5 Ways We Work to Assure the Quality of Your Pharmacy Care
Which type of health care professional do you see the most? It’s probably not a doctor or nurse. For most people, it’s likely a pharmacist.
Like many health professionals, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need to be registered to practice in Ontario. As the organization that licenses them, the Ontario College of Pharmacists (“the College”) aims to protect the public by promoting quality and safe pharmacy care.
The College is the regulating body for approximately 17,000 pharmacists, and another 5,000 pharmacy technicians. On top of that, the College regulates the province’s community and hospital pharmacies. How does the College protect your interests, health and well-being as a pharmacy patient? Here are some of the ways we do this.
1. Setting the standard
The College develops practice policies, standards and guidelines, including a Code of Ethics, and enforces legislation that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must follow in order to practice in Ontario. Adhering to them helps pharmacy professionals support your best possible health outcomes.
2. Authorization to practice
The professionals behind the pharmacy counter have been highly trained before being granted the right to practice in Ontario.
Pharmacists must have at least five years of university-level pharmacy education before registering to practice. They’re specially trained in dispensing prescription and non-prescription medications, drug therapy, understanding drug interactions and side effects, and advising patients on their health and medications. Pharmacy technicians have to complete their own accredited education program, including training in various aspects of handling and dispensing medications.
In addition to their training, both types of professionals must pass provincial and national exams on pharmacy practice, laws and standards.
All pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in Ontario must be registered with the College and only professionals who’ve met all of the requirements are granted registration in order to practice.
3. Maintaining quality
To stay registered, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must commit to ongoing learning throughout their careers. As well, every year 20% of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are randomly selected to complete a self-assessment.
Continually improving, year after year, contributes to better and safer pharmacy care. That’s a big part of protecting you as a member of the public.
Pharmacy professionals are required to retain a learning portfolio and add to it over time in order to expand their skills and knowledge.
4. Coaching to enhance care
How can you trust that pharmacy professionals apply the best processes and approaches? That’s part of their training, but the College also provides face-to-face coaching for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. It happens through what are called practice assessments.
Experienced pharmacy professionals employed by the College, called practice advisors, visit pharmacies to observe pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in action. Practice advisors review and discuss things like decision-making, communication and education with patients, record-keeping, patient assessments and (for the pharmacy technicians) patient care support activities.
All of this is a way to check that pharmacy professionals are asking you the right questions, listening to you, reviewing your medications, making sound recommendations and tracking important information.
The assessments, and the feedback on potential opportunities to improve, help ensure that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are meeting the highest quality standards. That enhances the care you receive, and your confidence in it.
5. Addressing complaints
Have a concern about the care provided by a pharmacist or pharmacy technician? If you’re not satisfied, you can talk to the College for guidance or file a formal complaint.
The College takes all complaints seriously and has a process to investigate and take the appropriate action, all in the best interests of the public. To learn more about filing a complaint, visit the College’s website.