Innovations-Magazine-May-2023 - 6

Amy Branson, PharmD, RPh
Pharmacy Inspector, Virginia Department of Health Professions
How long have you been serving
as a pharmacist inspector for the
Board? What was your prior role?
I have served three years as a pharmacy
inspector in the enforcement division of the
Virginia Department of Health Professions.
Prior to my role as an inspector, I spent two
and a half years as a pharmacy manager/
clinical pharmacist at a small hospital in
Virginia and seven and a half years as a
pharmacy manager at an independent retail
pharmacy in Virginia.
Virginia Board
of Pharmacy
Number of Board
8 pharmacist members
and 2 public members
Number of Compliance
11 (Seven pharmacy
inspectors assigned to
inspect pharmacies;
four non-pharmacist
inspectors assigned to
inspect other facilities
licensed by the Board.)
Rules & Regulations
Established by
Board of Pharmacy
Number of
Pharmacist Licensees
Number of
Number of
What tools or skills are a must-have
in a pharmacist inspector's toolkit?
Inspectors must have a particular set of skills,
acquired over a long career, and inspector
experience does not come preloaded into the
new inspector toolkit. Further, inspections
can be hectic, with all the normal activities
of pharmacy operations taking place while
the pharmacy staff provides regulatory
information to the inspector. An inspector
needs keen observational and multitasking
skills in order to be able to monitor the many
facets of the pharmacy operation and staff,
while addressing the original task. A pharmacy
inspector must possess an inquisitive nature
and strong communication skills to help them
assess each situation appropriately and fairly.
What are some common issues
that you have witnessed and
addressed as a pharmacist
inspector with the Board?
Unfortunately, the coronavirus disease 2019
pandemic and other issues in our profession
have placed increased demands on pharmacists
and pharmacy technicians in providing
patient care. One challenging situation
facing pharmacists, pharmacy technicians,
patients, and inspectors is pharmacy working
conditions. Pharmacies face challenges such
as insufficiently trained staff, and staff face
challenges such as lack of adequate time to
complete professional duties or take breaks to
avoid fatigue or distraction. This can lead to
delays or mistakes in patient care. My number
one priority is to ensure that patient care
4 | MAY 2023
services are safely provided in compliance
with pharmacy laws and regulations.
In Virginia, do pharmacist
inspectors conduct investigations
for other health regulatory boards?
Other regulatory boards, such as the Virginia
Board of Medicine, may occasionally request
assistance in conducting inspections. Virginia's
medical marijuana program is currently
regulated by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy
but will transition to the Cannabis Control
Authority sometime next year.
Is there an inspection experience
for the Board of Pharmacy that
you found particularly interesting,
egregious, or unusual?
During multiple pharmacy investigations,
I discovered that pharmacists were diverting
controlled substances for their personal use.
It really disheartens me to see the hold that
addiction has over some people, especially
fellow pharmacists. I urge any practitioner
struggling with addiction to seek help
through their state's health care practitioner
monitoring program. Enrolling could be a
life-or-death decision.
What advice would you give to a
new board inspector?
Be a lifelong learner. The more I learn about
the different aspects of pharmacy, the more
opportunities for professional growth and
expansion I have. Also, rely on your fellow
inspectors. Being an inspector can sometimes
be a difficult and isolating experience, and
your visits are not always joyfully received.
Remember that answers to questions, advice,
or commiseration are only a phone call
away. I attribute my successful integration
as an inspector to my fellow inspectors, who
always offer levelheaded advice and positive
encouragement during tough inspections.
Stay professional. No matter the inspection
outcome or demeanor of those around you,
be kind, fair, and professional, and when in
doubt, consult the Board. It is always there
to provide clarification in tough situations.


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Innovations-Magazine-May-2023

Innovations-Magazine-May-2023 - 1
Innovations-Magazine-May-2023 - 2
Innovations-Magazine-May-2023 - 3
Innovations-Magazine-May-2023 - 4
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Innovations-Magazine-May-2023 - 6
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