It’s been another exciting year for the Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta. Work is well underway to achieve the objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan in our efforts to advocate, educate and inspire pharmacy technicians. This Annual Report post will provide you with a look back on the year and the successes we’ve had in achieving our goals.
Celebrating Our Profession
One of the highlights of the past year was the proclamation of October 16, 2018 as Pharmacy Technician Day in Alberta. Celebrated the third Tuesday of October, RxTechDay has grown to be an opportunity for Pharmacy Technicians across the world to come together to recognize and promote our essential role in the healthcare system. On RxTechDay, the pride we have as pharmacy technicians was echoed loudly across the profession with many members taking the opportunity to participate in the day’s festivities.
Throughout the day, PTSA shared pics and posts highlighting key pieces of the pharmacy technician’s role. If you missed the posts, take a look at the picture gallery here. Big thanks to our representative pharmacy technician models: Carla Dumka, pharmacy technician at the Canmore General Hospital, Brenda Weselowski, pharmacy technician at Allin Pharmacy in Edmonton, and Romelie Hillman, pharmacy technician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. Our vision was brought to life by Ghia Marie Photography. Click here to read more about how Alberta pharmacy technicians celebrated RxTechDay 2018. Plans are underway to make RxTechDay 2019 just as exciting. You can take part in the RxTechDay 2019 Scavenger Hunt or attend the Pride in the Profession session presented by Tiana Cunningham, RPhT.
Only a few months later, PTSA was able to promote the pharmacy team: pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants during Pharmacy Awareness Month (PAM). Another pin campaign gave members the opportunity to promote our role and have a bit of fun in the process. During PAM 2019, the updated Getting To Know Your Pharmacy Technician Pamphlet was released.
Strong Representative Governance
This past year saw the largest volunteer board appointed in recent history. A total of 13 full pharmacy technician members from across the province comprised the slate of nominations at the 2018 annual general meeting. Due to personal conflicts, three of the elected directors stepped down from the board. The remaining board members, lead by President Kim Fehr, comprised a strong board with pharmacy technicians who bring varied practice experiences and perspectives to the leadership table. Tana Yoon, PTSA’s former Advocacy Director South also completed her position as a board director this past year in order to pursue a new position with the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities’ (NAPRA) board. Tana is the first pharmacy technician to be appointed to the NAPRA board. You can read more about Tana’s appointment here.
For several years PTSA had contracted the services of an administrative assistant to help the board keep the Society running. This role has been an invaluable support to the board and committees, helping with the Society’s operations, but also providing a point of contact for general membership inquiries. In an effort gain efficiencies from the budget allocated to administrative activities and supplement PTSA’s current governance structure, a new Administrator position was created to replace the administrative assistant position and gain administrative leadership. Former board member, Teresa Hennessey, was contracted to fulfill this role for a two year period. Over the next two years, the board will evaluate how this new position impacts our ability to meet our goals. Click here to read about how the board expects this position to improve operations.
Engaging the Membership
As part of RxTechDay celebrations, PTSA offered a free membership opportunity for current and new PTSA members. As a result, membership numbers exceeded the 1000 member mark. Alberta pharmacy technicians recognize the value of the united voice we share as members of PTSA and membership numbers are holding. As of August 16, 2019, 810 pharmacy technicians, assistants and supporters of our profession were members of PTSA
Engaging the membership through communication strategies continues to be important for PTSA. Bloggers Vanyelle Behr, Nick Burns, Ghia Colceriu, Carla Dumka and Morgan Lahl joined the group of members that make sharing information through the PTSA Blog possible. This past year PTSA also increased our social media presence and offered more ways to stay connected. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, PTSA increased our presence on LinkedIn and Instagram.
PTSA continues to recognize the contributions to our profession by recognizing one member each year to receive the Professionalism Award. The 2018 winner of the award was Tana Yoon.
During the 28th Annual Alberta Pharmacy Technician Conference, PTSA also hosted the first annual Welcome Ceremony, recognizing achievement of the milestone of registering as a Pharmacy Technician in Alberta for the first time. New Pharmacy Technicians were presented with an RPhT pin as a symbol of their official entry into the profession.
Through the Success Stories blog series spotlight we met four more Pharmacy Technicians this past year who demonstrate the diversity and potential of our profession:
Morgan Lahl started her pharmacy journey at the early age of 16, her high school (in Texas) offered a practicum placement at a community pharmacy. Years later she moved to Calgary, where she took the pharmacy technician course at Robertson College. She later returned to Robertson College as an instructor and practices in a specialized setting at the Southern Alberta Clinic.
Throughout her career as a pharmacy technician, Regan Tattersall has seen significant change. She finds that her practice in a rural hospital pharmacy has allowed her to be challenged and accept responsibility for the activities that fit her capabilities as a professional. That has included planning for new pharmacy infrastructure and improving sterile compounding services.
Working in a rural community of about 8000, Kyle McDonald has lots of opportunity to build relationships with patients and really get to know them. It helps him better respond to his patients’ needs. Kyle is always up for new challenges and believes there is more opportunity for pharmacy technicians to expand their practice by collaborating with pharmacists to implement care plans.
Recalling her experiences during the wildfires that affected northern Alberta this past summer, Kathy Parsons hopes it doesn’t happen again, but says it was an overall great experience. Kathy is a pharmacy technician at High Level Valu Drugs IDA. Along with her pharmacy team, Kathy made sure everyone displaced from their homes during the wildfires were still able to access their medications and pharmacy services when they needed it most.
Several initiatives this past year had the cross-functional goals of promoting practice and providing professional development opportunities. In March, Meghan O’Neill, R.Ph.T, presented PTSA’s first live web-based Techs in Touch Event by sharing her experiences practicing to full scope. Read highlights from Meghan’s presentation here. Members can access a recording on the session through the Education Courses platform.
This past year PTSA also created the first of an informational videos series that can be shared with the public to help with understanding about how a pharmacy technician can help patients the most. The videos are also meant to help pharmacy teams integrate pharmacy technicians working to full scope of practice. The first video demonstrates the pharmacy technician’s role helping a patient to use a blood pressure monitor.
Providing Continuing Education
PTSA strives to have quality continuing education available designed for, and authored by, pharmacy technicians that is accessible in a number of ways. In addition to the recording of Meghan O’Neill’s presentation: Pharmacy Technicians as Part of the Community Pharmacy Team, a new self-study course on Using Knowledge and Research Application in Practice was introduced this year. You can find out more about the work underway to develop new continuing education courses in June’s Education Update.
The Advocacy Committee was hard at work this past year working on initiatives to influence pharmacy issues.
For the last several years, advocating for revisions to federal narcotic legislation to allow pharmacy technicians a greater role in handling controlled substances has been a priority for PTSA. In March of this year, Health Canada opened a consultation period seeking feedback in all areas of pharmacy practice in anticipation of proposed amendments to the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR), the Benzodiazepines and Other Targeted Substances Regulations (BOTSR) and the Food and Drug Regulations – Part G (FDR – Part G). This provided the perfect opportunity for PTSA to provide detailed comments on what the proposed amendments should be. Click here to read about how this work unfolded and the response that was provided to the consultation request.
The need to clarify the Pharmacy Technician’s scope of practice and the role of pharmacy assistants has been identified by the membership as an important issue. The advocacy committee and board dedicated a significant amount of time to discussing this issue and outlining initiatives to improve clarity in this area. The PTSA Job Posts board provides a free option for pharmacy employers to recruit for pharmacy technician and pharmacy assistant positions. At times, employers submit job post requests that do not sufficiently clarify whether the employer is seeking a pharmacy technician or pharmacy assistant. As of this past year, only job ads that provide this clarity will be posted on the PTSA website. The advocacy committee also kicked off a campaign to provide education to employers about this issue. PTSA will contact employers of job advertisements that conflate the role of pharmacy assistants with pharmacy technicians. You can read more about this initiative here and contact the advocacy.director@ptsa to report a problematic job ad. More initiatives to support this important issue are in development.
More information about the operational state of the organization was discussed at the Annual General Meeting in Edmonton, September 14, 2019. Members can access the AGM materials including minutes from last year as well as financial statements here.
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.