It is an honour to serve as President for a second term, and I want to express my gratitude to the members of Council for their continued support as we move forward with the important work of enhancing and strengthening our approach to regulation in the public interest.
As 2019 draws to a close, we can be proud of how far we have come, from implementing the AIMS Program to launching the first set of quality indicators for pharmacy. It’s also an opportunity to renew our commitment to better serve the public in the year ahead.
We can never forget that our role as a regulator is a privilege granted to our profession with the understanding that it will be used in service of the public. As a regulator, we are entrusted to protect and serve the public, and if we are to maintain that trust, we must continuously evaluate what we can do better to fulfill our mandate as societal expectations evolve and as the role of pharmacy in providing quality and safe care within a transforming healthcare landscape continues to expand.
Governance renewal is a critical component in strengthening the public’s trust. By enhancing transparency and accountability in our decision making, we are joining a growing number of regulators who are modernizing their approaches to better serve the public, such as a competency-based selection of Council members and ensuring the right balance of public and professional members at the table. An update on this work is included in this issue of Pharmacy Connection.
We can also make better decisions by addressing cultural inequities. We have committed to cultivating Indigenous cultural competency among Council members, College staff and registrants, and to looking at ways that we can work collaboratively with Indigenous communities to address disparities in health care. You will hear more about the College’s overall commitment to act and strategies to promote Indigenous cultural competency over the coming months. As a first step, every Council meeting will be introduced with a land acknowledgment to remind us of our role in the reconciliation process.
There are other opportunities for further teaching, coaching and collaboration. Earlier this year, the College released a data snapshot of opioid dispensing in Ontario to provide an overall look at dispensing patterns in community pharmacies as part of our commitment to our Opioid Strategy.
This is a resource that can help pharmacy professionals evaluate and enhance their own practice as medication experts. It also helps the College identify areas where we can work with registrants with a shared goal of preventing opioid-related harms, and to better understand the role of pharmacy in helping to reduce the human and societal impact associated with the opioid crisis in our communities. Additionally, the snapshot helps to emphasize that we, as pharmacy professionals, always need to look for opportunities to collaborate with prescribers and patients to deliver the best care.
There is an important development coming in 2020 that will also challenge us to consider what more we can do as pharmacy professionals to improve health outcomes: expanding scope of practice. Patients and our health care system can benefit from optimizing the knowledge and skills of pharmacists, while also ensuring the delivery of safe, high-quality care.
We heard from many registrants during the first phase of our work on scope of practice, who provided valuable input during the development of the draft regulatory amendments as well as the 60-day open public consultation. This feedback helped the College identify important themes and issues that will need to be addressed as scope expands. We will continue to engage pharmacy professionals and support them as they prepare for and adapt to these changes.
The first set of draft regulatory amendments related to expanded scope, which includes administering the flu vaccine to younger children and renewing prescriptions for up to a year, has been submitted to the provincial government for consideration. The College is now developing a new set of regulation changes to enable pharmacists to prescribe for minor ailments. Registrants will have an opportunity to provide their preliminary feedback in the very near future. Your expertise, experience and input is key to developing the regulatory amendments that enable these important practice changes while ensuring patient safety and the provision of high quality pharmacy care that the public can continue to trust.
There’s much to do in 2020 – another busy year of working together to reach new milestones. We look forward to hearing from you as we move forward.