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Practice and beyond: the roles of pharmacy technicians

April 29, 2022
Pharmacy technicians play an essential role in regulating pharmacy practice and operations.

There are over 1,700 pharmacy technicians across Alberta who play a key role in our healthcare system. From 2016 to 2020, there was a 20 per cent increase in the number of registered pharmacy technicians. This significant growth speaks to the important role of these professionals.

Pharmacy technicians play a key role in serving patients and upholding excellence in pharmacy practice with the expertise to support effective pharmacy operations and quality patient care. Beyond their technical practice, pharmacy technicians also serve our healthcare system as leaders at a provincial level by contributing to the regulation of pharmacy technician practices and pharmacy operations. Since becoming regulated professionals in 2012, pharmacy technicians’ roles have continued to expand; this issue of Full Scale reflects on their regulatory roles with the Alberta College of Pharmacy as assessors, coaches, and leaders.

ACP is governed and led by an elected Council and pharmacy technicians fill two seats as members of Council. These provincial leaders serve, support, and protect the public’s health and wellbeing, and uphold ACP’s vision of healthy Albertans through excellence in pharmacy practice. ACP has welcomed five technicians as members of Council and in 2021, Council elected the first pharmacy technician president of ACP. This marked the first time a pharmacy technician was elected to lead a provincial pharmacy college in Canada.

Pharmacy technicians have unique expertise, which contributes to patient care and the assessment of pharmacy practice. In Alberta, pharmacy technicians serve as sterile compounding assessors, using their expertise to monitor this complex component of pharmacy practice. Sterile compounding assessors have extensive technical expertise to effectively assess pharmacy operations; educate pharmacy teams; and support safe, effective, and responsible compounding practices.

As regulated members, all pharmacy technicians participate in the Continuing Competence Program (CCP) to continuously enhance their practices. The CCP requires oversight, provided by the competence committee. The pharmacy technicians who serve on this committee facilitate practice enhancement, assess competence, and address professional development. Through this work, committee members uphold and expand the high standards for technicians as regulated professionals.

Pharmacy technicians also contribute by participating in Hearing Tribunals. When there is a breach in ACP’s Code of Ethics and/or Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, members of the Hearing Tribunal have the weighty task of considering evidence to determine whether the allegations are valid and, if so, whether the actions or omissions of the investigated person amount to unprofessional conduct or misconduct. If the allegations are determined to be well founded, the Tribunal prescribes penalties that it determines to be reasonable and proportionate to the allegations. 

This issue of Full Scale showcases a number of pharmacy technicians who exemplify leadership, accountability, and professionalism by serving in the roles mentioned above. As leaders, they inspire, inform, and educate at a provincial level and continue to expand the possibilities of their profession.