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Questions about Pharmacy Technician Registration
- Do I have to become a registered pharmacy technician?
The NL Pharmacy Board does not require that all pharmacy support staff become registered pharmacy technicians; however, some employers may determine that this is the most appropriate path for their organization and require that some or all of their staff become registered. Regardless, the title of “pharmacy technician” is restricted under the Pharmacy Act, 2012 and therefore, those who choose not to register with the Board, or are unsuccessful in the process, will no longer be able to refer to themselves as pharmacy technicians and will have to use another title such as “pharmacy assistant”.
- What is the practical training program?
The Pharmacy Technician Practical Training Program is a period of time served under the supervision of an approved preceptor.
- CCAPP-accredited program graduates must serve a minimum of 8 weeks
- Candidates registering through the transition (bridging) path may complete the requirements over a shorter time period, usually 8-12 weeks
During this period, the candidate will complete a variety of activities designed to evaluate his or her ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned during the pharmacy technician education program or bridging program in a real world setting. These activities fall within the registered pharmacy technician’s scope of practice and are based on competencies set forth in the NAPRA Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians at Entry to Practice (2014). A manual outlining the activities to be completed and documented by the candidate and preceptor will be provided prior to the start of the training period. These activities include:
- receiving verbal orders from physicians or other prescribers;
- sending and receiving prescription transfers to/from other pharmacies;
- demonstrating effective problem-solving and communication skills; and
- effectively performing the final check of a prescription
Once the required period of time has been served and the activities in the manual are completed to the preceptor’s satisfaction, he or she will complete an evaluation of the candidate’s performance and submit it to the NLPB.
- What is the scope of practice for a registered pharmacy technician?
In the Spring 2017 edition of the NLPB newsletter, The Apothecary (http://www.nlpb.ca/media/Apothecary-Spring2017.pdf), the following table was published (to enlarge, right click on image and select “open image in new window”):
For more information, please view the NAPRA Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians at Entry to Practice and Model Standards of Practice for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians (both linked above under “Important Links”). These are really the “gold standard” for technician practice in Canada.
- Will it be possible for a prescription (new or refill) to be released to a patient without a pharmacist involved in the process?
No. As discussed above, Pharmacists will continue to be involved in every new and refill prescription as they remain solely responsible for assessing the therapeutic/clinical appropriateness of drug therapy (patient assessment, confirm dose and interval, check patient profile, and identify drug interactions) and for providing patient consultation. A prescription cannot be released to a patient without a pharmacist having performed these cognitive functions.
- If I am working in a pharmacy as a registered pharmacy technician and I make an error, will I be held responsible?
Yes, pharmacy technicians registered under the Pharmacy Act, 2012 and its associated regulations are granted a scope of practice which allows them to have independent authority and responsibility. Along with that comes responsibility for their actions.
- Is liability insurance required?
Yes, in accordance with legislation, all registrants are required to carry professional liability insurance that meets the requirements set out by the Board in the Interpretation Guide – Professional Liability Insurance Requirements for Registration, posted under Resources on the Registration & Authorization Information page of the website.
- Will pharmacy technicians be required to participate in Professional Development?
Yes, documentation of Professional Development is a requirement for registration renewal each year (Please Note: such documentation is not required for initial registration). As registrants of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board, pharmacy technicians are required by legislation, just as pharmacists are, to participate in Professional Development in accordance with the NLPB Standards of Practice – Professional Development for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, posted on the Standards, Guidelines and Policies page of the website.
With regard to accredited learning, there are a number of technician‐specific offerings to consider:
- The annual NLPB Symposium includes an educational component and is open to all registrants, including pharmacy technicians.
- Canadian Healthcare Network have a series of programs specific to pharmacy technicians. In particular, Tech Talk for Technicians has great content and is an excellent source of learning.
- The Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians (CAPT) has annual National and NL Conferences that are an excellent source of professional development specifically tailored to pharmacy technicians.
- Pharmacy technicians who have been registered for a minimum of one year can participate in the preceptor training program and become authorized to serve as a preceptor (http://www.nlpb.ca/media/Application‐Authorization‐Preceptor‐Feb2016.pdf) to pharmacy technician candidates.
Additionally, registrants can claim 15 credits upon successful completion of Parts I and II of the PEBC Qualifying Exam or 5 credits upon successful completion of Part II only. PLEASE NOTE that these exams must have been completed within the Professional Development year you are documenting – For example, exams written in 2017 can be documented for renewal of registration for 2018.
Finally, while the Standards state that a minimum of 7.5 credits must be from accredited sources – the rest can be from self-directed learning. This can include service as a preceptor, acting as an OSPE or OSCE assessor, completing first aid and CPR courses or “Miscellaneous professional activities from which the registrant derives educational benefit”. Pharmacy technicians may have the opportunity to complete other programs throughout the year from which educational benefit is derived but which are not formally accredited. You would self‐assign credits at 1 credit per hour of learning and retain proof of participation in accordance with the Standards in your portfolio in case of audit. Please check the Standards of Practice – Professional Development for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians for examples of what constitutes valid sources of learning and what would not be considered appropriate.
Don’t forget all registrants are required to document their learning in the NLPB online Registrant Portal. Once registered with the Board you will be given login credentials to access the portal through the “Registrant Login” on the NLPB website homepage. Please remember to also retain your Supporting Documentation for each program completed, in case of audit.
Questions about Lock and Leave
- When must a lock and leave enclosure be installed and utilized?
The Standards of Pharmacy Operation-Community Pharmacy state that “the dispensary must be able to be secured against entry by the public or other staff when a pharmacist or pharmacy technician is not present in the pharmacy” and “if the pharmacy is accessible to the public or other staff at any time when a pharmacist or pharmacy technician is not present (such as for cleaning, inventory, or overnight stocking), a lock and leave enclosure must be installed and utilized”.
- What area of the pharmacy must be secured by a lock and leave enclosure?
In general, it is the dispensary area of the pharmacy that must be secured by a physical lock and leave enclosure; however, in the context of the Standards, this includes any area of the pharmacy where patient information and prescription records are stored as well as all shelves, displays, fixtures or storage areas containing Schedule I or II drugs. Therefore, any stock rooms or storage areas outside the dispensary where Schedule I and II drugs are stored or where patient information and prescription records are kept must also be secured to prevent access by the public or non-registrant staff.
- Our pharmacy is an “open concept” design. Do I have to put a gate around the entire dispensary area?
For an open concept pharmacy design, there would appear to be no way of preventing access from the remainder of the premises without putting a gate around the entire dispensary area.
- The Standards of Pharmacy Operation-Community Pharmacy state that “the lock and leave enclosure should be constructed in such a way to physically and securely separate the dispensary from the rest of the pharmacy”, what would be an appropriate lock and leave enclosure?
The lock and leave enclosure must be a physical barrier that is secure. In general, the following guidelines can be applied in order to install an enclosure that meets NLPB expectations:
- a) a wall composed of transparent, semi-transparent or opaque materials, or any combination thereof, at least five feet high with adequate doors to permit complete security during periods of closure, and to permit full access by the public to the dispensary area when professional services are available; or
- b) a sliding or folding wall in accordance with the height and material specifications in (a) above, which will completely surround and secure dispensary area during the period of closure, and
- c) a lockable entrance to the Lock and Leave enclosure, which prevents access by the public, or non-registrant staff, when a pharmacist or pharmacy technician is not in attendance.
An Application for Lock & Leave Approval, that includes a description of the construction of the physical enclosure must be submitted by the pharmacist-in-charge and approved by NLPB prior to operating a pharmacy with a lock and leave enclosure. Any concerns and/or recommendations related to the proposed lock and leave structure will be communicated to the pharmacist-in-charge at that time so that they can be addressed in advance of construction.
- Does the lock and leave enclosure have to be utilized if I am on the premises but not in the dispensary?
The dispensary area and any area where patient information, prescription files, and Schedule I and II drugs are stored must be secured any time a pharmacist or pharmacy technician is not present, even if they are on the pharmacy premises (for example, during lunch or supper breaks or during extended patient consultations).
- Can I leave an assistant in the dispensary while the pharmacist is not there?
No, since assistants are not regulated and do not have their own independent scope of practice, they may only be present in the dispensary when they are being directly supervised by a pharmacist or pharmacy technician.
- Can prescriptions that are ready for pick-up be given to patients when the pharmacist is not present?
As per the Standards of Pharmacy Operation-Community Pharmacy, previously-prepared prescriptions may be made available for pick-up when the lock and leave enclosure is secured, in accordance with the following:
- a) Such prescriptions must be stored in a secured area outside of the lock and leave enclosure that also takes into account any special storage considerations including breakage and refrigeration.
- b) The patient’s confidentiality must be protected at all times by ensuring the outer package containing only the patient’s name and address.
- c) Any patient (or designated agent) who picks up a prescription during these times must still be provided with proper and sufficient counseling by the pharmacist.
- d) A documented “paper trail” (either physical or electronic) of all prescriptions picked up, including patient or designated agent signatures must be retained in the pharmacy.
- I have to indicate the hours that a pharmacist will be present on the lock and leave application. Can I change those hours later?
Yes, you may change these hours at any time, as long as you communicate the change to the Board office by completing a revised application form.