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Zachary Tolman

Zachary Tolman


University of Utah, Huntsman Cancer Hospital

Salt Lake City, UT

Why I Do What I Do

I started in retail pharmacy and aspired to be a pharmacist. I excelled at solving complex problems, many of which involved insurance and billing. Late 2014 I shifted to a health-system setting. I loved being encouraged to focus on the patients rather than numbers. I joined and now supervise a unique team of Medication Access Coordinator technicians. We eliminate barriers to access for our cancer patients' oral, injectable, and infused medications. The work is difficult and often requires improvisation, but it is very meaningful and rewarding.

Gaining access to medications is a complex and arduous process. Relieving patients of this burden, so they can focus on recovering and spending time with loved ones, gives me great satisfaction. I also enjoy interacting with practitioners, who I enable to focus on treating and caring for the patient. Since starting this, I have abandoned my plans for pharmacy school. I've found purpose in this work and can't see myself finding similar employment as a pharmacist.

Volunteering for USHP has also become part of my life. I want other technicians to find their own niche and expand their own field of practice. I believe doing so will point them toward success, involvement, recognition, and feelings of accomplishment.

Latest Accomplishment

I was elected as the USHP Board Liaison for the Technician Committee. My team was awarded the USHP 2017 Pharmaceutical Care Practice Award. I was also honored as the USHP 2017 Pharmacy Technician of the Year. I've presented for USHP and local organizations on topics centered on medication access, financial toxicity, and community involvement for new technicians. Most recently I've been working to spread awareness of emerging copay accumulator adjustment policies and combat their impact to vulnerable patient populations.

Most Memorable Experience as a Pharmacy Technician

I recall the second day of my externship: a man approached the window, pushed a gun in my face, and said, "Give me the Lortab!" I survived. The pharmacist hired me immediately as "pharmacy-muscle" for shifts when she was alone.

I also remember working with a substitute pharmacist who later became my first real mentor. She was the first pharmacist to judge me by merit rather than tenure. I was later transferred to her store where she had me respect the law but never accept any other limitations. She always expected more from me and then allowed me to meet those expectations.

My Passion Outside of Work

It's probably obvious that my work is my passion. I enjoy relaxing and playing at home with my wife and two kids. When life allows, I like playing paintball with my brothers-in-law. It's the only sport I've found that motivates me to push myself.

Latest Book Read

For work: The Outward Mindset by The Arbinger Institute. For pleasure: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

Advice to Up-and-Coming Technicians

First, and I cannot emphasize this enough, find something to be passionate about! It makes a visible difference in your work and in interviews when you're there for more than a paycheck. Find your passion and own it. Second, try new things. If you aren't sure about it, ask questions. Worst case: you hear "No."

Keep in mind the pharmacy community is very connected. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. Don't be afraid to take a little extra time to make someone's day. Word-of-mouth will either work for you or against you. Finally, get involved in the community. Volunteer with your local pharmacy associations. It won't take as much of your time as you might think. It demonstrates commitment to the profession and creates opportunities.

Most people think that pharmacy is all about drugs, but I disagree. At its core, pharmacy is really all about people. If you want to be successful, treat them accordingly.

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