The Structured Practical Training (SPT) program is designed to support an intern’s journey to becoming a proficient, patient-centred, and outcomes-focused pharmacist in Alberta through structured practical learning experiences. The overall objective of the SPT program is to provide an intern, under a preceptor, the opportunity, resources, and support to:
- Understand the scope of practice of Alberta pharmacists and the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians;
- Apply his/her professional knowledge and skills to a practical setting and develop and demonstrate the entry-to-practice competencies; and
- Identify his/her areas of strength and areas for improvement and implement learning plans to improve their practice accordingly.
Program activities and assessments are managed through the online SPT portal.
To meet the program’s objectives, an intern is required to complete each level of SPT under one preceptor and at one site. If an intern changes a preceptor and/or site before completing a level, he/she must restart the program level with the new preceptor/site; previously completed hours may not be carried over.
At the start of each level, interns are required to submit the preceptor’s registration number and the site’s license number. An intern may have a different preceptor and/or work at a different site for each level; however, it is not required for Levels 1 and 2.
Upon completing Level 2, an intern is required to find a new preceptor and a new site for Level 3 (i.e., an intern may not complete Levels 2 and 3 under the same preceptor and/or at the same site). This is to allow the intern to demonstrate proficiency to a new preceptor and at a new site prior to completing their final level of SPT.
An applicant for registration on the clinical register may attempt the ethics and jurisprudence exam only 3 times. A candidate who fails the exam 3 times may apply to the Registrar for permission for one final attempt.
The ACP’s SPT program is a learning experience of at least 1000 hours divided into three levels:
- Level 1 – minimum 450 hours
- Level 2 – minimum 450 hours
- Level 3 – minimum 100 hours
The hours listed are minimum requirements. It is expected that an intern would require additional hours to meet the program's objectives. Successful completion of each level requires an intern’s demonstration of the required competencies at an acceptable performance level and the preceptor would determine when an intern is eligible to advance to the next level of the program.
An intern or preceptor can choose to end their relationship at any time. However, if the preceptor/site is changed before completing a level, the intern must restart the level; previously completed hours will not be recognized. To meet the program’s objectives, each level of internship must be completed under one preceptor and at one pharmacy location. If there are concerns about the internship that cannot be resolved at site level, we strongly recommended that you contact the College.
- If more than 2 years has elapsed between the successful completion of the ethics and jurisprudence exam and the application for registration on the clinical register, candidates will be required to rewrite and pass the exam again prior to registering on the clinical register.
- If a practice permit expires and the candidate reinstates as a provisional pharmacist, the intern must successfully complete/rewrite the ethics and jurisprudence exam.
SPT hours must be completed in a normal work week pattern which is not less than 20 hours and not more than 40 hours per week. In case of illness or absenteeism, the intern will arrange with the preceptor to make up the missed internship time. Upon application, the Registrar may approve an alternative schedule of less than 20 hours per week.
Interns should work with their preceptors for the majority of their SPT hours since the preceptors are responsible for assessing the interns and monitoring their progress. However, interns do not need to work all the same shifts as their preceptor. If there are other pharmacists actively involved in supervising the intern, it is important that the other pharmacists understand the role and expectations of the intern and if necessary, provide feedback to the intern’s preceptor.
An intern who disagrees with an assessment must discuss his/her concerns with the preceptor.
If the disagreement cannot be resolved, it must be brought to the attention of the Registrar within 30 days of the assessment. The Registrar may appoint an arbitrator to assist in the resolution of the disagreement and if necessary may appoint an alternate preceptor to reassess the student.
Clinical rotations completed by students enrolled in a Council-approved Canadian pharmacy program may be deemed equivalent to Level 1 and/or Level 2 of the SPT program if the student registers in ACP’s SPT program and completes Level 3 within 1 year of graduation.
- Clinical rotations of at least 450 hours will be considered equivalent to Level 1.
- Clinical rotations of at least 900 hours will be considered equivalent to Level 1 and Level 2.
To facilitate a good learning environment, a preceptor may not have more than two interns under his/her preceptorship at the same time.
I’ve completed the Jurisprudence Learning Module but still cannot access the SPT portal – what should I do?
- If you have completed the Jurisprudence Learning Module, you should be able to access your Certificate of Completion by clicking the link in the bright orange banner along the top of the slide. If a Certificate of Completion is not available, it means you have yet to complete the Jurisprudence Learning Module.
- To identify which slides have not been completed, you should click on the “progress” bar (located on the left-hand side of the module). You will need to complete any slides that are not darkened in colour. You will have to repeat this step for each chapter.
- If you have just completed the Jurisprudence Learning Module and have received the Certificate of Completion, you may have to wait up to one hour before you will have access to the SPT portal. Please try logging into the SPT portal at a later time.
If I’m a student at a Canadian/U.S. school of pharmacy and wish to complete a rotation or structured practical training in Alberta, what do I have to do?
All restricted activities completed by the intern during the SPT program (Levels 1-3) must be under the direct supervision of the preceptor and/or another clinical pharmacist.
According to the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation:
23(1) A regulated member who consents to provide direct supervision under this Regulation must
(b) be authorized to perform the restricted activity being supervised,
(e) be present when the supervised individual is performing the restricted activity, and
(f) be able to observe and promptly intervene and stop or change the actions of the individual who is under supervision.
Restricted activities include:
- to dispense, compound, provide for selling or sell a Schedule 1 drug or Schedule 2 drug;
- to administer a vaccine or parenteral nutrition;
- to prescribe a Schedule 1 drug for the purpose of adapting an existing prescription;
- to prescribe a Schedule 1 drug if
- it is not reasonable possible for the patient to see a health professional to obtain the prescription, and
- there is an immediate need for drug therapy.
Interns who have successfully completed Level 3 of the SPT program but are not yet ready or able to register on the clinical register (e.g., still need to complete the PEBC exam) may work under indirect supervision, at the discretion of the supervising pharmacist. The level of supervision must be agreed upon by both the intern and the preceptor.
Direct supervision is still required for any intern administering drugs by injection. To administer drugs by injection, the intern must have met the requirements to perform this restricted activity and the supervising pharmacist must have authorization to administer drugs by injection.
According to the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation:
23(2) A regulated member who consents to provide indirect supervision under this Regulation must
- be readily available for consultation by the individual who is under supervision and, if advisable, for providing hands-on assistance to the individual.
23(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a regulated member
(a) shall not consent to supervise any individual performing a restricted activity if the regulated member is not satisfied that the individual will perform the restricted activity safely and effectively.
Candidates on the student, provisional, or clinical registers may enroll in the SPT program. Internationally trained pharmacists registered on the provisional register can begin the required structured practical training program prior to sitting the PEBC qualifying exam.
A pharmacy student or intern may administer drugs by injection only when he/she:
- Has completed an accredited administering drugs by injection training program
- Has valid and current CPR and first aid certification
- Is directly supervised by a pharmacist who has authorization to administer injections
Once enrolled, an intern will remain in the SPT program until:
- He/she has successfully completed all three levels of the program and is registered on the clinical register; OR
- He/she ceases to be registered on the student register, the provisional register, or the clinical register; OR
- His/her practice permit has expired. When an intern initially registers, ACP grants a 2-year practice permit. If the intern is not licensed within 2 years, an extension of up to 1 year on the practice permit may be granted at the discretion of the College.
Interns must continue to practise under direct or indirect supervision until all licensing requirements are met and they have been notified by the College of their status change to a clinical pharmacist.
Who is responsible for finding the intern’s practice site(s) and preceptor(s) for the SPT program? Does the Alberta College of Pharmacy provide a pre-approved preceptor list?
Interns are required to find their own practice site and preceptor that meet the criteria outlined in the program rules. The Alberta College of Pharmacy does not provide a pre-approved preceptor list. Once an intern has found a preceptor and practice site, the intern must submit the preceptor’s registration number and the site’s license number in the SPT portal to proceed with the level.
In order to successfully complete a level of SPT, the intern must have:
- Demonstrated competence,
- Met or exceeded the acceptable performance levels for all the key competencies (according to preceptor’s ratings) associated with his/her SPT level, and
- Completed the minimum number of hours required for the level.
- An intern would typically require additional hours to demonstrate the required competencies to his/her preceptors. The preceptor(s) would determine when an intern is eligible to advance in the program.
Once these requirements are met, the preceptor may declare level completion through his/her SPT portal. Once the preceptor has declared level completion, then the level is marked as complete.
Prior to starting SPT, an intern must:
- Complete jurisprudence requirements
- Prior to logging in to:
- Level 1: an intern must complete the Jurisprudence Learning Module
- Levels 2/3: an intern must successfully complete the ethics and jurisprudence exam
- Prior to logging in to:
- Become familiar with the SPT program
- To prepare for SPT, an intern must review the Intern’s Manual and become familiar with the program’s rules and resources. The SPT program and its activities are managed through the online SPT portal. To log into the SPT portal, an intern would use his/her ACP registration number and password.
- Obtain an eligible preceptor and practice site
- The Alberta College of Pharmacy does not provide a pre-approved preceptor list. Prior to starting a level of SPT, an intern must obtain an eligible preceptor and practice site and submit the preceptor’s registration number and the site’s license number in the SPT portal to verify eligibility. If eligible, the preceptor will be notified and he/she must log into the SPT portal and accept his/her role as the preceptor before the intern can start the level of SPT.
The preceptor is responsible for:
- Providing ongoing feedback
- Completing an assessment of the intern at midpoint and at the end of a level using the assessment tool provided by ACP
- Determining whether the intern has demonstrated competence and has met/exceeded the acceptable performance levels for the entry-to-practice competencies
- Signing off on a level of SPT by declaring level completion when the intern has:
- Met/exceeded the acceptable performance levels for all the key competencies and
- Completed the minimum number of hours required for the level
Before an intern can start a level of SPT:
- The intern must submit preceptor and site information in the SPT portal and confirm eligibility; then,
- The intern’s preceptor must log into the SPT portal and accept his/her role as the preceptor. Afterwards,
- the intern will be notified by email
- a Start Date for the level will appear in the SPT portal
- the intern may start on the program activities and start counting SPT hours
What if the intern has completed the minimum number of hours required for the level but has NOT demonstrated the required competencies?
The main objective of the SPT program is for the intern to demonstrate and master the entry-to-practice competencies; the length of time in the SPT program is secondary. It is expected that an intern would require additional training hours to meet the program’s objectives.
To ensure a continued high standard of pharmacy practice, the preceptor must only declare level completion when the intern has met or exceeded the acceptable performance levels for the key competencies. If the situation cannot be resolved at the site level, the intern/preceptor are encouraged to contact the College.
The program’s activities provide a guide to practical experiences used to help the intern accomplish internship goals; however, the suggested activities are not intended to be comprehensive.
The activities in the competency modules only provide a basic framework to help an intern to understand, develop, and demonstrate the competencies required at the point of licensure. The time spent on a particular competency module depends on an intern’s previous background, knowledge, and experience.
Preceptors can help the intern to determine the areas he/she needs to work and spend more time on in order to meet the acceptable performance levels. Any adjustments made to the program activities must be made at the discretion of the intern and preceptor. Any new/revised activities must support the program’s overall objectives.
At the same time, if the intern and preceptor deem the earlier activities within the program to be too simple, then the activities and/or time spent on a module may be adjusted accordingly; however, the intern would still need to complete the minimum number of SPT hours for each level.
An intern who disagrees with an assessment must discuss his/her concerns with the preceptor. If the disagreement cannot be resolved, it must be brought to the attention of the Registrar within 30 days of the assessment. The Registrar may appoint an arbitrator to assist in resolution of the disagreement and if necessary may appoint an alternate preceptor to reassess the student.
SPT hours must be completed at a licensed community pharmacy or institution pharmacy in Alberta. Upon application, the Registrar may approve completion of hours at alternative sites.
SPT hours may only be completed at sites that:
- operate a minimum of 20 hours per week;
- have no outstanding deficiencies resulting from an on-site assessment that was more than 30 days ago;
- have no restrictions on the pharmacy license that will impact ability to provide a good learning environment for an intern;
- have no outstanding complaints that have been referred to a hearing tribunal; and
- the intern is NOT in a close personal relationship with the licensee and/or proprietor of the pharmacy (e.g., related to or reside in the same residence; business partners; any relationship that may (or may be perceived to) affect the objectivity of the preceptor.)
Prior to starting a level of SPT, interns and preceptors are required to declare that their practice site meets the eligibility requirements.
What if, despite ongoing planning and discussion, the intern is unable to meet the required competencies?
To ensure a continued high standard of pharmacy practice, it is important that preceptors only sign off on the completion of a SPT level when the intern has demonstrated all the required competencies. If the intern is unable to demonstrate these required competencies to a satisfactory level, then the intern should not be moving forward to becoming a licensed pharmacist. If additional support is needed, please contact the Alberta College of Pharmacy.
Since the majority of internships are completed in community pharmacies, the program activities are tailored for community practice. If the practice site is not a community pharmacy, the intern and preceptor should work together to adjust the suggested program activities and/or establish new activities that are more conducive to the site. Any new/revised activities must support the program’s overall objectives and allow the intern to develop and demonstrate the entry-to-practice competencies.
This is not required as these records are stored electronically. However, once an intern has moved onto the clinical register, he/she will no longer have access to these records; therefore, interns may wish to print copies for their own records or for future reference. It may be rewarding to look back at personal and professional growth.
Additionally, throughout a level of SPT, interns and preceptors will be working off of the same assessment form. This design will help facilitate the assessment process; however, this also means you will override previously selected ratings. If you wish to retain a specific version of the assessment, you would need to either print or download a copy of the assessment.
What if the site is extremely busy and the intern does not have the opportunities to complete the program activities and/or meet with the preceptor?
Interns and preceptors must understand and accept their roles and responsibilities prior to proceeding with the SPT program. Once accepted, interns and preceptors must commit to completing the required activities and assessments as this training is a critical step for the intern to becoming a licensed pharmacist.
- The intern is responsible for completing all the program activities and seeking learning opportunities and feedback from the preceptor.
- The preceptor is responsible for supporting the intern, assessing the intern’s performance, and providing feedback. To help facilitate this, a preceptor may not have more than two interns under his/her preceptorship at the same time.
- The relationship between the intern and the preceptor should be viewed as a partnership. If there are any issues, the intern should reach out to the preceptor and/or manager so that they are aware of the concerns. If the concerns cannot be resolved at site level, we strongly recommended that the intern/preceptor contact the College.
What happens if the intern has completed Level 3 but is not ready/able to register on the clinical register yet?
Interns who have successfully completed Level 3 but are not yet ready or able to register on the clinical register will remain on the provisional register in a post-Level 3 status. An intern in a post-Level 3 status is required to submit a work experience notification form to ACP if working in a pharmacy.
Interns will have up until their registration expiry date to complete the remaining licensing requirements; an extension of up to 1 year on the practice permit may be granted at the discretion of the College.
If a practice permit expires and the candidate reinstates as a provisional pharmacist, the intern must start at Level 1 of the SPT program.
Who is eligible to be a preceptor? Does the Alberta College of Pharmacy provide a pre-approved preceptor list?
Each level of internship must be supervised by an approved preceptor. A pharmacist registered on the clinical register may be approved to act as a preceptor if he/she:
- is a clinical pharmacist who has been registered on the Alberta College of Pharmacy’s clinical register for the past 2 years or more;
- will take action to understand the principles of the SPT program and accepts the role and responsibilities of a preceptor;
- is in good standing including the following:
- has no conditions or restrictions on his/her practice permit that will impact ability to provide a good learning experience for an intern;
- has no outstanding complaints that have been referred to a hearing tribunal;
- has not been the subject of a finding of OR is not the subject of a current proceeding related to: professional misconduct, incompetence, or incapacity in Alberta or any other jurisdiction in relation to pharmacy or any other health profession;
- has not been found guilty of OR is not the subject of a current proceeding related to: an offence under any Act regulating the practice of pharmacists or the sale of drugs; or any criminal offence; and
- is not in a close personal relationship with the intern (e.g., related to or reside in the same residence; business partners; any relationship that may (or may be perceived to) affect the objectivity of the preceptor.)
Prior to starting a level of SPT, interns and preceptors are required to declare that the preceptor meets the eligibility requirements. The Alberta College of Pharmacy does not provide a pre-approved preceptor list.
Upon application, the Registrar may approve a preceptor outside of these requirements.
An intern may be required to secure an experienced preceptor, as outlined in the SPT rules . The requirements for an experienced preceptor are outlined in the experienced preceptor declaration form.
The Jurisprudence Learning Module is an online module that reviews the different federal and provincial legislations and Standards of Practice that govern Alberta pharmacy practice. The module can support an intern with preparing for practice and the ethics and jurisprudence exam.
An intern is required to complete this module prior to starting the SPT program.
To prepare a preceptor for his/her role, he/she should:
- Review the SPT Preceptor’s Manual and program rules; and
- Become familiar with the intern assessment form and understand the expected competencies and performance levels for an intern at each SPT level.
There are a number of tools and resources available in the SPT portal. Additionally, preceptors are encouraged to contact the Alberta College of Pharmacy should they have any questions or require any assistance with their interns.
Preceptors are also encouraged to complete preceptor training. Potential training may be available:
- through the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
- online, such as UBC E-tips
- through Alberta Health Services
All interns are eligible to challenge the ACP ethics and jurisprudence exam at any time. Interns are required to successfully complete the ethics and jurisprudence exam prior to starting Levels 2 of the SPT program. Interns who enter the SPT program at Level 3, must successfully complete the exam prior to starting the program.