On July 26, 2016 the Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta (PTSA) and the Alberta Pharmacists Association (RxA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). You might be saying to yourself, “That’s a lot of acronyms, but what does it really mean?” I’ll try to shed some light on what lead to this agreement and the potential that can come from this MOU below.
As you may already know, every summer PTSA puts out a call for nominations to our board. In September, at our Annual General Meeting we elect those nominees to the board. Given that we are a volunteer organization, we often see turnover as past board members have changes to their availability and ability to volunteer.
As a result, every one to two years a new executive board is elected and one of the first things they do is reach out to various stakeholders to ensure that our relationships continue and to assess if there are any initiatives we could potentially work towards together.
Our Vice President Don Ridley arranged a meeting with Margaret Wing, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Jeff Whissell, Director of Pharmacy Practice, from RxA. At this meeting we discussed our now regular tradition of PTSA reaching out to RxA and how it feels like we are often taking one step forward, two steps back, as before any concrete initiatives between RxA and PTSA can be strategized, our board turns over and we start again. A key difference between the governance of PTSA and RxA is that RxA doesn’t rely entirely on a volunteer board, but has a small staff including a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Their board may changeover, however their staff turnover rate is much lower and it allows their CEO to be the “face” of RxA.
To try and help mitigate the issue of PTSA reaching out year after year without much progress we started preliminary discussions around a MOU, what that could look like, and whether a formalized relationship would be beneficial to both organizations. We discussed common themes and struggles that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in Alberta face and threw around some ideas on how we could tackle these issues together.
In March, PTSA’s executive board had the chance to sit down with Margaret and Jeff to start formally discussing the MOU’s potential. During our April board meeting we discussed the MOU and what we wanted it to look like and what we were hoping to achieve from it. We also solicited feedback from our Advocacy Committee. As a board we agreed that we wanted the following:
- To work with RxA to showcase successful pharmacy technician/pharmacist teams and their workflow
- Joint education initiatives that would support progressive pharmacy practice with pharmacy technicians and pharmacists both working to full scope
- Opportunity for the PTSA board members to learn from RxA how to improve our advocacy efforts
I met with the RxA board to discuss the issue further and to see if this was something that they also wanted to move forward with. Attending the RxA board meeting was a great opportunity to hear not only about some of the issues that pharmacists face in practice, but also to hear about some of the struggles and successes that RxA has faced as an advocacy association. I learned that we often struggle with common problems, such as how to ensure ongoing engagement of members and how best to influence the government or the Alberta College of Pharmacists. I discussed some of the push back we hear pharmacy technicians facing when trying to work to their full scope, and the RxA board spoke about how these struggles mirror the push back some pharmacists faced from physicians when pharmacist scope expanded. I came away from the meeting feeling confident that this agreement can not only help pharmacy technicians in Alberta, but it will also help support PTSA as we grow and mature as an organization.
As a board, we are very excited to have a formalized agreement with RxA to support the advancement of pharmacy practice. We look forward to building our relationship with RxA and we believe that this strong relationship will benefit both pharmacy professionals and patients in Alberta.
You can read the MOU here.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on this agreement. Leave your comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Miskimins, President