The role of professional associations in pharmacy – world practice
Given the number of responsibilities that each of us has to perform daily, joining a professional association is unlikely to be one of the top priorities. After all, who, in the end, has time for additional meetings and activities, in addition to those associated with the main place of employment? Not to mention the fact that participation in such organizations is often far from being free. However, despite all rational parts of the previous statements, this type of thinking prevents the development and formation of a full-fledged specialist in their industry. After all, vocational training does not end with obtaining a diploma at a university, but rather, only begins from this moment. In the conditions of rapid technological, scientific and material progress, the timely transfer and acquisition of knowledge, continuous personal and professional development, as well as established interprofessional communication are the key to successful work. It is in this matter that professional associations come to the rescue.
Most of them, as a rule, are charitable or non-profit organizations that seek to increase the importance of a particular profession and their members. Some organizations exist for standardization, unification, quality control, promotion of research, continuing education, as well as updating the skills of practicing specialists. The crucial role of others is to control the issuance of professional qualification certificates and even practice licenses. Moreover, all of them are called upon to improve the quality of specialists, to promote their professional and personal growth, to defend and protect their interests and to develop the industry as a whole. An analysis of professional pharmaceutical associations in Canada begins a series of publications on the role of such organizations in the healthcare structure of various developed regions and their significance for the pharmaceutical community as a whole and each pharmacist in particular.
What is a professional association?
A professional association is an organization that brings people together with special professional qualifications who work in the same or similar fields. The purpose of its creation is to promote the professional development of participants through an organization, provide information support, ensure the right to engage in a certain type of activity, help in finding employment, create favorable conditions for work, fight for a decent salary level, protect the rights of specialists, represent their interests, etc. According to the experience of pharmacists and Canadian pharmacy technicians, this kind of work environment creates a sense of stronger motivation which spills into better customer care services.
This type of organization is characterized by a number of distinguishing features, for example, financing ones. It in most cases comes from internal sources, in particular through regular contributions from participants. In this regard, the share of private (charitable or state) capital is practically zero. They also operate on the basis of the rules and standards of professional activity, which are required to comply with all members of the organization. This feature underlines the clear professional specialization of any such organization and brings its participants together due to the industry focus of their activities.
The creation of professional associations is favorable from the point of view of public interests, as these associations develop the rules of professional activity and principles of professional ethics ensuring the maintenance of a certain standard of quality of services. It seems possible to assume that in countries with a developed nonprofit sector that creates a fairly high level of employment and has important public importance, as in Canada, professional associations will also be significantly developed.
The main advantages of participating in a professional organization
Although each organization has its own characteristics, most associations offer some of the following common benefits.
- Networking features
It is well known that networking is key for community movers and shakers. It is not in vain that they say that meeting is sometimes much more expensive than money. Getting new contacts is crucial for successful professional activities and growth. And participation in associations provides countless opportunities for connection both locally and globally.
So, joining a professional association, a specialist at Canadian Pharmacy can expand existing business relationships and find new contacts. It is also possible to establish strong ties with other professionals in the field who have common interests or similar problems that can share their experiences. These relationships are mainly a constant source of ideas and inspiration, and also help to organize business and solve existing problems.
- Professional development
Occupations, such as pharmaceutical or medical, require accreditation and continuing education to maintain a license. Professional associations often offer continuing education courses for free or at a subsidized fee to their members and work to establish the recognition of continuing education licenses by the licensing board.
Newsletters and magazines published by an association enable participants to improve their communication skills and learn about achievements in the professional field. Access to research materials and innovations in industry, participation in online courses, trainings, seminars and conferences is another reason for joining professional associations.
- Exclusive online resources
The websites of most professional organizations have a members-only section, which provides access to various message boards and databases. There are also special subscriptions that notify participants by e-mail (or via another type of newsletter) about all special events and upcoming events that are usually not open to a wide audience.
Graduates who have just graduated from university and have no practical experience so far can find professional organizations extremely useful. So, an active position in this one can help find a suitable internship or even a new job. In addition, expanding the circle of contacts, which is possible through participation in the organization, allows finding potential jobs for those who are already employed, but are looking for other potential options.
Also, for those who work and do not plan to change anything in the near future, a professional association may provide an opportunity to “upgrade” their resume. For example, having gained experience in organizing or conducting an event, taking a leading position in an association, or publishing articles in an organization’s journal.
- Support systems
Members of a professional organization can use formal coaching or mentoring relationships with experienced industry professionals to get advice or the necessary advice for solving particular problems. Even on an informal basis, these contacts are often a valuable source of information and decisions when a person is faced with a difficult business situation. In addition, the feeling that there is always a professional support system will increase the confidence of a member of the organization and give strength to solve the problem. Some associations also have special scholarships, foundations, and awards that help develop professional skills, conduct research, and encourage professionals to become better.
- Leaders and mentors
Professional associations provide an opportunity to develop leadership skills, which is important not only for personal but also for career growth. In addition, an association provides an opportunity to learn. Giving back the role of a mentor can be the biggest reward and benefit.
- Political influence
Large professional organizations at the national level usually have committees that monitor federal and state legislative changes related to their particular industry and business. Such organizations have more pronounced political influence than individual members. By joining such an organization, a participant can get the opportunity to use the political influence and resources of the group for their own purposes.
- Special benefits, discounts and insurance
The main advantage of professional membership is the ability to arrange various types of insurance. In Canada, health insurance is affordable for entrepreneurs. But professional membership is still one of the easiest ways to use some types of insurance. This includes life insurance and even car insurance.
Sometimes in Canada, you can even get liability insurance through a professional organization. Thus, especially large professional organizations can also offer special types of insurance that cannot be obtained independently. In addition, membership in a professional association can provide certain advantages in some institutions, for example, in gyms, shops, pharmacies, hotels, etc.
What do we know about CIPA?
The Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA – https://www.cipa.com) is an organization uniting licensed retail drug stores that trade in pharmaceuticals and supportive care meds (except for controlled substances) for personal use to the citizens of the United States and Canada from Canadian pharmacies. Moreover, the members of this association establish business relationships with licensed global drug stores and authorized by state dispensing areas shipping medicines directly to customers from their location. Being CIPA members, Canadian Pharmacy ensures identical quality control and comfort of transportation, providing patients with brand-name pharmaceuticals delivered to their premises.
CIPA is one of the leading associations evaluating accreditation certificates of Canadian pharmacies selling drugs on the Internet. To become a member of CIPA, a pharmacy must be licensed and regulated by the government, require prescription, and display a company address and phone number details on their website. The CIPA seal is a direct indication of a reliable quality proof for Rx drugs.
CIPA often appeared on the news as a lawyer for safe online pharmacy practices and lower drug prices available outside the United States. CIPA standards and practices have been described as likely to become an important part of the healthcare system in the near future. In 2009, CIPA was invited to present at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum on “Medicines on the Internet — Risks and Benefits”. In February 2010, CIPA was chosen by Google to be its official tester of advertising pharmacies in Canada. The association was also selected as the Canadian control authority for Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! Internet pharmacy advertising.
Also, CIPA announced that it was ready to consult with the government committee on the implementation of government drug policies. In 2017, the proportion of uninsured Canadians was 5,3%, with most of them having no access to prescription drugs. As of January 1, 2018, their number decreased to 1,9 %. According to the executive director of the association, the successful implementation of the drug supply program should expand access to medicines for all patients without restrictions, which requires consultation at the state level. During the consultations, including, it was planned to discuss the issue of accessibility of a number of vaccines, the possibility of vaccination in a pharmacy, and optimization of primary care. Within the 2019 budget, the government was taking effective steps to address the drug supply of all Canadians.
Below we list a few trusted pharmacies certified by CIPA – a guarantee of realiability that takes the guesswork out of the equation for you:
The full Canadian Pharmacy stores list is here: https://www.cipa.com/certified-safe-online-pharmacies/.