On April 1, 2017, we will celebrate 10 years since Alberta legislation came into effect allowing pharmacists to prescribe Schedule 1 drugs and administer drugs by injection. This change invited a new focus on people, rather than on prescriptions. It introduced a dramatic shift in the culture of pharmacist practice, and changes in pharmacist behaviours that continue to be a work in progress.
ACP has contributed to many initiatives enabling Alberta pharmacists to meet the needs of individuals, their families, and our health system ̶ providing opportunities greater than in any other jurisdiction in the world. As we commemorate this 10-year milestone, I invite you to reflect on the achievements we have made, recognize the gaps Albertans are still experiencing in the health system, and identify the opportunities pharmacists have to positively impact the health and well-being of the individuals and families they serve.
A look back…
Over the past 10 years, ACP has contributed to the development of Netcare. While this portal for health professionals has yet to meet the expectations of Alberta pharmacists, it does provide pharmacists access to comprehensive dispensed drug data and laboratory results about individuals in their care. ACP has enabled pharmacists the privilege to order laboratory tests, a complementary tool to make informed drug therapy decisions. These opportunities do not exist in most other Canadian jurisdictions, nor in many other countries in the developed world.
In 2009 and 2010, ACP supported the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association (RxA) to redefine how pharmacy services are delivered and reimbursed. We recognized that new privileges granted to pharmacists demanded an increased focus on individuals and their health, not on dispensing drugs. In 2013, a new service and reimbursement model came into effect supporting the pharmacists’ role as a care provider, not just a dispenser of drugs. This was yet another new opportunity not available in other Canadian provinces, nor developed countries.
In 2011, we welcomed pharmacy technicians to our college as Alberta’s newest regulated health profession. They are a critical resource to enable and support pharmacists assume a clinical role in caring for individuals. Today, we are confronted with two challenges: to fully integrate pharmacy technicians into pharmacy practice, and to meet the human resource demands for pharmacy technicians in Alberta.
One of ACP’s five-year goals is to evolve pharmacy practice so that Albertans will consistently receive and increasingly expect quality care from pharmacists who practice to their full scope. Beyond being important to the health of individuals, their families, and our communities, practicing to our full scope is important for the effective and responsible use of our health resources. It is consistent with our Code of Ethics and our responsibility to the individuals we serve, society, and our profession.
I invite you to reflect on the changes that you have made to your practice over the past 10 years. What milestones signifying success have you achieved to better meet the needs of the individuals you serve, your community, and our health system?
Take a moment to consider small steps that you might still take to challenge yourself and evolve your practice. Are you using all of the tools and opportunities available to you? How can you enhance quality care and elevate the personal experiences for those you serve? In taking advantage of new opportunities, you can make a big difference in the lives of those you serve, and ultimately grow your personal satisfaction in your professional role.