A Decade of Regulation: A Decade of Growth


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since legislation was passed in Alberta that recognized pharmacy technicians as regulated health professionals. For me, those regulations being enacted was a long time coming. I was so excited to finally be able to call myself a regulated healthcare professional that I showed up at the Alberta College of Pharmacists’ (this was prior to the name change) Monday morning, July 4, 2011 with my paperwork in hand. I walked away as the first registered pharmacy technician in Alberta.

I felt proud. I felt a sense of accomplishment. That was not only because I had spent time completing bridging education and writing national licensing and provincial jurisprudence exams but because I knew I was “officially” now part of a great profession. I don’t really remember what I envisioned for the first ten years of regulation. There were no guarantees – no warranties – of what the condition of the profession and my practice would be like. I think I knew, even then, that it would be what I made it. I welcomed the privilege and responsibility that came along with that.

I have worked alongside some amazing pharmacy professionals over the years. That includes pharmacy technicians who are experts in their practice areas. Pharmacy technicians who have dedicated themselves to growing personally and professionally. Pharmacy technicians who see the potential of our profession and want us to collectively succeed. Becoming connected with pharmacy technician colleagues across the province, Country and internationally has been one of the highlights for me. The list of pharmacy technicians that have in some way inspired me is much too long for this post. Please know that if our paths have crossed at some point over the past decade, your name is likely on that list.

I’ve also experienced the challenges that come along with, what I will describe as, being part of a young profession. Historically, pharmacy technicians were first identified as aides or assistants to pharmacists as early as the 1950s. While I believe regulation started to move us away from fulfilling a supportive role to being more of a collaborative partner, we haven’t yet fully embraced what that could mean. We are still building our professional identity – which I believe can include support as well as more independent roles. The opportunity I saw with regulation was a new level of autonomy for deciding how I practice and what comes next for us as a profession (even though at times it doesn’t always feel that way). I believe this is still one of the greatest opportunities we have ten years later. I will admit that sometimes it feels like the barriers are too great. Other times, I’ve probably gotten in my own way but I don’t let any of that stop me.

For me, the past decade of regulation has brought so many new opportunities. My guarantee – my ten year warranty – on this day to celebrate pharmacy technicians, is that I will continue to rise to new challenges. Whether your regulation date was ten years, or one year ago, it is all of our responsibility to help our profession grow. I plan to do what I can to see that happen but I can’t do it alone. Are you with me?

Add your regulation date to the comments below if you want to make the same commitment.

About the author: Since receiving her pharmacy technician diploma in 1998, Teresa Hennessey has practiced in front-line and leadership roles in both community and hospital pharmacies. Teresa is dedicated to helping pharmacy technician practice evolve and will share her ideas and opinions on this topic with whomever will listen.

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