Automation Analyst, Inpatient Pharmacy Department, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI
Alexander Faulkner, CPhT, began his move up the career ladder 10 years ago when his office job no longer satisfied him and, he says, he sought a "change of scene". Attracted to hospital work, he soon landed employment at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI as a pharmacy technician. Six months after being hired, he was promoted to a Pharmacy Technician II, and in less than a year, he advanced to Pyxis Specialist Technician. He became PTCB Certified in 2006, and 2 years later, moved up to his current position as Pharmacy Automation Analyst, assuming a long list of new responsibilities.
Alex now manages more than 130 Pyxis automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) used to dispense more than 95% of doses for 540 beds at three hospitals and several ancillary locations, where ADCs automate medication management in ORs and procedural sites. Known to think outside the box, Alex has in-depth knowledge of ADC technology and how to use it to save time and expense, and advance patient safety. Alex educates all departments on the system, and makes himself available to work side-by-side with new users.
“Being PTCB-Certified has advanced my career,” Alex says, “because my PTCB Certification shows I have all the necessary education to perform as a pharmacy technician.” In Michigan, certification will be required for licensure beginning June 30, 2015. “Maintaining both PTCB Certification and state licensure opens the door for more pharmacy system opportunities.”
Alex is charged with handling all calls from nurses seeking assistance with ADC problems or questions. Nursing staff say he reacts so quickly to their calls for help that he appears on the floor to fix a problem before they can hang up the phone. He has implemented new technology procedures in nursing units and the pharmacy, and trains new staff continually on ADC technology and diversion tracking. For example, Alex installed a bar code scanner on each Pyxis ADC machine to scan the medication at each stage (refilling, removing, and inventory) as an extra patient safety measure. If he finds scanning has not been done properly, he follows up with staff to correct the issue.
“Deploying the Pyxis anesthesia devices in the outpatient surgery center is exciting and rewarding,” he says, “because implementation of these devices improves both patient safety and inventory efficiency.” Previously, the surgery staff used non-computerized anesthesia carts, says Alex. “Implementing new ADC machines in each OR has changed daily work routines for many employees. Technicians were previously pulling more than 200 medications and filling patient orders every morning for an hour and a half; the new process reduces this task to a fraction of the time. It helps the nursing staff locate the medications on the units more easily and it helps patients because their verified medications reach them faster." Alex helped develop a new process to load cart fill medications into ADCs and trained technicians to correctly place pending medications into the cubie drawers from the Pyxis console, and unload the medications when orders have ended.
During the upcoming 6 months, Alex will continue implementing all new ADCs and installing Pyxis anesthesia devices in another 30 ORs across four sites of the St. Joseph Mercy Health System. “All 2,300 users in these ORs need to be retrained,” says Alex.
“The most rewarding aspect of my work as a CPhT is implementing new processes that allow for more efficient work flows and result in better patient care,” Alex says. “Helping educate staff on using new technology is also at the top of my list. Having converted first-hand our Urgent Care areas from locked cabinets with medications to ADCs opened my eyes to how important efficiency is to advancing patient care!”
Alex also finds ways to fabricate products to meet department needs when commercially available technology falls short. He has done so for a range of needs, from sharps disposal to narcotic diversion control.
Alex was selected as one of seven finalists for 2014 PTCB CPhT of the Year for his contribution to patient safety at his workplace.
Read about other outstanding CPhTs featured in Spotlight.