The Compounding Chronicles: Attending ASHP’s Futures 2024

certifier standing outside of cleanroom

By Adam West, Course and Curriculum Manager at CriticalPoint

A Look Through a Certifier’s Lens

After attending the recent ASHP Pharmacy Futures conference, I realized there are many layers to the pharmacy world, and I am only part of a very specific section, which I already knew of course. However, what I didn’t know was exactly to what extent. My eyes were opened, not only in the regular sessions (where, frankly, I was second-guessing my choice to attend because I felt like I was in way over my head with regulatory and patient-care curricula), but also during the networking sessions.

I left each program with notable takeaways, even if I couldn’t wrap my head around every word. There are many struggles and challenges outside my world of facility design, control, certification, USP compliance,  and training that I never realized were a pain point for so many pharmacy professionals!

Pharmacy Workforce Is on the Decline

There was a session titled ‘Chutes and Ladders’, which gave me my first real look into a pharmacy management role with not only how to recruit compounding and pharmacy technicians, but also developing technicians’ ongoing careers. I simply did not know this was a thing! And I also discovered there’s a severe depletion of the pharmacy workforce. Not only is this a huge issue for pharmacies and patient care, but it carries through to my role as a training and competency educator in my line of business. If there’s no one to hire and no one to develop into a designated person (DP) or bring into a leadership role, pharmacy staff will continue to operate but become exhausted and burned out while battling their organization’s C-suite and HR department for solutions for staff support.

There’s no way I can share everything I learned, but if you know, you know (IYKYK). Either way, training and competency (T&C) continues to be a huge topic, even when there’s no one to seat in the classroom chairs. Logistically, T&C is a nightmare because pharmacists have a zillion other things to do that second, that minute, that day, that week, or that month. How will all of the in-between tasks be effectively and compliantly carried out?

Sessions Everyone Seemed to Attend

Session topics that are actually in my wheelhouse (certification, environmental monitoring [EM], and engineering controls) were informative and had a compelling perspective with pharmacists delivering presentations based on their experiences and what they labored to learn along the way. I say this all the time and in a few different ways, but I really feel for pharmacists because I had no idea of everything they do for their patients and organization as a staff member. They have to become chemists, microbiologists, engineers, lawyers, and regulatory affairs junkies all wrapped up in a PharmD; but I digress.

The EM sessions shed light on the interests of in-house solutions for sampling and subsequent analysis and the challenges they present. The certification sessions were particularly interesting because I was somewhat surprised—and at the same time not surprised—that this was not a “bash your certifier” culture in any way. CriticalPoint has been a huge advocate for building strong relationships between the pharmacy and certification organizations. So, when I heard folks saying things like, “Oh, I love my certifier,” or “Heck yeah! We lean on our certifiers very much to help navigate us through these specific compliance requirements,” my little certifier heart smiled!

In my opinion, it is imperative that the Controlled Environment Testing Association (CETA) take advantage of this need and develop more opportunities for building relationships between us (certifier and pharmacy) because there are still small gaps in knowledge and understanding between compliance needs and challenges and with general interest in the certification of engineering controls. CETA could be a pivotal resource for pharmacy professionals just with the CETA Application Guides (CAGs) it provides. CAGs are a bridgeway between USP chapter compliance and the specific details and best practices that the chapters can’t effectively detail.

My Final ASHP Pharmacy Futures Key Takeaways

Lastly, in every session regardless of the topic, I witnessed individual pharmacists maintaining their dedication to patient care even when “off the clock” and with no one looking. They work tirelessly to provide care and find solutions to a myriad of problems like drug shortages and care shortages in the rural community, even if their organization may be part of the challenge. As an outside onlooker who’s just a granule of the pharmacy world, it was amazing to watch. Seeing the care and concern for even a single patient was incredible and how much they love their job, their support staff, and technicians while also being exhausted by it all and, at times, downright frustrated with the evolution of pharmacy care red tape.

To ASHP and the people who attend these events, well done! “Keep up the good fight!” I met some fantastic people and made some really cool friends. I look forward to continuing to explore the other layers of the pharmacy world, and I hope to make an impactful difference anywhere I can.

Whether you’re a fan of CriticalPoint or our competition, our goals must be to provide solutions and be a resource for organizations AND individual pharmacists. Attending events like this one helps all of us take the pulse of the situation and determine how to support our customers with the current state of affairs! That is my dedication to you.

So as my team and I continue to support you and your pharmacy team, we hope to provide you resources that you can trust. Check out our trainings for more information.

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