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Introducing ACP’s new Structured Practical Training (SPT) program for pharmacists

February 1, 2017

Today, the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) is launching a new way of learning for all soon-to-be-regulated pharmacists – also known as interns. 

We have transformed the Structured Practical Training (SPT) program – moving away from a traditional time-based system of completing a set number of practicum hours, to a structure that focusses on mastering the competencies required at entry to practice. Competency-based training offers an objective approach to assessing an intern’s readiness for practice, while providing a personalized learning experience to meet identified developmental needs. The role of the preceptor is critical to the program’s success. They hold immense professional responsibility to support an intern’s development and learning needs, and must be committed to the process.

More good news … the SPT program will now be managed in a new online environment, making it easier for the intern and preceptor to monitor, track, assess and document progress. The online portal is user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to navigate. Furthermore, all resources, manuals, assessment tools, instructions, assignments and help guides are housed online to make it convenient, accessible and easy to manage the program.

Finally, the new SPT program will ensure consistency in experiential learning throughout all learning sites in Alberta. Interns will have an organized, structured and supervised training experience leading to desired outcomes of being competent, responsible, patient- and outcomes-focussed healthcare providers.

Highlights of new program

  • The new SPT program is competency-based (demonstrate proficiencies over hours invested);
  • All learning activities are guided, have clear objectives and are linked to specific outcomes;
  • The SPT program has moved to an online environment and is accessible by both the intern and preceptor;
  • Extensive tools and resources are available to support interns’ learning needs and goals;
  • New program rules have been put in place and/or modified.

New Program Rules

  1. Focus is placed on mastering the entry-to-practice competencies, rather than hours invested in a practice setting. Still, a minimum baseline of 1000 structured practical training hours has been established as a guideline only. Additional hours are often required.

    The division of minimum hours for each level has been established as:
    Level I – a minimum of 450 hours
    Level II – a minimum of 450 hours
    Level III – a minimum of 100 hours

  2. Interns must work under direct supervision of a clinical pharmacist or courtesy pharmacist for all three levels of the SPT program.
  3. Level III of the SPT program must be completed at a different learning site, and with a different preceptor than level II.
  4. A preceptor may not have more than two interns under his/her preceptorship at the same time.
  5. A preceptor cannot be in a close personal relationship with the intern.

Who will be impacted?


  1. New interns registering with ACP on February 1, 2017 and beyond will begin their structured practical training through the new online SPT program.
  2. For interns who have registered with ACP before February 1, 2017, a six-month transition period has been established to complete their current program. These interns will not be required to convert to the online program; however, they may choose the new pathway to take advantage of the expanded learning opportunity. 
  3. Current interns and university students can expect an email from ACP outlining their program options, next steps, and answers to frequently asked questions.


In addition to the new rules, it is important for preceptors to remember that 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. The supervising pharmacist is responsible and accountable for all restricted activities performed by the intern while under his/her supervision.

According to the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation:

23(1) A regulated member who consents to provide direct supervision under this Regulation must:

  • be authorized to perform the restricted activity being supervised,
  • be present when the supervised individual is performing the restricted activity, and
  • be able to observe and promptly intervene and stop or change the actions of the individual who is under supervision.

Learn more

To learn about the new SPT program visit the program webpage, download an information brochure for interns, or for preceptors. Please also visit our frequently asked questions page.

Learn more about SPT

Email the SPT Team: