Interview with Emiry Brade, CPhT at Walgreens Pharmacy

We recently had the opportunity to interview Emiry Brade, a Certified and Licensed Pharmacy Technician. She has almost 2 years of pharmacy technician work experience. In this interview, she shares her career journey and advice for interested individuals looking to enter this healthcare field.

What is it that you do in your current role as a pharmacy technician?

Emiry Brade Pharmacy Technician

I am currently employed at Walgreens Pharmacy in Walker, Louisiana as a Licensed Pharmacy Technician. My responsibilities include checking out customers, typing prescription information, filling prescriptions with medication, pulling and deleting old prescriptions, contacting patients regarding their prescriptions, contacting insurance for claim information and resolution, scanning inventory, administration of COVID tests, administration of vaccinations, and assisting customers with their needs.

How many years have you worked as a pharmacy technician?

I have worked as a pharmacy technician for almost two years, which have been spent at the current Walgreens I work at.

Can you tell us why you decided to become a pharmacy technician and how you got started?

I decided to become a pharmacy technician while I was a senior in High School. I knew I would need a stable job while attending college, and my cousin suggested the field as an option. Therefore, I researched more about the requirements needed to become certified and licensed, both in Louisiana and Texas (where I am originally from).

In High School, I took a PTCE preparation course through Blinn College which helped me gain the necessary resources needed to pass the PTCE. I then took the test and passed.

After passing the test, I applied for a Pharmacy Technician Candidate License in Louisiana while I gained the 600 hours of work needed to complete my licensure. Subsequently, I applied for a job at Walgreens pharmacy, and I received an offer for the position which I accepted. After working the 600 hours, I applied to be fully licensed in the state of Louisiana.

I additionally applied to be licensed in Texas (and was approved) as this is where I am from. I decided to take the test (PTCE) without going through a full certification program in order to save time and money. Although I believe it would’ve helped prepare me more for my position in the field, the cost of completing pharmacy certification school was too much at the time.

Can you describe what a typical day looks like for you?

A typical day at work mainly consists of sorting prescription bags into their necessary places and checking out patients with their prescriptions. The day is usually busy, and in between customers other tasks are completed, such as cleaning and filling prescriptions.

Towards the middle of the day, after the morning rush of patients having picked up and dropped off their prescriptions, I make the necessary patient calls to remind them about their medication and various insurance claims. 

While on the phone, I tend to multitask and scratch out medication bottles (with patient personal information) to be sorted and placed back on the stock shelves. After completing calls, I help put the prescriptions that were not picked up on time back on the shelf and take turns with my coworkers on drive through and lobby assistance.  The day ends with taking out the trash, sweeping the floor, wiping down counters, collecting DPI, and taking the tills out of the registers.

Can you share how has the career path of the pharmacy technician evolved post-pandemic?

I entered the profession at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This came with extreme challenges that tested the role of each pharmacy team member, including the pharmacy technician. With the demand for COVID tests and COVID vaccines, more responsibilities were given to technicians. Not only did the need for technicians to be immunization certified skyrocket, but so did the need for technicians in general.

With the new expanded roles of the pharmacy technicians to process vaccines and tests in addition to the challenges of health concerns with COVID-19, my pharmacy was at an all time high for staffing shortages. Now, however, the workplace has become far less stressful (about two years later). With COVID-19 cases decreasing, so have the need for testing resources. This has lightened the workload of pharmacies everywhere, in addition to the decreased demand for vaccines.

When the COVID-19 vaccines were first released, my pharmacy would compete over 50 vaccinations a day. Now, we only do 2 a day, if we are lucky. This is a huge weight lifted off of technicians shoulders, as we do not have to process vaccinations and administer them.

Where do you see this role taking you or where do you envision the expansion of your area of specialty?

My role as a pharmacy technician has given me the opportunity to connect with a broad group of people and learn valuable communication skills. I plan to become a specialized compounding technician in the future, as I enjoy compounding very much.

Additionally, I know the skills I have learned over the past two years will benefit me in my long term career goal of being an elementary teacher.

What advice would you give to prospective pharmacy technicians who are just starting their careers?

The advice I would give to a new technician would be to be patient and not to take negative circumstances personally. Often in the pharmacy, people will yell at you and say negative things towards you. In order to move past this, try to stay positive and patient with the patients, as they may be struggling with an illness or hardship we may not understand. If you are compassionate and positive, you will thrive more than if you are negative and bitter.