More Than Completing CEUs: My PTSBC 2016 Conference Experience

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Successful and well-balanced conferences provide time for networking, in addition to the educational sessions. While an efficient way of completing a large number of continuing education units (CEUs) in a short period of time, conferences provide a great opportunity for networking and for making new contacts. Such was my experience at the Pharmacy Technician Society of British Columbia’s (PTSBC) 2016 Conference.

I had the honor and privilege of representing PTSA at the PTSBC 2016 Conference in Vancouver, BC on October 28 and 29. PTSBC’s conference took place from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon with plenty of networking opportunities. As a current PTSA board member and one of the co-chairs of the 2017 conference planning committee, I tried, and hopefully succeeded, to make the most of these opportunities.

During the Friday evening vendor exhibition, I networked with both familiar and new faces. I chatted with the vendors and conference sponsors, of course. As some were recent Alberta Pharmacy Technician Conference (APTC) sponsors, it was great to see them again so soon after our conference in September to touch base and to re-iterate our thanks for their support, and hopefully continued support. I also met with vendors who haven’t been a part of the APTCs before; I was able to initiate the conversation regarding their potential sponsorship at our 2017 conference.

A couple vendors at the PTSBC conference were the Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services (LMPS) and Interior Health, who were there in a recruitment capacity. The representative I spoke with mentioned that being able to put a face to a name helped a person’s application stand out from many other applications they receive. So, if you are in the market for a new job or position, speaking with a recruitment representative face-to-face at a conference would be a beneficial contact to make.

Another great reason to attend a conference is to get re-acquainted with familiar faces. After visiting the vendor tables Friday evening, I bumped into two colleagues from Alberta Health Services (AHS), whom I haven’t chatted with in a long while. They are based in Calgary; whereas, I’m based in Edmonton. I didn’t know they would be attending the conference, so it was a pleasant surprise as well. It was nice to get re-acquainted with them on a more social and personal level. I also sat with them on Saturday which allowed for more catching up in between the educational sessions. Being part of such a large organization as AHS can make it difficult to really get to know your pharmacy colleagues, but conferences can provide the time and opportunity to do so. Building personal ties with colleagues can strengthen the professional ones.

Seated with us during the Saturday sessions were pharmacy technicians who worked in hospitals in the lower mainland outside of Vancouver as well as on Vancouver Island. In conversation with them, I was able to share with them information that I’ve researched on the availability and use of pharmacy automation and technology. While aware of some of the technologies I mentioned, they were surprised to learn about some of the innovations that they didn’t know were available in Canada. Similarly, I learned how hospital pharmacy processes differ within BC as well as how their processes differed from ours in Alberta. It’s always enlightening to see the resourcefulness of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy teams in how they resolve issues that seem to be a constant in many hospital pharmacy settings.

Following the end of the conference, I met with the PTSBC board members. I was able to maintain the open communication that has always existed between PTSA and PTSBC, and updated them on some of PTSA’s current initiatives as well as get updated on theirs. Always willing to help each other out, they let me know specific people we can reach out to for info and assistance on particular initiatives. Of note, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia is currently pursuing a name change to reflect the addition of pharmacy technicians to its registry. PTSA is pursuing the same goal with the Alberta College of Pharmacists. PTSBC offered a hand of support and to share information as we all work towards more visible inclusion of pharmacy technicians. With a broader perspective, we were able to discuss reaching out to other pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technician societies across Canada, and how we as more established pharmacy technician societies can assist them.

With all this networking, touching base, chatting, re-acquainting, conversing and communicating, I was still able to get the most out of the educational sessions. Outside of the educational sessions and beyond the accredited CEUs, I re-solidified my current network, expanded the reach of my network, and learned about other hospitals’ pharmacy processes. I encourage you to attend a conference, whether the Alberta Pharmacy Technician Conference or any other pharmacy technician conference offered across Canada, and to attend with more than CEUs as your goal. These conferences are offered in person and with a large number of attendees. Take advantage of that opportunity: make new contacts and expand your network.

Ryan Mapa – Board Director

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