The past year's challenges have been unprecedented and increased workload and pressure for many employees, no matter the sector.
Pharmacies have responded by giving more flu shots than ever and remaining committed to offering accessible healthcare.
This month is Pharmacy Appreciation Month, promoted by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, which focuses on "appreciation" rather than "awareness" to reflect the vital role pharmacies have played during the pandemic.
Expanded scope of practice
Kayla Amaral graduated from Humber College's Pharmacy Technician program during the pandemic last summer.
Despite uncertain times, Amaral felt good about her career prospects.
"I felt confident in the skills I had gained throughout the course of the program to go out and find my desired field of the pharmacy profession," she said.
Amaral's role is ever evolving to respond to patient needs.
"In the short time since I graduated, the scope of practice for technicians has expanded to allow technicians to administer injections, like vaccines," she said.
She pivots as needed and credits Humber's experienced professors and focus on practical experience – plus her hard work - for her ability to adapt.
"Humber is a pioneer"
Pharmacist David Windross is the Chair of the Pharmacy Technician Program Advisory Committee which provides feedback to College concerning curriculum and provides direction on various pharmacy-related matters. The Committee includes other pharmacy professionals, alumni and Humber faculty.
The group is constantly reviewing and recommending changes to ensure the various courses meet accreditation standards and the pharmacy sector's needs.
"Humber is a pioneer in the provision of formal pharmacy technician training and has a reputation of excellent programming and teaching," he said.
"Graduates are in step with the requirements of pharmacy practice, particularly the professional aspects of pharmacy in terms of medication dispensing as well as understanding the business side of pharmacy."
Windross notes that good pharmacy technicians understand their role in dispensing medications and that accurate work is paramount. They must also know their limitations when answering patient questions and when to involve the pharmacist to answer a patient’s question.
"The role is critical to the success of expanding the role of the pharmacy team in a patient's medication care," he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the public to see the importance of pharmacy professionals in the healthcare system. By stepping up to the challenge of assisting in testing and vaccination programs, pharmacy technicians are demonstrating that they are needed now more than ever.