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Students can be subject to discipline

December 9, 2020

Lessons Learned: The requirement for registrants’ conduct applies to all registrants and extends beyond the pharmacy.

A recent Hearing Tribunal issued its written decision on the merit and orders regarding the conduct of a pharmacy student who was convicted of serious criminal matters and failed to act with honesty and integrity during the criminal trial.   

Although the criminal trial occurred while the pharmacy student was registered with ACP, the precipitating conduct occurred before he was a pharmacy student and registered. Even though the precipitating conduct did not involve any pharmacy or health-related services or activities, the Hearing Tribunal established that his criminal conduct was also unprofessional conduct and noted that his dishonest statements to the Court occurred while the student was an ACP registrant. In its decision, the Hearing Tribunal affirmed the necessity for all ACP registrants to act with honesty and integrity including outside of the pharmacy.

In this matter, the Tribunal imposed the most significant of penalties: cancellation and a lifetime order prohibiting the pharmacy student from becoming an owner or proprietor of a pharmacy registered with ACP. 

Rationale for the Tribunal’s decision is reflected in many of its statements, including the following:

The profession of pharmacy enjoys the privilege of being a self-regulated profession. It is imperative that the profession regulates and governs the practice of pharmacy at a high level to continue to satisfy this privilege and to maintain the integrity of the profession. Effective pharmacy practice is based on the values of trust, integrity, sound judgement, good decision making, and critical thinking. There is simply no room or exception for practitioners or soon to be practitioners to deviate from these values. [The pharmacy student] deviated substantially from these values, to the point where he received a criminal conviction for serious crimes, then lacked insight and accountability for his actions, and as such deserves no place in the profession of pharmacy. 

… … …

Individuals who fail to adhere to the rule of law, especially in serious matters, cannot be allowed to practise in the profession of pharmacy.

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The Hearing Tribunal considered that [the pharmacy student’s] convictions were extremely serious for a regulated member of the College. [The pharmacy student’s] convictions included defrauding the RCMP of financial benefits, defrauding an insurance company, harassing women, damaging property, and theft.

The pharmacy student also provided an undertaking to the Tribunal to never seek to reapply for registration as a regulated member of ACP in the future. 

Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, interns and students – incorporate these lessons into your approach to being regulated as a pharmacy professional:

  1. Review your professional responsibilities and ethical duties. Principles 1, 10, and 11 of the Code of Ethics will provide you with valuable guidance in this respect.
  2. Understand that review and regulation of your conduct does not necessarily end when you leave the pharmacy and may occur before you are practising independently on the clinical pharmacist or pharmacy technician registers. For many aspects of their conduct, pharmacy professionals are held to a higher standard than members of the public.
  3. Understand that pharmacy professionals occupy a position of trust—a reason why your conduct must be held to a higher standard.
  4. Criminal convictions, especially those that are particularly impactful or publicized in the media, harm the integrity of the profession, and may impact a pharmacy professional’s registration with ACP.
  5. Do not allow your personal circumstances to negatively affect your professional obligations.

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