MA Research Paper

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Sociology

Supervisor

Dr. Tracey L Adams

Abstract

Pharmacists across Ontario have recently had their scope of practice expanded. Among the new responsibilities are Medscheck programs, vaccine administering, ordering lab tests, and the renewal of prescriptions before authorization from physicians. Further expansions such as prescribing for minor ailments are currently being explored. Both scope of practice changes (those implemented and those being discussed) re-structure healthcare divisions of labour. In doing so, they lead to a situation where pharmacists’ scope of practice increasingly overlaps with part of medical doctors’ and nurses’ jurisdictions. Historically, there has been considerable interprofessional conflict between medicine and pharmacy that has limited pharmacists’ scope of practice. Do these recent changes mean that interprofessional conflict is less relevant within the system of professions? Do they suggest a new era of healthcare professional collaboration and co-operation? Or do they suggest the system of professions is changing in fundamental ways? This research will seek answers to these questions through a content analysis of documents such as the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) 2008 Interim Report to identify the contexts and rationales shaping these scope of practice changes. Findings reveal that other professions are supportive but hesitant to expand the scope of practice of pharmacists.
To conclude, current research is missing the investigation of the impact of an increased scope of practice of pharmacists on the profession itself. This research will be of interest both to sociologists and to pharmacists. It will help us begin to understand both the benefits and consequences of an increased scope of practice in the profession.

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