Scope of practice
As regulated health professionals, pharmacy technicians are legally responsible and accountable for their work. Although unregulated practitioners feel a personal responsibility for the work they undertake, this is different than the legal accountability and liability conferred with regulation.
Having mechanisms to ensure accountability is important to the public, the profession, and the college. The regulation of technicians provides a greater degree of protection for the public as pharmacy technicians move to higher levels of responsibility (e.g., conducting restricted activities unsupervised and supervising others) and permit more effective use of the skills of pharmacists.
What can a regulated pharmacy technician do?
Schedule 19 of the Health Professions Act provides the following role statement for pharmacy technicians:
In their practice, pharmacy technicians promote safe and effective drug distribution and, in relation to that, do one or more of the following under the direction of a pharmacist:
a) receive, gather, enter and store prescription and patient information,
b) store and repackage products,
c) participate in the management of systems for drug distribution and inventory control,
d) participate in the research, development, implementation and evaluation of quality assurance and risk management policies, procedures and activities,
e) provide restricted activities authorized by the regulations,
f) instruct patients about the use of health aids and devices, and
g) teach the practice of pharmacy technicians.
Subsection (e) refers to restricted activities. What are these?
Section 21 of the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians Profession Regulation states that, under the direction of a clinical or courtesy pharmacist, a pharmacy technician be authorized to:
a) dispense a Schedule 1 drug or Schedule 2 drug;
b) compound, provide for selling or sell a Schedule 1 drug or a Schedule 2 drug;
c) compound blood products.
A pharmacy technician may only perform the restricted activity if:
a) a pharmacist has evaluated the prescription for the drug,
b) a pharmacist has assessed the patient, the patient’s health history and medication record and has determined that the drug therapy is appropriate for the patient, and
c) a pharmacist is available to counsel the patient and to monitor the patient’s drug therapy.
What does “under the direction of” mean?
For the purpose of this section, “under the direction of” means that the pharmacist who is providing the direction must
a) practice at the same pharmacy as the pharmacy technician, unless otherwise authorized in writing by the Registrar,
b) ensure there is a system in place in the pharmacy that complies with the Standards of Practice under which
i) a pharmacist is available to consult with, provide guidance to and, if necessary, provide assistance to the pharmacy technician,
ii) the involvement of the pharmacy technician in the restricted activities can be monitored and assessed,
iii) the pharmacy technician reports to the pharmacist who is responsible for providing direction to the pharmacy technician; and
c) be authorized to perform the restricted activities for which the pharmacist is providing direction to the pharmacy technician.
The difference between direction and supervision
Supervision is provided by the pharmacist on shift that day and that pharmacist must be available to provide hands-on assistance, either immediately or within a reasonable period of time.
Direction is provided by a pharmacist who works in the same pharmacy, but not necessarily on the same shift as the technician. That pharmacist is responsible for ensuring that there are appropriate policies and procedures in place to maintain the integrity of the dispensing and compounding processes and for making sure that a pharmacist is available to work with the technician as required in the regulations and the standards.