Pharmacy Technicians are essential health professionals with a defined set of skills that positively impact patients and pharmacy practice. This is the reason the Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta exists! Our purpose is to advocate, educate, and inspire in order for this statement to always ring true for pharmacy technicians, patients and our healthcare professional colleagues.
Regulation was the foundation to support our successful practice but now we need to grow as a profession. With input from the membership, the PTSA Board set a Strategic Plan to guide and focus the work we do to achieve this. This Annual Report post will provide you with a look back on the objectives that were prioritized for the first year spent realizing the strategic plan.
Engaging with the Membership
PTSA is a member-run organization – this means that pharmacy technician members do the work. These individuals have dedicated thousands of hours of their time to PTSA this past year and without them our Society would not function. Read more about the 2017-18 board and committee members.
PTSA’s membership is comprised of about 600 pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants. Approximately, 90% of the members are Full Pharmacy Technician Members – pharmacy technicians that are licensed in Alberta. The remainder is comprised of students, unregulated pharmacy staff and pharmacy technicians from other provinces. In follow-up to the introduction of the new web-based registration system in 2016, updates were made to the system this past year to ensure that membership processes continue to comply with the bylaws.
Engaging the membership through communication strategies is important for achieving our mission. The PTSA Blog and website posts provide the foundation for our communication strategies. In addition to posts from Communications Editor, Laura Miskimins and board contributors Rhonda Bodnarchuk, Kim Fehr, Teresa Hennessey, Diane Reeder, Engi Saleh, and Crystal Schultz, we welcomed new bloggers Jennifer Bean, Kelly Boparai, Linda Eckel, Dana Lyons, Jody Read, and Tana Yoon. This past year PTSA also increased our social media presence using Facebook and Twitter to share key messages with members and engage with pharmacy technicians more broadly.
Supporting pharmacy technicians entering the workforce was also a focus of the work completed this past year. Early awareness and involvement with PTSA can help new pharmacy technicians to be successful. Through partnerships with pharmacy technician schools, PTSA continued to provide presentations to pharmacy technician students. Additionally, work has started to have PTSA membership embedded into program tuition fees for students. This year, PTSA welcomed 17 new student members from one school as part of this project.
PTSA continues to recognize the contributions to our profession by recognizing one member each year to receive the Professionalism Award. The 2017 winner of our award was Peggy Pischke. Read more about why Peggy was selected as the recipient.
Integrating Pharmacy Technicians into Practice
There are many opportunities for pharmacy technicians to work within current practice models to the greatest extent possible. The integration of pharmacy technicians into practice can be achieved, in part, by promoting the value of pharmacy technicians. One way PTSA worked to achieve this goal is by utilizing the blog and social media to share stories and profile successful pharmacy technicians.
The first three pharmacy technicians to be spotlighted in our ongoing Success Stories series are Melissa Fingas, Shellie Kirkham, and Loren Voice. Each with unique practices, one thing these individuals have in common is their passion for the profession and pride for being a pharmacy technician.
There are other ways we shared in our profession’s success. Pharmacy technicians are continuing to grow as leaders. Jennifer Bean shared with us her ACP Leadership Symposium Experience and Dana Lyons introduced us to Leading from Every Seat. Pharmacy technicians are also finding new ways of contributing directly to patient care. Through Laura Miskimins’ post about a pharmacy technician-led event we experienced how pharmacy technicians have been successful Providing Opioid Response Kits. Tana Yoon also reminded us about having empathy When Connecting with Our Patients.
Effort was also made this year to recruit members to committees to build on the work in achieving this goal. For next year, work will focus on developing tools to support pharmacy technicians working to their full scope of practice.
Providing Continuing Education
Having access to quality development opportunities is important for pharmacy technicians to meet professional expectations. In order to meet this need, PTSA puts a significant amount of work into providing quality continuing education designed for, and authored by, pharmacy technicians that is accessible across the province.
One way this is accomplished was by launching an online education platform. Two courses are currently available, with work to add more in progress. The majority of courses will be exclusively available to PTSA members with a limited number of education options available as open access for anyone to complete.
Seven Tips for Creating a Conference Poster (open access)
In addition to taking advantage of technology that allows for the online provision of education, members have reinforced the desire for in-person education events. Techs in Touch Continuing Education Events continued to be hosted in Edmonton and Calgary. Additionally, collaboration between PTSA, the Alberta College of Pharmacy, Alberta Pharmacists Association and Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists-Alberta Branch resulted in the first joint symposium in October 2017. At the joint symposium, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists learned more about the opioid crisis and how it affects our communities from the people who deal with it every day.
Continuing to provide the annual conference is a standing objective for PTSA. This year, the objective of increasing the number of pharmacy technicians teaching continuing education was incorporated into conference planning. The 2018 conference program has been fulfilled by having 100% pharmacy technician speakers. Work also started this past year to reformat the Basic Writing Skills and Research workshop that was piloted in the spring of 2018 so that it can be offered online. Read about Linda Eckel’s experience at the workshop.
Influence Pharmacy Issues
PTSA has a role to play in advocating for changes within the pharmacy profession and broader healthcare environment. It also means we will provide opportunities for pharmacy technicians to evolve their roles. In 2018, PTSA published a position paper about the role pharmacy technicians play in the handling of narcotic and controlled drugs. Through a Call to Action pharmacy technicians are encouraged to share this position statement broadly to build awareness that action is needed now. PTSA will use this paper in conversations with regulators and other stakeholders about the need for changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and related regulations to recognize the role of pharmacy technicians.
In an effort to build on our advocacy efforts, this past year PTSA representatives met with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, Pharmaceutical & Supplementary Benefits, to introduce the department to our organization and discuss the role of pharmacy technicians. We talked about our current scope of practice and the value that pharmacy technicians can provide to Albertans’ care by expanding our scope even further to include activities such as the administration of vaccines. It was a good introductory meeting and we committed to keeping in contact with the department’s representatives to understand how we can work together on initiatives of mutual interest. The development of a framework that will enable the injection of drugs and vaccines by pharmacy technicians is currently prioritized for work in year three of our strategic cycle.
Celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary
In 2008, PTSA was formed to enhance upon the strength and leadership of Alberta pharmacy technicians shown over the last several decades. Our anniversary year provided a great opportunity to celebrate pharmacy technicians and have a bit of fun in the process. During Pharmacy Awareness Month a pin campaign helped do just that. Members were encouraged to wear their pins proudly and use the pins as conversation starters with patients and other healthcare professionals in order to promote ourselves and our profession.
More information about the operational state of the organization will be discussed at the Annual General Meeting in Calgary, September 15, 2018. Members can access the AGM materials including the draft minutes from last year as well as draft financial statements in advance of the meeting.
What strategy and work accomplished this past year is most important to you? Are there things you’d like to see PTSA work on that have not already been identified? Share your thoughts in the comments below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.