Trail blazer

November 14, 2018

For Tiana Cunningham, this was a career-changing opportunity.

The pharmacy technician from Lethbridge jumped at the chance to work with a pharmacist in the emergency department at the Chinook Regional Hospital, and she hasn’t once looked back.

“The emergency department had never had a pharmacy presence before, so we took this opportunity to help with medication-related problems that could be identified right from admission,” said Tiana, who has worked as a regulated pharmacy technician since 2014.

Tiana believed that a major part of her role in the emergency department could be performing Best Possible Medication Histories (BPMHs) with patients upon admission. Before technicians arrived in the emergency department, BPMHs either weren’t being done, or they were being done incorrectly. So, before she started her new role, Tiana took a BPMH online course offered through Alberta Health Services. She then applied what she learned into her practice.

“I find that having a technician complete BPMHs increases the accuracy and the volume of them being done,” Tiana said. “We are the best resources for it. Pharmacists can then focus on clinical-related issues and helping the physicians. This way, we are able to get medication to patients sooner because the BPMHs are being done right at admission rather than after a patient has been transferred to the floor and is in the hospital.”

Tiana loves working in the emergency department and feels like she’s making a difference for patients. She’s also used it as an opportunity to educate other healthcare professionals about the role of pharmacy technicians.

Tiana used her experience as the topic for her implementation record last year, part of her continuing competence professional portfolio due annually by November 30.

“It was a new position for me and a new skill entirely,” she said. “To be given the chance to develop this rotation in the south zone, it was just me and another technician at the beginning, I thought it would be a great opportunity to use for my implementation record.”

She’s hoping the success they’ve had with the emergency department in Lethbridge will inspire other hospitals to include pharmacy professionals in the admission process.

A reminder to pharmacy technicians: be sure to submit your professional portfolios as part of your practice permit renewal by November 30. Check the ACP website for more information.

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