Throughout her career as a pharmacy technician, Regan Tattersall has seen significant change. She finds that her practice in a rural hospital pharmacy has allowed her to be challenged and accept responsibility for the activities that fit her capabilities as a professional.
Regan’s journey to become a pharmacy technician may not have began had it not been for her Dad pushing her to pursue post-secondary education. Having worked as a cashier at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Edson, Regan decided that she wanted to attend Red Deer College and the practical duration and reasonable cost of the pharmacy technician program appealed to her. That decision set the wheels in motion. She was able to transfer to a Shoppers Drug Mart in Red Deer and worked in the pharmacy part time while she attended school. Already having a position as a pharmacy assistant, Regan considered not completing registration exams once she finished school. It was her preceptor at the Banff Springs Hospital that pushed her towards continuing the process and Regan completed the PEBC exams in 2011 and became fully registered in 2012. Regan first joined Alberta Health Services (AHS) as a pharmacy assistant at the Red Deer Regional Hospital. She worked in that role for about a year and then moved into a casual pharmacy technician position.
Regan continued to practice at the hospital in Red Deer for the next two years. She then decided to move to Edmonton to be closer to family and took a position at London Drugs. Regan had an opportunity to work at AHS again in August 2015 after moving back to Edson. At that time, Regan was the only pharmacy technician that worked at the hospital. That meant she was needed to take a lead role in the planning underway for a new hospital facility in Edson. The implementation of Pyxis™, an automated dispensing cabinet (ADC) system, was being introduced at the new hospital and it was Regan’s job to plan for that implementation, including how many medications were required to be stocked and how the ADCs would be configured.
The new facility was highly anticipated to improve pharmacy operations. Sterile compounding infrastructure at the old Edson hospital was less than desirable and a new cleanroom was planned. Resolving cleanroom planning issues as they arose provided an opportunity for Regan to use her sterile compounding knowledge and she became very involved in that work as the sterile compounding supervisor. It was a good fit since sterile compounding was Regan’s favorite part of the job when she worked at the Red Deer hospital. The new cleanroom and expanded sterile compounding services at the new Edson hospital meant nurses no longer had to mix IVs in patients’ rooms, improving the quality of the medications patients received. It took a lot of work but getting to work in a “shiny new cleanroom” was a highlight for Regan.
Regan says she “became regulated to be able to work to…full scope of practice”. She finds that she is able to do that even more with the addition of more pharmacy staff at the hospital. Regan works alongside another pharmacy technician, part-time pharmacy assistant and a full-time pharmacist. When Regan first started at the old hospital, the pharmacist worked on-site only one day per week. More pharmacy staff has meant opportunities for Regan to complete Best Possible Medication Histories for patients in the Emergency department. It’s not something she does every day, but a screening form Regan helped develop is used to identify priority patients for whom the pharmacy technician will complete a BPMH. Regan explains that the pharmacist loves when the pharmacy technician can do this work – if the pharmacy technician does a proper med list it saves the pharmacist not having to do a lot of post-order follow-up.
Regan recognizes that our profession has advanced so much since she graduated in 2011. She sees pharmacy technicians “paving our way into all of the new changes coming ahead as leaders and an essential part of the healthcare system.” So, what does she do when not driving practice changes and improving pharmacy services in Edson? Outside of work, teaching yoga and being a parent to her daughters Zoey and Briella keeps her busy. Fishing, boating and hunting are some of her family’s favorite activities.
Her hope for the future of pharmacy technicians is to be able to continue to grow professional capabilities, like administering drugs by injection, and inform other healthcare professionals of the pharmacy technician’s scope of practice. She finds ways to help do this herself by being accessible to other healthcare staff, training nursing staff on how to use Pyxis™ and offering other education as it’s needed. She recalls an example working on the patient care unit and observing a nurse mixing an IV. The nurse opened an ampoule without using an alcohol swab and didn’t use a filter needle. Regan used the opportunity to educate the nurse about how to use proper aseptic technique in those situations. She says, “I love being able to put my knowledge into practice and build my confidence and experience in my pharmacy technician role”.