Registrar’s Message: Always a Professional
The College has received a number of inquiries about when our registrants are free from their responsibilities as pharmacy professionals. This seems like an odd question, but it’s come up more than once and in a number of different contexts.
The short answer is, never. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are professionals, and as professionals, are always held by society, to a higher standard than the general public. Being a professional is more than having a job.
Our professional obligations don’t end when our shifts do, nor can we suspend our professional status and responsibilities when it’s convenient. As a Health Professional we are always accountable to the public, and with that, responsible for meeting the requirements under the Health Professions Act, Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act and College’s bylaws to protect public safety.
Pharmacy professionals should always act in the best interests of their patients and the public at large. How we act is not only a reflection of them as individuals, but of the profession as a whole.
I thought about a couple of situations to illustrate the scope of our professional responsibilities both on and off duty.
Years ago, there was disciplinary case concerning a pharmacist who was admitted to the emergency department in a cocaine induced psychosis. Even though the registrant was “off duty,” because pharmacists are entrusted with access to narcotic and controlled drugs, the Discipline Committee viewed his illicit use of a highly addictive drug as a breach of public trust and an abandonment of his professional integrity.
“We view the maintenance of integrity as being an essential ingredient of a profession. A pharmacist who demonstrates a lack of integrity must realize that his peers are also in a position to be harmed by a loss of public trust in the profession as a whole, because of his actions.”
– Discipline Committee
The committee ultimately suspended the registrant’s license for 12 months.
Another example came from a question we received regarding the professional liability of registered Pharmacy Technicians while on duty.
“We currently have licensed pharmacy technicians working as pharmacy assistants working in a pharmacy assistants’ capacity, where they are often required to perform assistant-check-assistant tasks. Are pharmacy technicians liable for mistakes made while performing assistant-check-assistant tasks because they are registered with the College?”
The answer is yes, pharmacy technicians are responsible and liable for all their actions even if they are working as a pharmacy assistant within a Health Authority or Community Pharmacy. Regardless of job title or role, a registered pharmacy technician or pharmacist must meet their professional obligations.
Being a professional is a never ending responsibility. We are always accountable for our actions, no matter the time or day of the week. Our licenses can’t be turned off, and as such, we are held to a higher level of accountability by both society and our profession. Our individual actions must uphold both the integrity and expectations for pharmacy professionals in society. Always.
Registrar, College of Pharmacists of BC