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Your pharmacy staff: generalists or specialists?

See your work life in seasons.

Like doctors, in pharmacy we have specialists and generalists. I am referring to each of your registered and unregistered staff. The specialists are bone-deep great at a few skills that they have honed over years of experience. Since pharmacy is mostly a trained-on-the-job profession, your specialists are the more experienced staff. They are the ones who are in charge of programs and self-start projects, anticipating problems before they occur. They require less supervision and direction.

Those with less experience are generalists. They have not yet had sufficient time to learn and practice. They are moderately good at a lot of things on a more superficial level.

So how to you coach generalists into specialists without stopping the fast-paced game in-play?

View the pharmacy day and week in seasons

There are periods of supreme busyness where we work reactively, at mercy of the public, phone and fax. These are times of vaccine clinics, hospital discharges, blister pack changes, covering vacations, have someone in the hood, have relief pharmacists scheduled or are behind in production.

These periods all follow catch-up time, a proactive time, where production is caught-up, the counter is clear, we are fully-staffed and nothing is on fire. What happens in proactive season sets up failure or success in reactive season.

The strength of a pharmacy happens in proactive seasons

This season is also the hardest to preserve since other essential elements fight for its time like lunch, breaks, washrooms, returning calls, evaluations, audits, schedule-making, narcotic counts, emails and meetings.

During proactive time, make it known that we must fight to make time for generalists to train on the high difficulty tasks. These include the practices that are mastered with years within the profession like billing, batching, manipulating blister packs, IV work, compounding, or using newer secondary software like appointment calendars.

In proactive season, the specialists assume the low difficulty tasks like filing, blister preparation, putting the drug order away, sending the order, checking expiry dates and cleaning. This not only gives the specialists a mental break but also ensures we do not get too far behind on the basics. The more time generalists have training on hard tasks, the more flexible and resilient the pharmacy will be in reactive times.

Reactive time is about survival. Proactive time is about training

Optimize proactive seasons for a stronger dispensary, a better work-life balance, a happier staff with less overall turnover and patient care will take care of itself.

Can you recognize proactive season each day in your pharmacy?


Jason chart

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