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Helping patients butt out

October 31, 2018
Pharmacy technician Marian Johnson implements her learning to help military personnel quit smoking.

When pharmacy technician Marian Johnson sees a new patient for the first time at the Canadian Forces Base pharmacy in Wainwright, she collects all the pertinent information the pharmacy team needs. She asks questions like name, rank, birth date, and for various health information. Until recently, there was just one question about smoking in her form.

That changed after Marian read an article as part of her continuing competence.

“The article was aimed at pharmacy technicians to help patients kick the smoking habit,” said Marian. “It talked about ways you can talk to patients, lead-in questions, and things like that. I thought maybe I could make that into something.”

That something turned into developing a few more questions for new patients about smoking and whether they would like to attempt quitting.

Marian now asks patients if they smoke, if they would like to quit, how much they smoke, and how long they have smoked. She also uses the Fagerstrom Nicotine Tolerance Scale while collecting the information.

“If they’re interested in quitting, we have them speak with the pharmacist for more conversation and suggestions of what they might like to try,” said Marian. “If they’re not interested, at least they’re aware that they can get help through us and they can come back later.”

For Marian, it’s been gratifying to see patients come back to the pharmacy and begin the road to quitting. She’s glad she was able to get the process started and make it easier for both the patient and the pharmacist.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “We get into the reasons of why they want to quit, trying to determine how serious they are about quitting. Sometimes the reasons are that they have young kids, so it’s nice to hear they’re thinking about quitting.”

When it came time to prepare her implementation record for her continuing competence portfolio, it was a natural fit to select her smoking cessation questionnaire as the topic.

“I’m usually in a desperate state of mind thinking about what I’m going to use for the implementation record. This seemed doable,” said Marian. “I just started, and it evolved. It was relevant to our patients here.”

If you’re stuck trying to figure out what to use for your implementation record this year, Marian has a pro tip.

“Read more,” she said. “When you’re doing the tests, go into the extra handouts. Click on the links. Sometimes it’s there where you’ll find you can develop more and apply it to your practice. If you see a pharmacy practice journal kicking around, read it and something might spark an interest for you.”

For pharmacy technicians, completed portfolios are due for submission on or before November 30. For more information, check the CCP requirements section of the ACP website.