October 28 is National Pharmacy Technician Day: Examining the Vital Role of Nuclear Pharmacy Techs

While working as a Nuclear Pharmacy Technician, prior to my role as Pharmacy Manager at Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division – Chicago South, I had the opportunity to work alongside some very talented people and build strong relationships. Particularly rewarding for me has been the ability to find solutions that help our customers serve their patients. 

A great example of this was during a 2013 Tc-99m pertechnetate shortage, when we were challenged to meet customer demand without our normal Mo-99/Tc-99m generator delivery.  Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, the major Tc-99m shortages of 2011 afforded us with experience in finding new ways to accommodate every patient dose possible. (For more on the “why” behind drug shortages, read Dr. Fred Gattas’ recent blog post.) 

By 2013, Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division's leadership was able to give us advance notice and vital product information.  We created a well-thought customer product plan, and our Pharmacists followed-through as efficiently as possible. This plan prioritized communication with our customers, giving them regular and specific information regarding what radiopharmaceuticals they could expect to receive for the entire shortage week. Armed with this information, I was able to effectively (and correctly) communicate with each customer and efficiently answer their questions regarding urgent patient needs. Once the shortage was over and we returned to full generator supply, customers called to thank me for the accurate communication they received during the shortage. Their positive feedback and compliments for a job well done is just one example of why I am proud to be a part of Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division's Chicago South Team.

THE ROLE OF THE NUCLEAR PHARMACY TECHNICIAN

The role of the Nuclear Pharmacy Technician is fast-paced, hands-on, highly responsible and extremely rewarding.  Clearly, NPTs play an important role ensuring that the patients served by customers of Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division have the nuclear medicine products and preparations they need on a timely basis. Additionally, the Technician role is one of the most versatile in the industry. Working under the direct supervision of a Nuclear Pharmacist, Technicians assist the Pharmacist in many ways — from recording and processing customer orders (depending on specific state laws) in the pharmacy computer system to drawing patient doses, performing quality control analysis of preparations, labeling and packaging radiopharmaceutical doses, and even delivering patient doses to customers when needed. 

Many NPTs are attracted to the profession due to the hands-on experience they receive working with RAM and the vital service they provide to patients in need of diagnosis or therapy.

Certification requirements are established by a state’s Board of Pharmacy as well as by the company for which you work. Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division sets a high training standard. A majority of our Techs have completed Nuclear Education Online’s Nuclear Pharmacy Technician Training program, which combines web-based training and math assessment with weeks of experiential training with an Authorized Nuclear Pharmacist.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

A typical workday for a NPT can unfold in many different ways, but the day often starts early. Many Technicians work the early shift, which typically starts between midnight and 2 a.m. In those wee hours of the morning, Technicians work alongside Pharmacists to draw most of the patient doses for the first and second daily production runs. Techs who work later in the day typically draw fewer doses, but have more next-day preparation and customer service-related responsibilities.

Many NPTs are attracted to the profession due to the hands-on experience they receive working with radioactive material and the vital service they provide to patients in need of diagnosis or therapy. At least that is how it is for me. Many of my colleagues also find the workplace atmosphere of a nuclear pharmacy to be more desirable than the common community pharmacy, because of the specialized nature and significance of patient care involved. And, for some, it can be a stepping-stone to becoming a Nuclear Medicine Technologist in a clinic or hospital setting where the Technologist administers the doses to the patients. 

Another option for an NPT is to perform administrative duties (in addition to their normal duties) for their specific Pharmacy Team. This role can be demanding but fulfilling with regard to helping customers with special product requests, price quotes, and whatever else may be needed. At Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division, typically this involves handling all of the Pharmacy inventory management, performing customer billing and invoicing, and processing the local Pharmacy’s payroll.     

At the end of the day, I consider myself blessed by the opportunity to be part of a successful team that includes a committed Pharmacy staff, an experienced and highly motivated Sales and Marketing Team, and a Home Office that provides thoughtful leadership and extensive support whenever needed. This company was built upon the hallmarks of excellence from our past and current leaders. If we continue to keep sight of the vision created by them, and continue to pursue excellence for our customers and the patients they serve, the future is full of possibilities.

In honor of National Pharmacy Technician Day — Jubilant Radiopharma Radiopharmacies Division recognizes the important and vital work of our many talented and committed Pharmacy Technician Team Members.