Role Clarification of Non-Regulated Pharmacy Employees
As the pharmacy practice environment continues to grow in complexity there remains a place for pharmacy assistants in our profession. In Alberta, Pharmacy Employee means an individual employed in a pharmacy who is not a regulated member of the Alberta College of Pharmacy and includes a volunteer who works in a pharmacy.[i] Pharmacy Assistant is the most commonly used title for non-regulated pharmacy employees.
Almost a year ago the PTSA advocacy committee drafted a chart to provide distinction between the scope of practice of pharmacy technicians and the role of non-regulated pharmacy employees. Feedback received from pharmacy technicians was resounding in support of the need for role clarification; however, variation in pharmacy team composition impacted the chart’s application. Work has continued to revise and improve the original draft chart and the result is a document that outlines appropriate tasks for trained and supervised non-regulated pharmacy employees based on interpretation of the practice framework in an ideal practice setting that includes pharmacy technicians. The document can be found here:
Role Clarification of Non-Regulated Pharmacy Employees
When it comes to patient care, most activities require professional judgement and for the pharmacy professional to enter into a relationship with the patient. These tasks are more appropriately performed by pharmacy technicians and pharmacists.
Dispensing and compounding are restricted activities that are considered potentially harmful if performed by unqualified persons. [i] Appropriately trained pharmacy assistants may help provide restricted activities when directly supervised by a pharmacy technician or pharmacist. Non-regulated employees may measure
ingredients and physically mix non-sterile compounds that do not require the specialized skills and training of a pharmacy technician or pharmacist.
Pharmacy assistants may not sterile compound and/or complete the final check of compounded and repackaged drugs. There are other activities that fall within the pharmacy technician’s scope of practice that pharmacy assistants are not authorized by legislation to complete. These include receiving and transferring prescription orders and acting as a witness when a pharmacist destroys narcotic or controlled drugs.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must ensure that all procedures are met when supervising non-regulated pharmacy employees. A pharmacy assistant may not release a prescription to a patient in the absence of a pharmacy professional directly supervising the activities they are performing.
Like other patient care activities, teaching requires the pharmacy professional to enter into a relationship with the patient. Instruction about health care products and devices requires the specialized knowledge and training of pharmacy professionals.
Inventory management activities may be completed by non-regulated employees when the task does not require specialized pharmacy knowledge or judgement to be applied.
How will this document support your practice? Share your comments below.
Questions about the pharmacy technician’s scope of practice or role of non-regulated pharmacy employees may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians. Alberta College of Pharmacy. July 2011.
[ii] Government Organization Act, RSA 2000, c G-10. Current to 2019-12-05 according to the Alberta Queen’s printer
6 replies on “Role Clarification of Non-Regulated Pharmacy Employees”
Hi there, this link appears broken, can you redirect me?
Hi! If you click the hyperlink in the post above you’ll be directed to the downloadable PDF. Here’s the URL: https://ptsa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Role-Clarification-of-Non-Regulated-Pharmacy-Employees.pdf
You can also find this information on the About Us > Pharmacy Assistant Roles page.
Furthermore to the above anonymous post. I am wondering if there is further clarification on the cans and cannots of pharmacy assistants in regards to compounding. Specifically compounding narcotic products. Is there any clarification you can provide here. We have assistants compounding narcotics and it frightens me as they do not have the training to be careful and mindful of the drugs they are using.
Hi Anonymous. Pharmacy assistants may compound under the direct supervision of a regulated pharmacy professional. This means the pharmacy professional must be observing and be able to stop the task as needed. There is nothing that specifically says an assistant may not compound narcotics but since these are high alert medications the supervising professional would definitely want to ensure that the assistant has sufficient training to perform tasks safely. Federal regulations may also limit what they can do as part of the compounding process. For example, two pharmacy technicians may waste unused narcotics as part of the compounding process but pharmacy assistants are not authorized to do this. You should also review the tasks you want pharmacy assistants to complete to confirm that direct supervision is provided at the appropriate places in the process. For example, is a pharmacy technician/pharmacist confirming all weights/volumes measured and there is no proxy checking occurring?
There is a distinct poster created outlining scope of practice for a pharmacy technician vs. pharmacist. Why is there no such poster for technicians vs assistants? I find the lines are blurred and assistants don’t understand their role within a pharmacy. Not their fault, there is no training outlining what they can and cannot do. It’s a monkey see monkey do scenerio. Assistants see what a technician is doing and identify themselves as equally as competent; I have on more than one occasion caught an assistant performing at a technician level. It is dangerous.
Hi Bonnie. PTSA created this document to help clarify appropriate roles for pharmacy assistants: https://ptsa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Role-Clarification-of-Non-Regulated-Pharmacy-Employees.pdf. We agree that there are many situations where pharmacy assistants are inadequately supervised or utilized inappropriately. If you have concerns about specific situations, you can bring them to the attention of your pharmacy manager/licensee. If the situation remains unresolved, it can be reported to the Alberta College of Pharmacy.