President’s Report – Influencing Pharmacy Issues

What does it mean to influence pharmacy issues? For PTSA it means we have 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. Recent work in this area has been focused on proposing changes to legislation and policies that will enable pharmacy technicians to work to full scope of practice.

One area PTSA has attempted to influence changes is related to the handling of narcotic and controlled drugs. Seeing changes to federal legislation to recognize the role of pharmacy technicians in this area is an objective we share with our pharmacy technician partners from across the Country. In 2017, Health Canada embarked on the creation of guidance documents to support the handling of drugs returned to pharmacies as well as the destruction of unusable controlled drugs. We took the opportunity to let Health Canada know that “pharmacy technician” needs to be specifically defined within the regulations and our role reflected in not only how we support pharmacists, but as the owners of the activities of disposing of, destroying or returning expired, unusable or recalled drugs in pharmacies. You can read the feedback letter here.

In an effort to build on our advocacy efforts, myself and advocacy representative Donald Ridley recently met with Mr. Graham Statt, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, Pharmaceutical & Supplementary Benefits, to introduce Mr. Statt to our organization and discuss the role of pharmacy technicians. We shared the key message that pharmacy technicians are essential health professionals who have a defined set of skills that positively impact patients and pharmacy practice. We also 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.

One of the most important points that I’ve learned from our work to influence pharmacy issues this past year is that change will only happen if pharmacy technicians are united in our message and proactive in our efforts to have our voice heard. While this is something that your PTSA board and committee members strive to do – it is also something that each and every pharmacy technician can contribute to. Do you feel that you’re not working to your full scope? Then you should think about the ways you can make changes in your practice. Then have a conversation with your pharmacy manager and team to propose and discuss new activities you can take on. You can use the Scope of Practice for Alberta Pharmacy Technicians document as a conversation support tool. This resource is available through the Practice Resources section of the Members Only section of the website.

It’s also important that you share your feedback and let PTSA know the issues that are most important to you. We use your feedback to guide how our advocacy efforts are focused. Share your thoughts in the comments below or attend the next online Town Hall webinar meeting Wednesday, March 7 at 7pm. Attendance at the webinar is limited to PTSA members. Click here for more information.

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