The theme for this year’s ASHP Mid-Year Conference is “Some Mid-Year Magic.” To celebrate the contributions and magic that our talented pharmacists and technicians bring to their patients, we are launching a new series called Moments in Pharmacy.
Today, we feature Donna Gubbins, an Operations Specialist at CompleteRx.
Q. What does being a pharmacist (or position) mean to you?
A. Being an Operations Specialist allows me to be involved in every aspect of the operations of the pharmacy. I’ve been involved in analyzing and improving workflows to maximize productivity. I’ve done charge master audits to ensure accurate patient billing. I’ve trained pharmacy purchasers in inventory control techniques to balance spending while maintaining sufficient stock levels.
Q. Name one thing that’s changed the most about pharmacy operations since you began your career?
A. Advances in automation have greatly changed the way a pharmacy runs while improving patient safety. Rather than technicians filling med carts with doses for each specific patient, they now maintain inventory in dispensing cabinets on the nursing units. Barcode scanning and electronic medication profiles help ensure the patients are getting the correct doses.
Q. Describe a meaningful moment you’ve experienced in this field.
A. I’ve trained several technicians as pharmacy buyers, and I always try to instill in them a sense of the importance and impact of their roles. It always encourages me when they step up and realize their potential. One person in particular has gone so far above and beyond what I could have hoped. Even though her success is mostly down to her own initiative and self-motivation, it makes me a little proud to have had a small hand in her accomplishments.
Q. How does your role impact your pharmacy and patient care?
A. As an Operations Specialist, I travel to many of our hospital partners working on a wide variety of projects. The one thing I always do is try to encourage the staff to consider their impact on patient care, no matter what they are doing.
Sometimes it’s a very tangible thing like getting that stat dose of medication to the nursing unit in a timely manner. Sometimes, it’s less obvious such as how we interact with direct care givers, either in person or on the phone. Those subtle interactions can have an impact on patient care as well.
If a nurse is rushed and the phone rings numerous times in pharmacy before being answered, it’s frustrating for them. If a respiratory therapist can’t get the needed medication out of the dispensing cabinet because it wasn’t restocked, and maybe has to walk over to another unit to get it, that’s frustrating as well. Those caregivers don’t need the extra challenges that frustration causes when their job is already stressful. Any help we can give to lessen their stress and increase efficiencies will make for a better patient experience and hopefully better outcomes.
Q. What do you like best about your job?
A. I like meeting people from all over the country and having an impact on their work and lives. Hopefully that’s in a good way more often than not!
I’ve learned so much and made so many friends from New York to New Mexico over the 10+ years that I’ve been an Operations Specialist for CompleteRx. It has certainly had a positive impact on my life.
Q. Name one or two of the most exciting developments you see taking place in pharmacy operations or pharmaceuticals right now.
A. As far as pharmaceuticals, it’s a very exciting time. Innovations in cancer therapy and new ways to treat and cure diseases like Alzheimer’s are in the forefront.
As a pharmacy technician, I’m thrilled that the roles of technicians are advancing and expanding. Technicians can do so much to enhance the operations of the pharmacy and to free up pharmacists to have a greater impact on patient care.