Regulation Creates New Opportunities for Pharmacy Technicians
Career Path : Healthcare
The pharmacy technician practice in Canada is rapidly evolving. Many provinces have changed legislation to now formally recognize pharmacy technicians and the others are in the process of doing so. As pharmacy technicians had increasingly become responsible for managing heavy workloads in recent years, a vast majority of pharmacists supported regulation. While health authorities are not requiring existing pharmacy technicians to become regulated – at least, not yet -since 2011, only those who meet the new regulations are granted the protected title of Pharmacy Technician. The changes will bring added responsibility, accountability and liability upon completion of a recognized professional education and certification.
Pharmacy technicians dispense prescription drugs and medical devices to patients while talking to them about their medications, reviewing prescription requests and other administrative duties. They generally work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist in community or hospital pharmacies, or sometimes in long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies or government roles. There has been a greater reliance on these professionals to assume greater responsibility in recent years with less direct oversight, a trend that will continue as regulation becomes the norm.
Registration Process for Current Technicians
Regulated pharmacy technicians have an increased accountability and are required by legislation to have liability insurance to prepare, process and compound prescriptions. During this transition period, current technicians have until 2015 to pursue a special expedited path to regulation, after which full pharmacy technician training will be required for all. If they have been employed in an approved pharmacy practice for at least 2000 hours in the past three years they may complete the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) evaluating exam and the bridging program, which is designed to provide the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to enable the additional job responsibilities.
All current technicians seeking regulation must complete the Professional Practice module of the bridging program, while the other modules can be challenged by passing a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) exam. Once this program has been completed, the next requirement is to pass a College of Pharmacists of BC (CPBC) Jurisprudence and PEBC qualifying exam to test relevant provincial legislation and ethics.
The timing is excellent for new students to enter the industry because it will take a long time to educate, test and register sufficient technicians who meet the new standard and those who get there first will be at a distinct advantage. The first step is enrolling in an accredited post-secondary program recognized by the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) that covers pharmacology, professional practice, management of drug distribution systems and product preparation. There are currently seven such colleges in BC, of which Thompson Career College was the first to receive accreditation.
After graduating from a CCAPP accredited program, aspiring pharmacy technicians must successfully complete a Structured Practical Training (SPT) program, a supervised training period within a pharmacy including regular competency assessments by superiors. The CPBC Jurisprudence and PEBC qualifying exams are the final steps before achieving registration.
Visit Thompson Career College for more information on pharmacy technician or nursing unit clerk training.