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Why new standards?

May 31, 2023
ACP explains why the time is right to reimagine the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians.

The Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) has drafted new Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians (SPPPT), currently out for consultation.

Why now?

Simply put, the time is right to refresh the standards. The SPPPT were first introduced in 2007 when pharmacists became regulated under the Health Professions Act and new roles and responsibilities were approved. Except for a few amendments, the standards have remained relatively unchanged. Yet, pharmacy practice has evolved immensely during the past 16 years, and much has been learned. Prescribing and injecting drugs by pharmacists are now common as are pharmacy technicians and their professional roles. One of the goals in ACP’s five-year strategic plan is that “there is a modern and relevant framework to regulate pharmacy practice.” A key objective within this goal was to ensure “standards are current, relevant, clear, concise, and appropriately balance inputs, processes, and outputs.”

“The evolution we’ve experienced in pharmacy practice has created an opportunity to modernize the standards,” said Jeff Whissell, ACP’s Deputy Registrar. “Although our standards have served us well, they haven’t kept up with the pace of change. The draft standards reflect our changing healthcare environment and public expectations, while at the same time retain important content that exists in the current standards.”

How were the draft standards developed?

Work on the new standards began in 2021 when Council approved several principles to guide development. These principles included that the standards:

  • be person centred by focusing on patient assessment, rather than prescription assessment;
  • are required expectations of all regulated members in any practice setting;
  • define the outer boundary of pharmacy practice;
  • clearly differentiate between the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and indicate where role overlap exists; and
  • consider innovation, technology, new models of practice, and different practice environments.

ACP then conducted an extensive environmental scan of pharmacy standards of practice from jurisdictions across Canada and internationally, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and South Africa. The environmental scan identified opportunities to improve our own standards in areas such as standard structure, person-centred care, evidence-based practice, consent, duty to address concerns, and clarifying roles and supervision requirements of non-regulated staff.

“Regulators in other professions and jurisdictions have taken many different approaches to writing their standards,” said Monty Stanowich, ACP Policy Lead and Compliance Officer. “It was important to examine what others have done to help us identify gaps within our existing standards and create opportunities for improvement.”

To address the opportunities identified in the environmental scan, the draft standards are divided into eight domains, each with a statement that summarizes the standards within that domain. Each domain is then divided into topics. Each topic has an outcome standard which describes the expected patient outcome that must be achieved for that standard to be met. The achievement of each outcome standard is detailed further through the inclusion of descriptive standards that provide specific details of the activities needed to achieve the required outcome.

“The focus of every standard must be grounded in person-centred care,” said Monty. “So, by meeting the standard of practice, you are achieving a desired outcome for your patient.”

Once drafted, the standards were reviewed by a group of regulated members representing a diverse range of practices and members of the public. The feedback collected from this group was used to shape the draft standards that were reviewed and approved by Council for consultation in April 2023.

Let us know your thoughts!

This brings us to the final step of the review process: consultation with regulated members and other interested parties. We invite all regulated members to review the draft standards and provide their feedback using the online tool. We want to hear from you! Once the consultation period ends on July 12, 2023, ACP will consider all comments and questions and prepare a revised version of the draft standards for Council’s consideration before the end of the year.