Caring personality in the pharmacy
December 12, 2011
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan - As a deployed pharmacy technician, Staff Sgt. Bridgette Bankhead, the pharmacy non-commissioned officer in charge assigned to the 125th Brigade Support Battalion, runs an essential war fighting support system that keeps Soldiers healthy and ready for combat.
For those in need of medication or questions about prescriptions, Bankhead is exactly where they want to go.
"I'm responsible for ordering medications and narcotics for the other combat outposts and forward operating bases throughout the brigade area of operation and multiple other things associated with the logistics ans storage of medications," said Bankhead. "Being able to help Soldiers, ones on the front lines and the support guys here is and always has been my favorite aspect of my job, being able to look at the symptoms and deciding which of multiple medicines would be best for the patient and advising the physician's assistants."
With family roots in the same profession, Bankhead, was destined for the medical community.
"I've always had an interest for the pharmacy," said Bankhead. "My father was a pharmacist, so I've always had a good idea for what it entailed from him, but I figured doing it for the Army would be a great stepping stone for me to learn if I had a passion for it."
With a smiling, dimpled face, and profound technical knowledge of her field, Bankhead reassures Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, that their medication will enhance their health and well being.
"I currently hold an associates degree from the North Dakota State College of Science in pharmacy technology," said Bankhead. "Being able to help Soldiers without the direct contact like doctors, nurses and medics is a comfortable fit for me, so I definitely plan on taking my skills and education to the next level to better help people."
A pharmacy technician must understand different body structures and different allergies and side effects, and someone as confident as Bankhead holds her head high knowing she is the go to person for the job.
"Recognizing that each patient can't take the same medication, this patient with these symptoms might have to take this medication but this patient with the same symptoms needs this one, and even though we may have five or six drugs that do the same thing, knowing how they will affect people differently is a huge part of what I do."
Back in the states, the functions of a pharmacy are very different from the functions in a combat zone, and with limitations and different environment comes adjustment.
"Here we treat normal day to day injuries and diseases, but the biggest difference and challenge would be treating the battlefield injuries that occur out here as well," said Bankhead. "I have to make sure the doctors and the physician assistants have what they need to treat these injuries correctly before we send them up to a higher level of care and also make sure that ever other pharmacy in our area of operations have the same medications that we carry here."
Being a spiritual person, she uses this to pull her through the rough times and situations that a combat deployment brings.
"I'm a very spiritual person, I use religion to get me through my day to day problems as well as my life issues," said Bankhead. "Pretty much my spirituality is my strength, I was raised that way, and I try to keep to the methods my family taught me."