Last year was a landmark year for pharmacy care and public safety in British Columbia. The College collaborated with the Ministry of Health, the BCPhA and UBC to advance care in key areas, most notably with the introduction of Pharmacist Prescribing for Minor Ailments and Contraception (PPMAC). This reduced strain on primary care providers and improved client access to medication and care services, with the goal of creating better health outcomes for British Columbians. We thank all the pharmacists who embraced PPMAC and will continue to work with the Ministry on further expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice to support access to care in 2024.
Looking ahead, several changes are coming that will further reshape pharmacy care in BC. The first is our new “What You can Expect from Your Pharmacy Visit” poster, which will be displayed in all community pharmacies across BC in the latter half of 2024.
This person-centered poster, developed through consultation with the First Nations Advisory Group; the BC Public Advisory Group; UBC’s Queer Curriculum Advisory Committee; the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada; and the BCPhA, aims to empower the public to better understand the legislated expectations of pharmacy professionals, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their health and the care they receive. This work is currently posted for public consultation at bcpharmacists.org/bylaws-comment.
Another strategic initiative we’ve been working on is mandatory anonymous medication incident reporting (MIR). While BC is one of the last provinces to implement MIR, we plan on making significant progress this year as we aim to complete partner engagement by the Spring. MIR provides data that can be analyzed to help identify trends in incidents that are occurring and provide pharmacy professionals with opportunities to learn from mistakes, improve practice and better support public safety.
Advancing Reconciliation and Cultural Safety
The College remains committed to addressing Indigenous-specific racism and advancing reconciliation within BC’s health system. In 2023, we engaged with First Nations health leaders in remote communities to gain a better understanding of how pharmacy practice fits alongside Indigenous practices. We also worked with Indigenous partners to identify entrenched cultural barriers in our bylaws, policies, and practices.
In 2024, we will engage in further dialogues with Indigenous Peoples to learn about how we can improve their care experiences in ways that align with Indigenous approaches to health and wellness.
Beyond policy and bylaws, equally important are basic changes in how we think, act, and relate to one another, which is why we encourage all pharmacy professionals to continue to learn how to reduce barriers to care for Indigenous clients and create safer spaces within pharmacy practice.
Last September, the College worked with the First Nations Health Authority and UBC to release “Building Cultural Safety and Humility for First Nations Clients into Pharmacy Practice” which contains two educational courses focused on increasing cultural safety and humility for First Nations clients accessing pharmacy care. The purpose of these courses is to support collective efforts to address systemic Indigenous-specific racism and reduce barriers to healthcare access in pharmacy settings, and we encourage you to complete them.
These courses are available at no cost and can be applied towards your Continuing Education requirements.
We are now preparing to transition to the new Health Professions and Occupations Act (HPOA), which received Royal Assent in November 2022 and will replace the Health Professions Act.
The HPOA came out of a significant report conducted by Harry Cayton, an expert in the field of health profession regulation, and is more person-centric in its approach to health regulation through increased accountability and transparency for all British Columbians. It also embeds a proactive focus on eliminating Indigenous-specific racism and all forms of discrimination within the province’s health regulatory framework. We look forward to continuing to work with the Ministry of Health, other health regulators and the public to usher in a new era of health profession regulation.
The year ahead promises to be full of impactful change and progress for the regulation of pharmacy practice in British Columbia, and we look forward to sharing additional updates in the coming months.