Background: The field of pharmacy will benefit from pharmacy technicians, a higher educated mid-level support workforce. They support pharmacists in providing pharmaceutical patient care through delegated roles and responsibilities. Empirical research on pharmacy technicians within pharmacy practice community and hospital pharmacy practices tends to focus on the practical outcomes of this workforce addition. It mostly addresses the ‘WHAT’ of service delivered by pharmacy technicians. Literature on the ‘HOW’ of their role development in practice is scarce. Furthermore, it seems difficult for most pharmacy technicians to effectively fulfil this professional role.
Objective: This qualitative study explored factors influencing role development of pharmacy technicians in community and hospital pharmacies.
Methods: On site, individual and small-group interviews were conducted with pharmacy technicians (n = 10), and two colleagues: pharmacists (n = 7) and pharmacy assistants (n = 6). Interviews were based on a semi-structured interview guide. Participants were asked to describe specific incidents and organisational, relational and pharmaceutical care perspectives, illustrative of the process of developing and implementing the pharmacy technician role. Template analysis was used to develop a list of codes representing themes identified in the data.
Results: Five interrelated themes influenced development and implementation of the pharmacy technician role. Two of them were at a more contextual level: (a) experiencing a lack of vision on added value of the new role within the field of pharmacy and (b) learning climate. The other three were related to personal interactions between staff members: (c) role expectations and organisational fit, (d) personal traits of pharmacy technicians and (e) support of pharmacy technicians through task delegation and role enhancement.
Conclusions: The data showed that development and implementation of pharmacy technician roles is a complicated process. A detailed plan for addressing and remediating the five identified themes is important to promote role development of pharmacy technicians.