Pippa Burchnall is the Technician Representative for the Qld Branch Committee of SHPA. Pippa originally trained in the UK and became a qualified technician in 2006. Following on from this she also gained her qualification as a checking technician in 2008 and had many years working as a checking technician in hospitals in the UK. One of Pippa’s more challenging roles was as a technician discharge co-ordinator. In this role she was the first point of call for the ward when a patient was ready for discharge. Pippa was responsible for planning the post-discharge medication requirements including screening the discharge prescription, ensuring all the appropriate documentation was complete and preparing a discharge medication record before providing it to the pharmacist to triage.
In 2011 she moved to the Gold Coast and began working at the Gold Coast Hospital. Pippa became the first pharmacy assistant dispensary manager and she has been responsible for developing this role across the Health Service. She was instrumental in co-ordinating the moving and setting up of the pharmacy department and ward imprests for the new Gold Coast University Hospital in 2014. During her time at the Gold Coast Pippa has mentored a number of pharmacy assistants through their Certificate III and Certificate IV qualifications. Pippa is keen to see an expanded scope of practice for pharmacy assistants to further improve patient care.
Background: There is little literature describing the role of technicians in management positions such as dispensary manager within Australian Hospitals. With the growth of pharmacy and the need for expanded scope of practice roles for technicians, management is one aspect to look at.
Aims: To describe the role, benefits and challenges of a technician dispensary manager in an Australian principal referral hospital. The skills, knowledge and qualifications required to be an effective dispensary manager will also be outlined.
Discussion: The dispensary manager has a great understanding of the flow and the overall operations of the dispensary. For this position a Certificate IV in Hospital/Health Systems Pharmacy Support or equivalent in required along with the ability to line manage other technicians, manage dispensary staffing, prioritise the work flow and work loads, and allocate tasks to individuals. The dispensary manager also liaises with the front counter staff, inventory officers and the pharmacist in charge who is clinically responsible for the dispensary work, to ensure smooth operations of the entire pharmacy.
Employing a technician as the primary manager of the daily operations of the dispensary allows the dispensary to be staffed by different pharmacists in 2 daily shifts enabling the pharmacists to focus on their clinical role whilst still maintaining the currency of their dispensary skills.
Challenges faced include definition of roles especially between the dispensary manager and pharmacist in charge. We utilise a work instruction to help clarify the key differences.
Conclusion: The effective role of the technician dispensary manager within our health service illustrates that technicians can assume important management roles within hospital pharmacy in Australia. This is just one example of expanded scope of practice roles that could be effectively and efficiently be filled by technicians in Australia enabling pharmacists to focus on patient centred care.