Pharmacy Student Experience at NAPRA

Joseph McGraw

My name is Joseph McGraw and I am a 5th year pharmacy student at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador. From October to December 2021, I had the pleasure of working with the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) for one of my non-direct patient care Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE). As stated on its website, “[NAPRA] is an alliance of the provincial and territorial pharmacy regulatory authorities as well as the Canadian Forces Pharmacy Services.  […] The association provides a platform for its members to discuss issues and to take a national approach in addressing common issues in the practice of pharmacy in Canada.” 

What did you do while on rotation at NAPRA? 

I had the opportunity to work with NAPRA’s Pharmacy Practice Advisor and NAPRA’s Manager, Professional and Regulatory Affairs, as my preceptors in the Professional and Regulatory Affairs department. I am so thankful to have had them as they ensured my time with NAPRA was filled with experiences to learn from. For instance, two big projects I was able to take part in were helping to update the Scope of Practice chart for both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and preparations for a National Drug Scheduling Advisory Committee (NDSAC) meeting. For the Scope of Practice chart, I collated the feedback sent in from the pharmacy regulatory authorities across the country. After the information is compiled into one large document, the chart will show what activities pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are able to perform in their specific province or territory. For the NDSAC meeting, I helped to summarize the information provided in the submission and references and discussed my own thoughts on the submission’s scheduling factors. 

On top of these projects, I was able to meet with and learn from the teams that manage NAPRA’s Pharmacists Gateway Canada and the Pilot Program to Prepare for Practical Training (P4T). I also attended various meetings throughout my rotation to get a glimpse at what happens behind the scenes for pharmacy regulation. I was able to attend meetings with Health Canada, pharmacy regulatory authorities and working groups and got to see how NAPRA provides the platform to discuss and address common issues happening in the practice of pharmacy relevant to pharmacy regulation. Through these activities I was able to get a better grasp of my profession’s scope of practice and how certain provinces/territories may differ in their scope. I now understand the process of how medications are scheduled and the vigorous steps that go into determining a Schedule II/III/Unscheduled drug. Lastly, I was able to see what happens when discussing common issues occurring in the practice of pharmacy across Canada from the regulatory point of view. 

Would you recommend doing a rotation with NAPRA?

Absolutely. On top of getting an inside look at something that cannot thoroughly be taught in a lecture, you get to work with the NAPRA team. They made sure to welcome me in and made me feel as though I was a part of their team immediately. This environment is one that fosters learning and allows a student to thrive. There is plenty of work to be done while at NAPRA and this, coupled with excellent preceptors, makes the experience worthwhile.  

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