What Would You Do | How to Manage Inappropriate Work Conduct
Situation 4: Student pharmacy technician has poor work ethic
You are the director of an inpatient pharmacy. The local pharmacy technician school has contacted you about placing students with you for clinical rotations. The school sends over a 45 year old male student, who seems distant and non-talkative. After a short few days, you realize that the student also has poor work ethics such as being tardy daily without calling, ignoring incoming phone calls, and leaving a mess after his work. On the 5th day, he asks for permission to make sterile intravenous drugs. However, you feel uncomfortable about him making IVs even though the skill is required during his rotation.
What would you do?
By: Lois Bui, Pharm. D.
As we embark on our healthcare training, it is important to take that training seriously. Lives are at stake and it is our job to ensure that patients receive the utmost proper care.
In this scenario, the student has poor work ethics, which would result in disciplinary action for any employee. After the 3rd day, the director has every right to speak with the student and inform them that the behavior is unacceptable and will be reported to the school. Not only should the demeanor be verbally addressed, it should also be noted in their evaluations. This approach should not come as a surprise to the student. Prior to rotations, all students are given an orientation regarding rules and responsibilities to be followed.
On the 5th day, the student asks to make sterile intravenous drugs. If the director feels uneasy about the student’s work, then the director has a right to deny the request. There is no room for errors in an IV room, let alone in a pharmacy. In addition, errors are extremely difficult to detect in a finished IV product. However, if the student desires to learn the skill, the director may teach and supervise him while making practice inert IVPBs (“dummies” with no intention of administration). They should be discarded immediately so that they are not inadvertently used for patient care. Regardless of what skill is required from the school, it is necessary to maintain patient safety at all times. The skill may be taught, but not at the risk of the patients.
For students who wish to avoid this type of conflict, it is simple. Regard clinical rotations as jobs and respect the rules of the staff and facility. The opportunity to go onsite is not only to practice “hands-on” and earn a passing grade. It is to help OPEN doors for you… the future employee.
About the Authors and Series
What Would You Do is a weekly column highlighting real life cases involving pharmacist-related work conflicts. Authors include Karine Wong, Pharm. D. and Lois Bui, Pharm. D. Karine has a 10 year history of working in hospital management, and 2 years as a graveyard hospital pharmacist and outpatient pharmacist. Lois has an extensive history working in HR management prior to her pharmacy career.
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