The CPST program at the Royal Columbian Hospital was established in 2006 to assist clinical pharmacists providing direct patient care services in the general medicine/surgery units and in the ICU. At the time this article was prepared, the job description for a CPST included the following activities: obtaining, organizing, and distributing patient profiles, related material, and support documentation for review by the clinical pharmacy specialist; assisting with the retrieval of drug infor­mation; evaluating drug utilization; printing reports; providing discharge counselling; and assisting with various projects. The CPSTs continued to be scheduled for traditional drug-distribution rotations in the central dispensary to ensure that they main­tained their skills in this area of practice.

The training of CPSTs was supervised by ward-based pharmacists, the clinical pharmacy practice leader, and previ­ously trained technicians involved in the program. Training activities included shadowing ward-based pharmacists, includ­ing attending multidisciplinary rounds; guided activities, such as data collection; group discussions; and quality assurance measures. Each trainee received an overview of the variety of information sources available, such as patients’ medical records, the computer system, and monitoring forms. In addition, detailed protocols and procedures have been set up to help the CPST perform each activity with consistency, according to expected competencies. Monthly meetings were used to help the technicians to upgrade their skills, as well as for continuing education and quality assurance.
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At the time this article was prepared, in mid-2009, 4 CPSTs were involved in the program, providing service from Monday to Friday on a 4-week rotation. The rotation consisted of 1 week of clinical support on the general medicine/surgery floor, 1 week of clinical support in the ICU, and 2 weeks of traditional drug-distribution activities in the dispensary of the central pharmacy.