Calgary Co-op is a big believer in the importance of integrating regulated technicians into its operations.
By Mike Boivin BSc.Phm.
The chain of pharmacies located in food stores in and around Calgary has regulated technicians in 11 of its 23 pharmacies, with a focus on placing these team members in the mid- to high-volume pharmacies. “We have been very supportive of the role of our regulated technicians, as they allow our pharmacists to provide an increasing number of clinical services in their practice,” say Mark Elderkin and Ryan Keller, pharmacy operations managers at Calgary Co-op. “They have been instrumental in helping our pharmacists elevate their practices to the next level.”
Allowing each pharmacist and regulated technician to practise to his or her full scope is key to improving the delivery of patient services. That’s why, in 2013, Calgary Co-op decided to develop a best practices document for the role of the regulated technician within the organization.
“We thought it was important to provide some structure for this new role, and we wanted to ensure our staff were aware of the services our regulated technicians could deliver,” Mark and Ryan note. “Originally, this best practice document did not allow our technicians to practise to the full level of their scope. We thought this was important, because it permitted each of our team members to become comfortable with the role before completely adjusting the workflow. We wanted to walk before we ran.”
After the pharmacy team became increasingly comfortable with these changes, the company changed its best practice document to allow the regulated technicians to utilize their full scope of practice.
The process has been so successful that Calgary Co-op is on the look-out to add more regulated technicians to its operations. “We try to be very supportive of our pharmacy team, and we support our regulated technicians through payment of licensing fees and malpractice insurance. We feel that with our commitment to all our staff, we can improve patient care.”
Calgary Co-op’s top tips for integrating regulated pharmacy technicians
- Start slowly with no drastic changes. “Our initial best practice document allowed for everyone to develop a comfort level for this new role.”
- Move towards a full scope of practice. “We saw the greatest benefits when we allowed each of our regulated technicians to practise within the full scope. This also enhanced the care our pharmacists could provide.”
- Keep an eye on scheduling. “We are very careful to ensure that our regulated technicians are in stores at the right place and right time to ensure they are utilized most effectively.”
- Move them away from the pharmacy assistant role. “It is important to have clearly defined role distinctions between your assistants and technicians. We try to ensure our technicians are not performing tasks that could be completed by other pharmacy staff.”
- Keep pushing for change. “By pushing our staff members to maximize their scope of practice, we ensure they are constantly evolving to allow for the best possible care for every patient at our pharmacies.”