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Navy pharmacy techs support COVID-19 and MHS GENESIS efforts

Image of Navy personnel in a pharmacy. With October designated as American Pharmacist Month and Oct. 18-24 as National Pharmacy Week, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (Surface Warfare designated) Aaron Souders, of Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Oak Harbor is a prime example of how Navy pharmacy technicians not only handle such behind the scene duties as preparing and dispensing prescribed medicine and pharmaceutical preparations, but also are actively engaged in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 (Official Navy photo by Patricia Rose, NMRTC Oak Harbor public affairs officer).

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This week, the Defense Health Agency celebrates National Pharmacy Week. 

Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aaron Souders, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Oak Harbor, is one of many dedicated pharmacy technicians deployed across the globe in support of our 9.6 million beneficiaries.

After completing his initial hospital corpsman training, Souders then took specialty training to become a pharmacy technician, and now serves as the leading petty officer in NMRTC Oak Harbor’s pharmacy department.

In his current role, the 19-year Navy Medicine veteran now helps prepare and dispense prescribed medicines and pharmaceutical preparations; compound preparations according to prescriptions issued by medical officers; procure, store and issue pharmaceutical materials and supplies; and maintain files and records and submit required pharmacy reports.

“I joined with the hopes of becoming an information systems technician specializing in computers and communications,” said Souders, who has his associates in science in computer information systems. “Choosing to become a hospital corpsman has allowed me to serve my country and apply my technical ability to a field that has evolved to be forever dependent on the world of information technology in a positive way.”

“I wasn’t interested initially, but choosing a career as an hospital corpsman introduced diversity into my technical skillset and added a healthcare aspect which enabled me to be more in tune with the capabilities of Sailors and their ability to care for others,” said Souders. “It caught my eye due with its heavy involvement with every aspect of the healthcare field, and it had a very technical side that intrigued me.”

“It means being a part of a large interconnected team of professionals that take care of our service members and their families and have the ability to make positive changes that impact the way we deliver care to all branches of the service,” Souders stated.

As with other staff members, Souders is continually involved in helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We have implemented a variety of controls and mitigation strategies to help slow the spread and help our patients get the medications they need.  I believe everyone at NHCOH has worked together well as a team to accomplish this and make it as painless as possible,” Souders said.

Some of the modifications include installed plexi-glass window guards at each window and appropriate spacing of lobby seating and floor markings

With the initial deployment of the Department of Defense electronic health record MHS GENESIS at NMRTC Oak Harbor in 2017, Souders became part of Navy Medicine’s extensive preparation and intensive training to keep pace with medical advances and technological innovations to enhance high quality healthcare.

“As with any new system, it has had its share of ups and downs. Initially it slowed us down and added a huge learning curve,” explained Souders. “The upgrade was needed to improve multi-service connectivity. Being one of the initial operating capability sites has given us a chance to change and mold the system to work for us.

MHS GENESIS is designed to provide a single integrated electronic health record for service members, veterans and their families that will integrate inpatient and outpatient medical and dental information across the continuum of care, from point of injury – whether ship, shore, submarine, squadron - to the military hospital or clinic.

“Being able to see medication profiles for a patient across multiple MHS GENESIS sites regardless of the service branch is a great improvement,” added Souders.

Navy Medicine has taken Souders from his rural Georgia, being stationed at Whidbey Island, Washington; Jacksonville, Florida; on the island of Guam; and a deployment on the USS Whidbey Island.

“Navy Medicine has taken my family and me from the east coast shore duty to shipboard duty to overseas and west coast duty,” shared Souders. “I was stationed, deployed, and able to visit so many places that I never thought we would ever have the chance to see and would love to visit again.”

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