Council held its first scheduled meeting of the 2020-21 Council term on September 30-October 1, 2020. Council will meet virtually, more frequently, but for shorter meetings throughout the duration of this term; with the final meeting planned in person in June 2021 in conjunction with the Celebration of Leadership in Edmonton.
The following is a summary of Council’s most recent deliberations:
Developing a relevant and modern practice framework for pharmacy practice
One of Council’s five goals within its new strategic plan (2021-2025) is to modernize the current practice framework, so that it is relevant and effective in a dynamic environment, where new technologies, new social preferences, and economics are driving new pharmacy practice models.
Council is fully committed to its mandate of “serving and protecting the public’s interest” through safe, effective, and responsible pharmacy practices, changes to legislation, standards, and policies. Council began pursuing qualities of a “relevant and modern” practice framework at this meeting and will continue these deliberations through much of this Council year. Council’s goal is to pursue changes to the current practice framework that confirm that the right things are being regulated in the right way. This will help appropriately balance safe, responsible, and effective practices with the necessary legislative framework to ensure that the public’s interest is served and protected. COVID-19 has reaffirmed that new ways of providing services and care must be pursued and supported.
International pharmacy technician bridging program
The Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) requires completion of a bridging program to support internationally educated pharmacy technicians’ (IEPTs) transition to practice in Alberta. The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) discontinued its bridging program, delivered by Selkirk College, in December 2019. Currently, an equivalent program is not available. Along with four other provinces, ACP is researching a replacement program to fulfill this registration requirement.
As an interim measure, Council has approved the following policy:
Before an IEPT can apply for registration on the provisional pharmacy technician register, they must complete one of the following courses:
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) IPHE101 Course “Orientation to Canadian Healthcare;” or
- University of Toronto (U of T) Course 3645 “Canadian Health Care System, Culture and Context for Internationally Educated Healthcare Professionals.”
This approach requires completion of the required course before the Structured Practical Training program, jurisprudence exam, and PEBC qualifying exam Part II (OSPE).
ACP acknowledges these courses are not a replacement for a comprehensive bridging program. However, in the absence of a program, either of these courses offer an introduction to the Canadian healthcare system, providing foundational knowledge to support IEPT transition to practice in Alberta.
Earlier this spring, it was clarified that provincial legislation does not clearly authorize pharmacists or pharmacy technicians to provide services for animals. The Veterinary Profession Act restricts the acts of prescribing, compounding, dispensing, and selling drugs for animals to veterinarians. ACP has invested substantively in seeking legislative amendment to correct this barrier. Engagement with stakeholders, and feedback received from regulated members and stakeholders to proposed amendments to the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians prompted Council to review the role of pharmacy professionals in animal health. Legislative amendments are being pursued with the Minister of Health and the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Please monitor future editions of the Link for updates on this initiative.
PrescribeIT® is an e-prescribing/communication solution that is being developed nationally through the sponsorship and leadership of Canada Health Infoway. Currently, it facilitates the transmission of prescriptions and e-communication between prescribers and pharmacies. TELUS is the current service provider. An increasing number of provinces have indicated their support for PrescribeIT®, as have most major pharmacy chains and banners. E-prescribing will have an increasing presence in pharmacy practice and is expected to be normalized in the future. Darcy Stann, Senior Advisor Regulatory Affairs-West (PrescribeIT®) addressed Council, providing an overview of PrescribeIT®, why it is important, what has been achieved, and what might be expected moving forward.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for alternative ways of delivering prescriptions. Recognizing the support that PrescribeIT® has received from major national pharmacy chains and banners, ACP now views e-prescribing as an important solution to future pharmacy practice. While PrescribeIT® will enable prescriptions to be received in a new format, this does not change practice expectations of pharmacists. Success depends on pharmacists continuing to assess patients to determine the appropriateness of prescriptions they are prescribed.