The Pharmacy Technician Qualifying Examination blueprint is based on NAPRA’s 2014 Professional Competencies for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians at Entry to Practice. The exam blueprint informs candidates about what the exam will test and guides PEBC to design exams that are comparable from one examination administration to the next, giving all candidates equal opportunity to show whether or not they possess the competencies that are necessary to practise pharmacy safely and effectively in Canada. Therefore, all candidates should review this blueprint thoroughly and determine whether or not they are ready to practise as a registered pharmacy technician or if they need more preparation or experience in any competency area before taking the Qualifying Examination.
Competencies are defined as significant job-related knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and judgments required for competent performance (i.e., safe and effective practice). They provide an overview of what a pharmacy technician must be able to do at entry to practice, without supervision, when the need arises. Standards of practice describe ”good practice”, providing some detail about how to perform many of the tasks required to provide safe and effective pharmacy services. The national standards of practice are outlined in NAPRA’s Model Standards of Practice for Canadian Pharmacy Technicians. To meet these standards, pharmacy technicians need to have and apply the competencies described. To be certified by PEBC and registered as a pharmacy technician, candidates are required to demonstrate that they have these competencies, by successfully completing the Qualifying Examination.
Qualifying Examination questions in Part I (MCQ) and station tasks in Part II (OSPE) are linked to these national competencies. The proportion of the overall Qualifying Examination that focuses on the nine major competencies is shown in the column on the right as a percentage (%). These percentages indicate how much of the Qualifying Examination (both Parts combined) is focused on each competency. This also indicates the relative importance of each competency in the exam results and final certification decisions. When both Parts assess the same competency, they will often assess different aspects or elements of the competency. The check marks in the columns on the left indicate whether the competency element is tested in one or both Parts of the exam. “Product Distribution” has the highest overall weighting and the highest weighting in each Part (MCQ and OSPE). This reflects the paramount importance of this competency for pharmacy technicians to support the achievement of best possible patient outcomes.
A double check mark beside the key competency element in each section indicates that the competency has a higher weighting in one Part of the exam than in the other Part. For example, “Product Distribution” and “Practice Setting” have higher weightings in Part I (MCQ) than in Part II (OSPE), whereas “Communication and Education” and “Intra- and Inter-Professional Collaboration” are more highly weighted in Part II (OSPE) than in Part I (MCQ).
The role of the pharmacy technician in the Canadian health care system has evolved significantly over the past several years. The introduction of the regulation of pharmacy technicians in various provinces has served to expand their scope of practice. This has required that pharmacy technicians’ requisite knowledge and skills at entry to practice to evolve also, in order to fulfill this expanded scope and meet patients’ needs.
The competencies for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are closely aligned, with each group taking responsibility for their respective roles while working collaboratively. Pharmacists are primarily responsible for drug therapy advice and decision-making, focusing on the clinical aspects of patient care. Pharmacy technicians are primarily responsible for the technical functions and for referring patients to the pharmacist for drug therapy advice.
Although some aspects of the scope of practice of the Canadian pharmacy technician may differ among jurisdictions and workplaces, the core competencies expected of pharmacy technicians at entry to practice are the same. In all settings, when providing patient care, the pharmacy technician works in collaboration with the pharmacist, patient and other health care professionals in order to achieve the best possible health outcomes for the patient.