Building Pharmacy Technician Resilience
by Rebecca Lynch, RPhT
What is resilience? Why is being resilient important?
To me, resilience is a quality one has when one can face challenges head-on with the ability to recover or bounce back from those challenges successfully. This quality can apply to many different situations and/or professions, but how does this apply to us as Pharmacy Technicians?
As a Pharmacy Technician, I think about how we take on most, if not all, technical aspects of providing patients, healthcare workers, or caregivers with medications, devices, or other products and services required for the best possible therapeutic care. More often now, our scope of practice continues to expand. With that, we may be required to obtain additional education to meet the requirements of our expanding role, all while maintaining full or part-time work and caring for our families and ourselves. This requires a lot of self-determination and motivation.
No matter the pharmacy environment, hospital, retail, long-term care, or other pharmacy workplaces, we all can get to the point of exhaustion or feel overwhelmed with the added pressures and responsibilities. Feeling pressure to meet the needs of patients and employers alike and dealing with upset customers and patients increase our workload. We may face unreasonable expectations, and we have professional requirements to maintain. These may present as both physical and emotional challenges.
Being resilient is important because it is almost impossible to present your best professional and empathetic self when you are stressed or faced with a problem. I say empathetic because this is an important emotional quality required in understanding that many of those we serve are possibly dealing with either acute or long-term health issues. You or I are not the cause of the responses we may receive.
While I may not be able to explain how others may deal with or address their pressures, I can explain how I build my resilience when facing challenges as a pharmacy technician. For me, this is continuous self-work. I hold myself to a high standard, sometimes too high. This is where that overwhelming feeling starts to creep in because I am only adding to that pressure by holding myself to an unreasonable or unattainable standard. Realizing that challenges are a reality of our profession helps reduce that overwhelming feeling. Notice how I use the word challenges? This is a big part of how I continue to maintain my resilience.
By viewing the difficulties in my profession, such as high expectations from those we serve or keeping up with the tasks assigned while staffing issues are at an all-time high, I view them as challenges. When faced with a challenge, I choose not to think of it as a problem. I used to, but I realized I needed to change how I viewed difficult situations. So I changed my mindset by viewing those situations as challenges. When faced with a challenge, I then reflect on what that challenge is and then switch my focus to finding a solution to overcome the challenge. I do not dwell on the challenge itself. I look to see what the challenge is and how I can overcome this challenge.
This is a period of self-reflection. Self-reflection is a personal tool I use to identify areas where I may need to set a personal or professional goal, understand the level at which I set my standard, or realize I need to take accountability for my own actions and responses. This helps me identify ways to cope with, prevent or improve moving forward when similar challenges arise. I maintain resilience with self-awareness and accept that change as well as challenges are a natural part of working with people. I do my very best to stay positive and maintain a hopeful outlook that what I do and how I respond only improves the safety and quality of the patient care that we as Pharmacy Technicians strive to provide.