is former President of and current liaison to the Northland Association of Pharmacy Technicians. She is an advocate on the local and national level with an end goal of national technician standardization. Diane served PTCB as a test item writer and attended a PTCB Stakeholder meeting. As Interim Pharmacy Manager, she recently completed updating policies and procedures to embrace EMR and eMAR implementation. She created walk-through tutorials on processes for pharmacy and clinical staff. With EMR in place, Diane has expanded patient/medication barcode scanning to ensure staff are giving the correct medication. Barcode scanning had been used 60% of the time, but the industry standard is 90%. Now the facility is averaging 95% barcode scanning. Diane created a new process for insulin dispensing, placing it in the Automated Medication System. This allows employees to retrieve a patient’s insulin and a barcode label unique to that medication, improving patient safety and decreasing insulin waste. She prepares medications daily, including oral and sterile compounding, for pharmacist review. She manages staff scheduling, inventory levels, shortages, recalls, processing of invoices, and purchasing to ensure cost effectiveness. She leads pharmacy department meetings.
Johnathan Gunn, HS2, CPhT
Craik Clinic Pharmacy
1 US Coast Guard Training Center
PTCB-Certified for 5 years Johnathan says:
“Thus far, the greatest challenge has been customizing a basic label generating software to operate appropriately for the requirements of our pharmacy. In my 5 years as a PTCB Certified pharmacy technician, I never imagined that I would have to analyze computer code and build software from the basic functions to fully operating pharmacy software. I was able to complete this task with no prompting from command and without any loss of productivity.”
Patient Care Highlight: When the Coast Guard’s electronic prescription processing software was phased out, Johnathan single-handedly enhanced a basic label generating software and converted it into a full-service pharmacy software. Without prior training, he spent more than 100 hours troubleshooting, rebuilding, and meticulously augmenting the program to function properly. His software produces labels equivalent of commercial prescription processing software. In addition to serving as the Duty Section Coordinator, Immunizations Coordinator, and Duty Pharmacy Technician Coordinator, Johnathan also conducted a prescription correction quality improvement study, revealing a 9% margin of error that was corrected by himself or the physician prior to reaching the patient. The study was performed over a 6-month period and evaluated 2,000 hand written prescriptions. After he conducted pharmacy training for the clinic, followed by a 3-month review period, the amount of corrections decreased by 50%. He established a binder-sticker system with pre-printed labels for fast-moving medications to further decrease errors, while increasing productivity. He works without a pharmacist, yet operates a pharmacy at a level commiserate of a pharmacist with decades of experience, and has zero medications errors. His actions are well beyond the normal scope of a pharmacy technician. He helps manage referrals of patients to providers to ensure their continued specialty care. On top of his pharmacy and clinic responsibilities, he maintained a high academic standing in college, which earned him an induction in the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, while continually mentoring others seeking PTCB Certification.
Customer Success Specialist
Iowa City, IA
PTCB-Certified for 6 years
Nicole says: “There was always a structured and supervised environment where I worked previously in traditional pharmacies. I was extremely careful, but pharmacists checked everything I did before it reached the end user. Now, decisions must be made quickly and confidently where I work; I am the final check before implementation. At first, this autonomy was terrifying, but I realized that my knowledge, experience, and certification prepared me to develop and implement best practices on my own. Believing and trusting in myself was a challenge, but now I'm confident and direct in my decision making."
Patient Care Highlight: In her role as a Customer Success Specialist, Nicole coaches and acts as subject-matter expert to more than 150 PTCB CPhTs. She manages on-site implementation of hardware and telepharmacy software, and provides on-site training for new users, and support to end-users (technicians and pharmacists). Nicole has elevated the role of the technician by creating and updating a key training manual and a policies and procedures template for new telepharmacies. About 90% of new retail telepharmacy sites in the US use her manual. She provides insight to software engineers in the office so new security measures are added that help prevent errors. Nicole provides telepharmacy best practices training to more than 250 pharmacists and technicians across more than 40 locations and six states. She leads monthly webinars and refreshers to ensure regulatory compliance. She travels across the US to install hardware and train technicians on telepharmacy operations. Nicole has attended the grand openings of many telepharmacies, two of which were on the same day. She brings new ideas for features that will improve the accuracy of terminology and work flows, and enhance patient experience. Recently, she led the charge to incorporate a seamless notes feature and an improved translator. She has implemented a new user-training and refresher-training program for CPhTs using online portals and in-person teaching methods. Nicole advocates PTCB Certification for technicians in telepharmacy to help ensure their competence and commitment.
Nikki (Andrea) Ratliff, CPhT
Pharmacy Technician Instructor
Tennessee College of Applied Technology
PTCB-Certified for 13 years Nikki says:
"My greatest challenge has definitely been the variation in educational levels among CPhTs. Currently, a pharmacy technician can become certified through self-study and/or on-the-job training. I became certified through this avenue, while being employed at an independent retail pharmacy. Unfortunately, I was not educated about many vital aspects of pharmacy that are not encompassed in retail. I like the idea of a universal educational standard that conveys a broader view of the profession, which is what I teach as an instructor. Thus, I eagerly anticipate the upcoming changes that 2020 will usher in for the world of pharmacy technicians.”
Patient Care Highlight: As the first-ever pharmacy technician instructor at the applied technology college where she teaches, her role includes evaluation of student performance and job placement assistance. She continues to work part-time at a retail pharmacy. Nikki implemented a flu vaccination clinic at the school where she teaches when her pharmacy agreed to come administer vaccines to students, faculty, and staff. The benefits were two-fold: 1) many were vaccinated against the flu; and 2) pharmacy technician students enhanced their patient care skills by assisting with procurement of insurance information, billing procedures, distributing VIS forms, and assisting with pre-vaccination questionnaires. The school plans to make this an annual event. Nikki assisted with a flu vaccination clinic at a local industrial manufacturing plant, which required her to arrive at 4 AM to accommodate third and first shift employees. To date, she has achieved a near-100% PTCE pass rate for her inaugural technician class at the college where she teaches. Nikki worked 20 hours per week while finishing her bachelor's degree in biology, maintaining dean's list status, and will begin a master's program in 2017 focused on allied health. She is a textbook reviewer for an award-winning pharmacy calculations textbook. When asked why she continues working at the pharmacy, she said she wanted to stay abreast of day-to-day advancements and changes within the field and, she said, "I'd miss my patients."
Master Sergeant Robert R. George, CPhT, USAF
Instructor Supervisor, AF Pharmacy Training
San Antonio, TX
PTCB-Certified for 7 years
Robert says: "The greatest challenge I’ve faced and met has been the last 2 years of my career. I was originally hired as Instructor Supervisor at the Medical Education and Training Campus, but upon arrival, I was notified that I would be the Senior Enlisted Leader for the program. Instantaneously my student workload quadrupled, and the number of instructors for which I was responsible went from three to 30. Ensuring almost 22,000 credit hours are properly awarded to 600 students, all while replenishing four branches with qualified technicians, culminates this amazing challenge.'”
Patient Care Highlight: While assigned as the Pharmacy Chief at his base, MSgt George piloted a patient safety process improvement on prescription dispensing and label redesign, which in turn improved drug therapy compliance and patient safety affecting more than 248,000 prescriptions within the first year. He led his organization's National Prescription Drug Take Back program and was recognized as the leading team across 75 military treatment facilities. He spearheaded training for 68 members, achieving a prescription dispensing accuracy rate of 99.9% in a pharmacy with $10.2M annual budget, servicing more than 75,000. Robert was hand-selected to be the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the DOD Medical Education and Training Department Chair, overseeing four of DOD's medical service technician training programs, all nationally accredited, and graduating 895 students annually. He supervises 32 technician training instructors and advises the Pharmacy Career Field Manager overseeing 1,200 technicians worldwide. He served as Interim Program Director to the Biomedical Officer Management Orientation course, training 97 newly accessioned pharmacists and other allied health officers yearly. He served as one of the key facilitators to pharmacy's $2.9M electronic formulary and electronic prescribing projects. As the project officer for the DOD Tech-Check-Tech (TCT) program, he developed standardized training and skills/competency assessments for technicians worldwide, enabling technicians to augment pharmacists’ duties during contingency operations in deployment. MSgt George advocates PTCB Certification to all technicians he supervises. ________________________________________________________________________________