MY STARTING POINT – MAYRA RUIZ GALLEGOS – FIRST DAY AT EXTERNSHIP

Mayra Ruiz GallegosHello Carrington Flock! It’s time for another update. The final six weeks of my Pharmacy Technology program is at an externship site; this post is about my first day!I’m excited to be doing my externship at a family owned pharmacy in Tempe, AZ. We send medications out to assisted living homes and nursing facilities in the area.

I have classmates doing their externships in both veterinary & human compounding, at hospitals, at long-term care facilities and hospice pharmacies.

First Day Nerves

It’s actually quite similar to my old job in a mail-order pharmacy in that it’s not retail or in a hospital. But in my old job we used to send out 3 months of medications to patients nationwide, here we send out more regular distributions to patients in facilities in Arizona.

In the days before I started my externship I was nervous for sure; I’d knew I’d be dealing with real medication and real patients! I didn’t want to hurt someone with a mistake! It was nerve-wracking. But honestly I guess I was nervous because I didn’t know their process at the site.

As pharmacy technology students, we have the importance of ‘attention to detail’ drummed into us. We are repeatedly told that we have to be very careful with how we do things, and always stick with the process. I guess I was nervous because I didn’t know their process yet. What if I couldn’t get a handle on it? That was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things; it’s almost like going to the dentist – the anticipation was worse than the reality!

NDC Junkie

Once I got to my site, I discovered that it’s a family owned business. The owner works right next me; it’s a very relaxed, easy going atmosphere. They’re happy to teach me, and everyone there is so helpful. They encouraged me to always ask questions from that very first day. They told me I had to be an NDC junkie! [NDC is the National Drug Code – a universal product identifier for drugs].

Something that has been difficult for me to deal with is that they’re changing all their medications to a different provider. So I’m having to ask a lot of questions about that! We have to be extra careful not to give someone the wrong medication.

Of course I was nervous walking in that first day, but once I got there they were very, very welcoming. They walked me through the entire pharmacy. They showed me their process and then let me do my own thing. They weren’t behind me, staring over my shoulder, telling me what I was or wasn’t doing right. They made it clear that if I had any questions, that I should just walk over and ask at any time.

Learning Their Process

There are two different sides to the job of a pharmacy technician – the administrative side and the hands-on side. Both are just as important. In my extern site we have technicians who take the prescription information and put it into the system; the pharmacist then reviews it, and sends it on to another technician to fill. That’s my job at the moment.

When I’m done, I initial it to say I’ve checked it, and then give it to the pharmacist who verifies that it’s the correct medication and dosage. They then put the medication into a tote, and it gets given to a driver who delivers it to the facility that requested it.

Thanks for reading – next time I’ll share more thoughts about my externship, and how it compares to the classroom.

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