Pharmacy Technicians and the #PizzaIsNotWorking Movement


by Savannah Nazarek, CPhT

The role of a pharmacy technician has changed substantially over the past couple of decades. Before, technicians were considered the “clerks” of the pharmacy as they greeted patients and took care of them at the checkout.

Now, pharmacy technicians have increased responsibilities such as data entry, filling orders, and taking care of insurance issues. The pharmacy technician role has slowly evolved more to a pharmacist role without the need for a formal PharmD education. Also, pharmacy technicians in certain states need to be licensed and/or hold a pharmacy technician certification.

If desired, technicians can increase their work responsibilities or specialize with numerous certifications out there. Many issues have emerged with the increase in responsibilities and requirements that a pharmacy technician holds. Over the past several years, this has become an issue and defined more recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


What is the #PizzaIsNotWorking Movement?

The #PizzaIsNotWorking movement is a catchphrase to show that pharmacy staff is not motivated by an occasional pizza. This movement was started by Bled Tanoe, PharmD, and has since caught fire across social media, highlighting the more significant issue. In the pharmacy profession, we are healthcare providers that many patients see on a regular basis, some as often as weekly. Keeping up with our workflow, corporate metrics, and the needs of our patients, there are times that it can get very overwhelming.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, so much has changed in the pharmacy profession with the billing procedure, medications, and protocols for vaccines and COVID tests. Due to these changes and the increase in volume, pharmacies nationwide are experiencing a technician shortage and other pharmacists. This is primarily due to burnout and the current increase in wages in much lower-stress jobs.


Why does this apply to us?

This movement applies to us because this movement is ABOUT US! Dr. Tanoe started this movement to get the word out about how pharmacy staff is treated behind the scenes.

As mentioned before, burnout is a significant cause of the decrease in pharmacy staff. Technicians carry a huge responsibility while working in a pharmacy setting. Out of all allied health professions, pharmacy technicians are paid the least amount for our work.


What can YOU do?

There are numerous things that we can do. Starting with burnout, put yourself and your needs first. Take care of yourself and have some well-deserved time off, if needed.

Pharmacy technicians, as a profession, have worked so hard over the past two-plus years, and we do not get the credit that we deserve. Speak up about issues, and let the management team know what is going on in the pharmacy. A lot of times, metrics can be adjusted.

I have witnessed this at my former high-traffic store. A lot of work was lifted off of our shoulders because we spoke up about our issues. Many things have changed, and because of it, corporate got involved and got them the help they needed, and they are running smoothly and efficiently now. Nothing can truly change unless it is brought to the attention of someone who can fix it.

Lastly, spread the word! The #PizzaIsNotWorking movement was meant to explain to others not in the pharmacy profession what we go through “behind closed doors.” It is a topic that SHOULD be talked about. Bringing awareness to this movement will jumpstart a change in the pharmacy profession and become better for us in the long run.


What NPTA has to offer

As mentioned above, the burnout rate in the pharmacy is extremely high. If you are experiencing burnout in your position and need some tips on how to counter it or how to deal with what burnout does to you, you can read our blog article “How to Avoid Burnout” or read the cover story of our 2021 Sept-Oct Issue of CPhT CONNECT the Magazine for Pharmacy Technicians titled, “Letting Go of Burnout & Cultivating Joy.”

We also have a two-part interview with Dr. Tanoe discussing the #PizzaIsNotWorking movement! In this episode, Dr. Tanoe explains how the movement started and her ultimate goal in creating this movement.

You can listen to those episodes here:

Episode 19 - #PizzaIsNotWorking Part 1 ft. Bled Tanoe

Episode 20 - #PizzaIsNotWorking Part 2 ft. Bled Tanoe