As a pharmacy technician in Alberta, I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to experience practice changes that have allowed pharmacy professionals to better meet the needs of our patients. Recently, I was compelled to write a message to the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) Council. Do you agree with my message? Share your comments below.
This is what I had to say….
Subject: Injections performed by Pharmacy Technicians – Now is the time to approve this direction
For those of you that I haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet, I am an Albertan and a registered pharmacy technician. In 2001, when the Health Professions Act was introduced in our province I knew I would one day be a regulated health professional. Over the course of the next decade I dedicated my spare time to developing myself and my profession. Healthcare demands were increasing and the pharmacy profession was positioned to meet those needs. I knew my pharmacist colleagues couldn’t meet those demands alone and I needed to have my qualifications recognized in order to contribute to the greatest degree possible. I achieved my goal on July 4, 2011, after arriving at the ACP office application in hand, to become the first registered pharmacy technician in Alberta.
As so many of these changes do, the opportunity to have pharmacy technicians included under the Health Professions Act came about suddenly. As one of the first pharmacy technician observers appointed to Council at the time, I was privileged to work with Registrar Eberhart and former Deputy Registrar Cooney, to draft the regulation and standards of practice amendments to include pharmacy technicians. The regulation of pharmacy technicians was only one small change that the 2011 amendments brought for pharmacy practice in Alberta. Could our small group have foreseen all practice opportunities? Definitely not. Were concessions made due to the short timelines? Perhaps. But I was confident there would be other opportunities for regulation amendments to guide how pharmacy technicians practice in our province.
I write to you this evening because I feel that time has come. The act of administering a drug or vaccine by injection is a technical task. Pharmacy technicians are trained to apply infection prevention and aseptic technique procedures in their practice which are skills required to perform injections. Through Council’s visionary discussions over the years, some of which I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in, pharmacy technicians administering injections has been discussed many times. I’ve seen recent communications from ACP that paint a picture for me of the discussions currently happening at the Council table.
Pharmacies are busier than ever administering influenza immunizations and just like 20 years ago, pharmacists can’t do it all alone. The reminder that provisional pharmacists and pharmacy students may perform injections reinforces for me that Council is very aware of these pressures, which are only going to increase as the pandemic response evolves. This is truly an “all hands on deck” situation. Unregulated pharmacist students may perform injections, yet pharmacy technicians – regulated health professionals – whom have the underlying competencies to do so may not?!
The addition of four words – to administer a vaccine – to section 21(1) of the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation could change how pharmacy responds to the health needs of Albertans once again. I realize that is a rather simplistic way of describing a change that is impacted by a number of factors; however, we can’t move forward without Council first supporting this change.
My new goal is to become authorized to administer injections so that I can continue to help meet the needs of Albertans. Please help me to achieve that goal. Council’s support for amending legislation and standards of practice to authorize pharmacy technicians to administer injections is the necessary next step.
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.