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Provisional pharmacists looking for preceptors

April 4, 2018
Preceptors in Structured Practical Training program the gatekeepers to entry to practice.

Whether University of Alberta pharmacist graduates or International Pharmacy Graduates, provisional pharmacists (or interns) are always looking for opportunities to work with preceptors in clinical settings. Preceptors not only provide work experience opportunities for provisional pharmacists, they also have a huge responsibility to assess if provisional pharmacists are ready to practise on their own.

“Preceptors play an important role in the development of future pharmacists,” said Debbie Lee, ACP’s Registration Director. “They’re the gatekeepers of entry into the profession. It’s such a big responsibility. It’s not just about observing someone for so many hours or teaching them. It’s more about showing provisional pharmacists the ropes and how they can apply what they’ve learned from school or their home country into practice.”

In ACP’s Structured Practical Training program, preceptors work with provisional pharmacists in one of three different levels. Level one (450 hours) is an introduction to working as a clinical pharmacist, level two (450 hours) focuses on patient care, intra- and inter-professional collaboration, quality and safety, health promotion, and communication and education; and level three (100) hours is an opportunity for provisional pharmacists to demonstrate their readiness to practise.

“Level three is a hands-off, two-week assessment period,” said Debbie. “Preceptors observe to see how provisional pharmacists interact with patients, how they interact with physicians, how they make assessments, whether they follow the patient care process, and whether they are documenting appropriately. At that point, preceptors are there to make an assessment.”

The assessment process for all three levels of the SPT program involve a comprehensive assessment form to be filled out by the preceptor. It was an important step by ACP to standardize the assessment process for both provisional pharmacists and preceptors.

“We needed to define the various performance levels for each of the key competencies,” said Debbie. “We work with preceptors with different backgrounds, working at different pharmacies. We’re trying to standardize the experience and the expectations that our preceptors have of provisional pharmacists. If provisional pharmacists don’t meet the minimum level across the board, their preceptor can’t advance them to the next level of the program. It’s not about the hours. It’s about demonstrating competencies.”

ACP encourages eligible pharmacists to be preceptors in the SPT program. The college also encourages provisional pharmacists to take the time to choose the right preceptor for them.

“You want to make sure you have a good experience,” said Debbie. “If you are at a practice where you don’t believe you’ll get what you need to prepare to be a pharmacist, then I encourage you to look for a new preceptor. It goes both ways. You need to be comfortable with your preceptor and have someone who can really provide the feedback you need to succeed.”

For more information on the SPT program visit the ACP website.