If you live in Alberta, you’ve probably seen the ads urging you to “know your options”. Many people still think that emergency departments are the best place to get health care, but there are actually many other providers and resources that can provide you with guidance and the most appropriate care. One of the options is your pharmacist! Similar to the Alberta Health Services “know your options” campaign, in an earlier post, I discussed the importance of choosing a personal pharmacist. Today, I will show you how to search for a pharmacist using the Alberta College of Pharmacists search tool. This search function can help you identify individual pharmacists, their disciplinary records (if any) and their practice authorizations. Since healthcare is regulated provincially in Canada, the steps for finding a pharmacist is a slightly different province-to-province. Start by locating the website for your provincial regulatory body for pharmacists.
Starting your search
Locate the search box located under the text “I am looking for a”. The Alberta College of Pharmacists website allows you to search for a regulated pharmacist, pharmacy, or pharmacy technician. For our purposes we’ll select “pharmacist”.
Focus your search
Next, you will see an enlarged search box. The tool allows you to select parameters. In this example, I will search for a pharmacist in Edmonton, Alberta. By simply selecting Edmonton as the city, the search results return 236 pages, with each page containing 5 results. This gives us approximately 1,165 pharmacists in Edmonton! Many of these pharmacists work in hospital settings or do not work in direct patient care. One of the drawbacks of this search tool is you cannot specify additional parameters to narrow your search. It will let you input a postal code but cannot search by proximity. Next, search for pharmacists who have advanced their individual scopes of practice. For the most narrow search, check the boxes “Additional Prescribing Authorization” and “Administer Drugs By Injection”. By narrowing your options we come up with approximately 200 pharmacists, many of whom are likely clinical pharmacists. Still, 200 pharmacists is quite a long list so take this information, to cross-reference in the next step.
Search by pharmacy
To narrow down the list, the next step is to search by pharmacy. When I search for all the pharmacies in Edmonton, the result is 295 pharmacies, which includes some inpatient hospital pharmacies. The pharmacy search provides the pharmacy manager name, and the pharmacy address with a corresponding link to Google Maps. If you have a short list of pharmacies, you can then cross-reference the pharmacy postal code and use it in the pharmacist search to see all of the pharmacists registered at a particular pharmacy. Let’s use Wal-Mart Pharmacy #1122 as an example. Copy the postal code and return to the pharmacist search. You now see that there are seven pharmacists working at this pharmacy, all whom can administer drugs by injection, three of whom have additional prescribing authorization, and none of whom have any past or upcoming disciplinary hearings. If these options are acceptable to you, you could then choose one pharmacist at Wal-Mart Pharmacy #1122. Despite its limitations, the Alberta College of Pharmacists search tool can help you identify a pharmacist who can meet your personal needs. It is vitally important that you get to know a pharmacist, so that they can provide tailored advice and medication recommendations. Need help finding a clinical pharmacist? Leave a comment at the end of this post or send me an email.