Changes to pharmacy practice

Pharmacist Jason Lee speaks to the Rotary Club of Fairview about changes in the practice of pharmacy. To his right is Rotarian Ralph Boytinck, a former pharmacist who was fascinated by the changes. CHRIS EAKIN/FAIRVIEW POST/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

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Pharmacist Jason Lee speaks to the Rotary Club of Fairview about changes in the practice of pharmacy. To his right is Rotarian Ralph Boytinck, a former pharmacist who was fascinated by the changes.CHRIS EAKIN/FAIRVIEW POST/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Chris Eakin/Fairview Post
Pharmacists are generally viewed as the person who gives you the medication prescribed by your doctor and sometimes offers advice about the medication.
With recent changes in legislation and in the education of pharmacists, their scope of practice – what they are actually allowed to do – has increased and Jason Lee of Pharmasave spoke to the Rotary Club of Fairview about those changes.
Pharmacists are now allowed to actually prescribe medication, though not narcotics and only when they are sure of which medication is the best for the patients condition.
They are also allowed to give extensions to prescriptions for conditions when the patient is on the medication long-term, such as heart medication, cholesterol control pills or diabetes.
Lee began his post-secondary education in the general science program at Grande Prairie before transferring to Grand McEwen and then applying to the school of pharmacy at University of Alberta. He explained most students must have at least two years in general science before they can apply to the school of pharmacy.
He explained that besides government legislation, pharmacists are ruled by the College of Pharmacy whose role is to protect the public and regulate pharmacies and the Pharmacists Association whose role is more to promote the businesses.
He also explained that pharmacists must apply for the expanded right to prescribe drugs, must have a year’s experience before they apply and the application includes an eight page form as well as a practical test. They must have three case studies from their own practice and if their application doesn’t pass after three tries, they can’t do it again.
He said the change has taken some load off of out-patient and many doctors appreciate the change to a more team-centred approach to treating patients.
Examples of the kinds of things they can prescribe for include infections, streppe throat, cold sores, gout, asthma, blood pressure, diabetes. They can also offer travel consultations (which public health also offers) and can do injections such as flu vaccines.
They can order some lab tests but cannot refer patients to a specialist – their doctor would still have to do that.
Lee says he sees several people a day needing prescriptions.

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