Supporting New Graduates’ Transition into the Profession


Recently, the Alberta College of Pharmacy hosted events to celebrate pharmacy technician students entering the profession. While the events were intended to introduce students to the role of the college and their journey to become registered, PTSA was pleased to have representatives attend the events as guests. Events were held at each of the five colleges that had students graduating this year. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to attend several of the events on behalf of PTSA.

During the formal portion of the program, students stood and recited the Code of Ethics. The responsibility that comes with being an essential health professional is significant. This action represented the pharmacy technician students’ acceptance of the responsibility entrusted to them by the public and other health professionals – to practice to a high standard of conduct.

As pharmacy technicians, we use our knowledge and skills to serve patients, contribute to society, and act as stewards of our profession. The principles within the Code of Ethics guide us towards achieving these expectations. Students were reminded to refer to the Code of Ethics throughout their careers to answer the tough questions that may arise in their practices. It was a good reminder for me too! When was the last time you reviewed the Code of Ethics?

I didn’t have the same experience as the students I had an opportunity to meet – regulation of pharmacy technicians was not in place when I graduated so I didn’t experience the transition from a student to a regulated health professional. But I still recall the excitement, apprehension, and pride I felt entering the profession. Through the conversations I had, it was clear many of the students at these events were feeling the same. We all have a responsibility to support the transition of new graduates into the profession. Here are a few ideas about how we can do that:

Be available.

When new graduates first start practicing, they may not know what to do in certain situations. Having someone available they can trust, and ask questions of, will help them learn how things work in the pharmacy.

Impart knowledge freely.

Your years of experience has contributed to your professional expertise and helped improve your confidence. It is important for new graduates to learn from colleagues so they can build on the foundational knowledge they gained through school. Knowing your experiences can help new graduates improve their own practices.

Encourage reflection.

There is learning potential from good and bad situations. Everyone makes mistakes; how we learn from them helps us grow as professionals. Reinforce a just culture and ask relevant questions to help new graduates think about what worked well and what didn’t.

Recommend resources.

Whether it’s the Code of Ethics, pharmacy policies, evidence in the literature, or other health professionals, we look to resources to inform our practice. Learning what types of resources work best in certain situations can take time. Pointing new graduates in the right direction can help them become familiar sooner.

How do you support the new graduates you practice with? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author: Teresa Hennessey is a pharmacy technician with 25 years of front-line and leadership experience in both community and hospital pharmacies. She is the Administrator for PTSA. 

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