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Council update

January 8, 2020

SPT changes, five-year strategic planning, and a new Council member are among the highlights from the December 19 meeting.

Terra Young appointed as ex-officio member of Council

Council appointed Terra Young as an ex-officio member for a three-year term, representing Alberta’s accredited Pharmacy Technician Programs. Terra is a pharmacy technician and is the coordinator of the Pharmacy Technician program at CDI College (Edmonton). In her ex-officio capacity, Terra will participate in all Council deliberations but will not have voting privileges. Participation from Alberta’s accredited pharmacy technician programs is consistent with that of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences on Council. This is opportunity will benefit both the college and Alberta’s pharmacy technician programs. Terra was nominated by her peers from all five of Alberta’s accredited pharmacy technician programs.  

Development of five-year plan (2021-2025)

Council continued working on its five-year plan, focusing on the development of objectives to support the following five strategic themes that were identified in September 2019:

  • There is a modern and relevant framework to regulate pharmacy practice.
  • All applicants are qualified and ready to practice pharmacy in Alberta’s health system.
  • Licensees are qualified and held responsible for practice in their pharmacy.
  • Registrants identified as not being able to meet practice requirements demonstrate practice improvement.
  • Data intelligence is used by registrants and the college to make more informed decisions.

Council had preliminary discussions about risks that may impede pursuit of these themes, and considerations that might mitigate those risks. Council will continue development of the plan through the first quarter of 2020, looking forward to final approval at its April meeting.

Enhanced rules for Structured Practical Training

ACP will invest in building more rigour within its Structured Practical Training program (SPT) over the next five years, including consideration of criteria that must be met to enter the program. ACP’s goal is to provide a high quality, standardized experience that includes evaluation throughout and at conclusion of the experience. Ultimately, successful candidates must be proficient in practising in the context of Alberta’s health system. A mid-term goal will be development of an Alberta-based “bridging program” for international pharmacy graduates (IPGs) to ensure their readiness to participate in SPT.

In the short term, Council has approved enhanced rules to the SPT program for provisional pharmacists, to support a more consistent learning experience for candidates:

Graduates of pharmacy programs that have not been approved by Council will be admitted to the Structured Practical Training program after they:

  1. Successfully complete a bridging program recognized by Council; or
  2. Secure a SPT preceptor who can demonstrate experience* precepting students within the final year of a Canadian accredited pharmacy program.

Bridging programs recognized by Council:

  1. The International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) program at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto (U of T)
  2. University of British Columbia Canadian Pharmacy Practice Program (CP3)

*The minimum experience required for a SPT preceptor under this rule is that the preceptor must have precepted at least two students in their final year of a Canadian accredited pharmacy program within the three years before the application is received by ACP.

Watch for more information in future editions of the Link, as we look towards implementing these new rules within the first quarter of 2020.

Regulatory amendment

Provincial legislation governing pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and the operation of licensed pharmacies came into effect in 2007. Over the past 12 years, this framework provided many opportunities, much has been learned, and much has changed. Council began reflection and discussion about these experiences, with a view to modernizing regulations to meet the needs of the future. This will be a longer-term discussion; however, in the short term, the need to address the readiness of individuals to serve as pharmacy licensees and proprietors’ agents, and the need to clarify responsibilities of pharmacy licensees as opposed to owners are top of mind. These reflections are consistent with Council’s observation that the effectiveness of pharmacy licensees is a critical success factor to the quality of care and experiences patients have when accessing pharmacy services.

Pharmacy’s role in supporting animal health

Legislation about the role of pharmacy teams in supporting animal health is unclear. Pharmaceutical care related to animals is complex, not simply due to differences in species, but more generally when considering care required for companion animals (pets), herds, and food-producing animals.

Council began deliberation about the scope of a pharmacy team’s role in animal health, as a precursor to standards development, and possibly legislative amendment to clarify and support that role. It will also assist the college to clarify whether there are additional educational and resource requirements to support these roles.

Prescribing controlled substances

National interest in pharmacists prescribing controlled substances has slowly grown over the past decade. ACP has not prioritized this, as the first step in achieving this goal requires amendment to federal legislation. To have pharmacists recognized as “practitioners” under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, requires national consensus within the profession. It has taken over a decade for other provinces to adopt some element of “pharmacist-prescribing.” The bottom line is that amendment to federal legislation requires national context and support.

We are finally positioned for a national discussion about this, and the issue has been tabled with NAPRA. Other provinces are now interested in pursuing recognition of pharmacists as “practitioners.”

Council has leant support for ACP to work with other jurisdictions to achieve “practitioner” status under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for pharmacists. Thereafter, it will be our provincial prerogative to determine the scope and standards within which such a privilege may be exercised.


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