March 19, 2018

Pharmacy Awareness Month Profile Series, Part IV: Patty Shinkewski

Q: What inspired you to become a Pharmacy Technician?

A: I grew up in Ponteix, Saskatoon, a town with only 600 people. At our high school, we rarely had guest speakers but one year a career speaker came in from Robertson Career College. She opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a Pharmacy Technician. It really sparked my interest.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a hospital Pharmacy Technician?

A: In my current role, it’s most rewarding to source the best medication for our patients. If there’s a new drug and we don’t carry it, or if we need an emergency medication for a patient I will get that drug in, as best I can. That’s what I like about my job. That’s where my adrenaline high comes from — when I succeed in getting what I need for my patients.

Q: How has the role of a Pharmacy Technician changed over the years

A: Increasingly, pharmacy technicians are becoming involved in monitoring drug utilization for budgeting purposes and out-of-province claims and payments, developing new standards of practice for various areas of pharmacy, leading and participating on various boards related to transportation and the safe handling of chemotherapy drugs and drug shortages.

Q: Is there a particular project or challenge that you’ve most proud to have worked on?

A: As the Senior Technician responsible for drug acquisition and inventory levels for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, I encounter challenges every day. One challenge is to constantly add to my knowledge of drug therapy. In my day-to-day, it’s a fine balancing act to ensure I have enough product on hand so I don’t run out or order too much. I am constantly watching stock.

Q: Most people don’t realize that the pharmaceutical supply chain doesn’t end when the medication is delivered to the hospital. What is one thing you’d want readers to know about the hospital pharmacy supply chain that they might not realize?

A: Many processes and tasks must work in harmony from the time an order is placed to when a patient receives chemotherapy. We need to understand Health Canada’s drug approval mechanism. We need to be on top of national negotiations to ordering processes. We must have knowledge of dispensing mechanisms, nursing functions, drug back orders, drug shortages and where to find alternate suppliers. We must be conscious of reducing waste and ensuring safe practices.

Q: How does being a part of HealthPRO help your facility reinforce safe medication?

A: Being part of HealthPRO helps ensure we get the best value for our money. It provides a forum to discuss common issues and learn from each other’s experiences. In terms of safe medication management, we learn about back orders and how it may impact our patients. We need to know this information. Sitting down with the GPO and evaluating products and sharing information helps us get the safest products. For example, it is much safer to have a chemo product with a wrapper over the vial versus one that doesn’t.

Q: What is the most interesting exciting prospect/change you see on the horizon for hospital pharmacy?

A: The scope of the pharmacy technician’s practice will grow and improve. I see more order entry in our future.  I can see the pharmacy technician entering the order and the pharmacist reviewing and checking it. This will allow the pharmacist to spend more time in the clinic. That’s an exciting prospect for the hospital pharmacy.