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The *NEW* Pharmacy Technician! Canada's Latest Healthcare Professional!

Updated on June 23, 2013

In the past 3 years, 3 provinces in Canada–Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia–have introduced the “Regulated Pharmacy Technician” title and position as a new class of registrant with each provincial College of Pharmacy.

But hold on, you might ask. Didn’t Pharmacy Technicians already exist before hand?

Yes, that is correct. But pharmacy technicians didn’t really have 1.)Set and specific standards and practices as aligned and implemented by both the Federal and Provincial Pharmacy regulatory bodies; and 2.) Most of the work technicians did were simple hand-me-down duties that required little to no specific educational training; as such, when the pharmacist did need help with other aspects of pharmacy that required a higher degree of education–i.e, verifying prescriptions and signing it off for release–they cannot delegate the task to a pharmacy technician (or risk losing their license if something goes horribly wrong and the regulatory bodies in charge are notified.)

With those considerations in mind, as well as the rising need for a Pharmacist’s drug knowledge and expertise “on the front lines” so to speak and not “behind walls”, i.e, simply signing off on prescriptions and only approaching the customer when counselling is needed, each province started creating the “new” version of the Pharmacy Technician.

And so, the titles “Regulated Pharmacy Technician”, orRPhT, and “Pharmacy Assistant”, were officially created.

What’s The Difference?

Members of the public and even those within the Pharmacy industry often wondered what the real difference is, since both still worked the same jobs. However, as the provinces started approving the necessary changes needed to create this new profession, the difference between a RPhT and a PA were HUGE.

In a nutshell:

A PA (Pharmacy Assistant) job duties include:

- Receiving prescriptions from patients

- Checking drug and dosage directions for any discrepancies

- Processing the drug order through the pharmacy prescription processing system (Healthwatch, Nexxgen, Kroll, etc.)

- Selecting and packaging the said prescriptions for the pharmacist to check

- Ringing out the transaction after the pharmacist completes final check and patient counselling

- Other job duties include ordering pharmacy supplies, ordering medications (with the exception of narcotics and controlled substances), maintaining inventory records, and general pharmacy maintenance (dusting, cleaning, etc.).

And now, the RPhT (Regulated Pharmacy Technician) job duties include:

- Receiving prescriptions from patients

- Checking drug and dosage directions for any discrepancies

- Processing the drug order through the pharmacy prescription processing system (Healthwatch, Nexxgen, Kroll, etc.)

- Selecting and packaging the said prescriptions for the pharmacist to check

- Ringing out the transaction after the pharmacist completes patient counselling

- Other job duties include ordering pharmacy supplies, ordering medications (with the exception of narcotics and controlled substances), maintaining inventory records, and general pharmacy maintenance (dusting, cleaning, etc.).

*NEW* Accept verbal prescriptions

*NEW*Accept and release prescription transfers

*NEW*Perform the Final Check on a prescription, then passing the finished package to the Pharmacist, who will then conduct the Final Therapeutic Check while counselling the patient.

*NEW*Compound blood products (for those practicing in hospitals-Only applicable to some provinces)

*NEW*Teach the practice of pharmacy technicians (for those who want to become instructors, only RPhT’s are allowed-Only applicable to certain provinces)

*NEW*Instruct patients on the use of diabetic supplies and machines, as well as other select medical equipment (Only applicable to certain provinces)

As you can see, the scope of practice varies IMMENSELY between what was once 1 synonymous profession.

As such, the chain of command in a Pharmacy has now shifted :

Pharmacy Assistant —> Regulated Pharmacy Technician —> Pharmacist

With that information in mind, which path would you choose to follow? Each position warrants its own PROS and CONS, but do keep in mind:

Unless you plan on teaching, or currently work in a hospital setting, becoming a Regulated Pharmacy Technician is completely VOLUNTARY.


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    • profile image

      jitendar nirmal 3 years ago

      i 5yer exp in indai

    • TheYoungDad profile image
      Author

      Retired Pharmacy Tech 3 years ago from Canada

      Doesn't matter, no amount of experience ANYWHERE will matter to an employer. Perhaps in a hospital setting, that may go into account, but in a retail setting, we have turned down many applicants who simply relied on their experience in another country. Unless you have mastered SDM Healthwatch, Nexxsys, or Kroll (the 3 main pharmacy OS used in retail pharmacies) you start from the bottom. Win over a potential employer with your personality and attitude instead.

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