A practice assessment is an evaluation of an individual pharmacist’s or pharmacy technician’s performance. The practice assessment occurs in the place of practice with a College practice advisor. Practice assessments are separate from a pharmacy assessment, though they may take place during the same visit. Currently, the College is only conducting practice assessments for pharmacists in community practice. Practice assessments for pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in non-community settings are under development.
The practice assessments support the role of pharmacists as medication experts and clinical decision-makers, and are consistent in approach to assessments of other primary healthcare practitioners.
The practice assessments are a critical component of quality assurance. The transition to assessments at the individual’s place of practice reflects evolving public and patient expectations that the College regularly engages with pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to ensure that safe and appropriate patient care is being provided.
Ultimately, quality assurance activities are designed to help pharmacy professionals identify areas for improvement in their practice so that they can develop, maintain and enhance their skills and knowledge to support better patient health outcomes.
What Happens During a Practice Assessment?
During a practice assessment, practice advisors use the practice assessment criteria to evaluate a member’s practice. Through a combination of observation and retrospective review of documentation (chart stimulated recall) practice advisors evaluate the processes in place for each of these areas with respect to new and refill prescriptions, adaptations/ renewals, comprehensive medication reviews and patient interactions related to over the counter medications.
Throughout and following the assessment, the practice advisor provides feedback outlining areas of practice where the pharmacy professional is doing well and meeting standards as well as areas where there is an opportunity for improvement. They offer support through coaching and conversation, pointing out opportunities to enhance practice, probing the thinking behind certain actions and decisions, and indicating where to access helpful resources.
If the pharmacy professional does not meet the standards indicated on their first assessment, they are given the opportunity to spend time with a quality assurance (QA) coach. This coach is not a College staff member, but rather a peer pharmacist who can provide support specifically in areas where there is room for improvement. This half-day interactive session is designed to enhance the professional’s practice and the care that is provided to patients. Following the session with the QA coach, the pharmacy professional will be reassessed by another practice advisor.
If there are still significant areas of practice that require improvement following this second assessment, a QA assessment will take place and the results will be sent to the QA Committee for consideration. The QA Committee may provide recommendations to help the professional meet standards by identifying appropriate remediation, always recognizing that patient safety is the first priority.
With an emphasis on education, the goal of the practice assessments is to increase adherence to practice standards, help pharmacy professionals practice to their full scope, and ultimately support optimal health outcomes. The results of a practice assessment are confidential and are not shared with employers, owners, colleagues or any College committee, other than the QA Committee.