Pharmacy Technician Practice in Alberta: Survey Results Part 2

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It’s been a year since PTSA put out a survey to learn more information about pharmacy technicians, their roles in Alberta, and how they are viewed by pharmacy professionals.

At the end of January, we published the first part of results. For those of you that are interested and didn’t get a chance to read it, here is the link: Pharmacy Technician Practice in Alberta: Survey Results – PTSA

Practice Barriers

We asked survey respondents if they had experienced any barriers to hiring regulated pharmacy technicians and pharmacy technicians working to full scope. While many replied that they had not experienced any challenges, many others also faced barriers consistently. The top themes for why pharmacy technicians aren’t working to full scope include: staffing/funding, understanding of scope, confidence and motivation, employer policies and practice models/workflows. Only 56% of respondents claimed that their workplace has a thorough understanding of the pharmacy technician’s scope of practice.

Respondents have also experienced barriers to hiring pharmacy technicians – and the themes were similar. An understanding of scope or confidence in the role as well as staffing/funding were often cited as the reasons for hiring challenges. Applicant availability is another barrier with several resondents specifically noting that there are small numbers of pharmacy technicians in certain locations.

Wages

The majority of pharmacy technician wages reported range from $25 – $39 per hour; however, 3% of respondents reported pharmacy technician wages were less than $20 per hour at their workplaces. The majority of respondents (60%) felt that between $30 – $39 is a reasonable wage for a pharmacy technician.

Pharmacist managers or pharmacy licensees generally thought that a wage range of $20 – $34 was reasonable, compared with pharmacy technician managers who reported a reasonable wage range is between $30 – $44 per hour.

Pharmacy assistants are generally making less than $24 per hour, with about 15% of respondents reporting wages of $25 per hour and greater.

Support for Expanded Roles

At the time of the survey, Alberta pharmacy technicians were not yet able to collect a throat swab for the purpose of COVID-19 testing. With changes to the province’s COVID-19 testing program, pharmacy technicians are now able to perform this role. Performing other point-of-care tests, was noted as an area for pharmacy technicians to take a greater role. You can learn more about point-of-care testing performed by pharmacy technicians here: Point of Care Testing Performed by Pharmacy Technicians – PTSA.

There is also support for pharmacy technicians’ scope to be expanded further. Of those that responded to the survey, 70% believe that pharmacy technicians should be granted authorization to procure, receive and destroy narcotics. It was also stated that pharmacy technicians should be allowed to receive verbal prescriptions for controlled substances because not being able to do so impedes workflows. Pharmacy technicians witnessing the ingestion of opioid agonist therapy medications was supported by about 60% of respondents.

More than 70% also support pharmacy technicians administering drugs and vaccines by injection. Despite general support, some respondents claimed they were not comfortable with the pharmacy technicians role expanding.  There was also a concern noted that if pharmacy technicians’ scope of practice were to encompass more responsibility, then their wages should reflect that.

What’s Next?

Enabling the integration of pharmacy technicians into practice remains a priority for PTSA. Success for this goal means that pharmacy technicians will be working within current practice models to the greatest extent possible and new practice opportunities will be created that help meet the needs of Albertans.

The results of the survey provided a glimpse into the current state of pharmacy technician practice in the province and will continue to be used to guide the work PTSA is doing.

 

Do the survey results reflect the current state of your practice? Share your comments below.

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