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COVID-19: Bringing the ‘Invisible Layer’ of Pharmacists Professional Identity and Roles to Light (IGNITE)

Pharmacists are essential frontline heroes who have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic since day one. They have continually stepped up and provided the highest quality of care to their patients during extremely challenging times.
To explore the subjectivity of professional identity from the pharmacists’ experiences and point of view and specifically how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted it, as it is theorized that COVID-19 is the catalyst for sustainable pharmacy practice change due to it’s global reach and prolonged nature.
This study has the potential to uncover the ‘invisible layer’ of change that has occurred in pharmacists’ roles and identity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and confirm the theory that the roles professionals perform influence their professional identity. This work will help to understand the development (and sustainability) of professional identity in pharmacists.  We hope this will lead to new methods of practice change management to improve patient care by pharmacists. To our knowledge this is the first study to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the evolution of pharmacists’ professional roles and identity. It will be the first to identify the conceptualizations of professional roles which are espoused by practitioners during the pandemic and how they compare with the literature.
Aims and objective: 
This study aims to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pharmacists’ professional roles and identity and answer the following research questions.
  • How do pharmacists describe their professional roles and identity pre-COVID-19?
  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced pharmacists’ roles and their professional identity (what they do and what it means to them)?
  • Which aspects of pharmacists’ roles and professional identity changes, if any, they project to be sustained post-COVID-19?
We will use innovative methods to evaluate pharmacists’ professional roles and identity as the traditional methods have yielded the same results over time. Such method will combine photo-elicitation, photo-voice, with open-ended questions about their demographics, their professional roles and identity, and if there has been any impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on their professional identity in a qualitative interview.
Population: Frontline community pharmacists who are providing direct patient care in Alberta will be eligible to take part.
Individual pharmacists will be invited to participate. Those who are interested will be contacted to arrange for a virtual interview. All interested pharmacists will be asked to prepare 3-5 photos that represent what they currently do as a pharmacist and what these roles mean to them before the interview
Data collection: Data will be collected using a virtual face-to-face interview. Verbal consent to take part will be obtained before starting the interview which will take 30-45 minutes. There are 4 steps to the interview, (1) demographics, (2) photo-voice exercise, (3) photo-elicitation exercise, and (4) semi-structured interview questions.
Data analysis:
The data will be analyzed inductively using qualitative content analysis. Two researchers will independently code the first interview and meet to develop a master codebook, which will be used for subsequent interviews. The codes will be categorized using Pattern coding into groups and abstract themes and/or theory will be developed. Data analysis and data collection will be done concurrently. Data collection will continue until thematic saturation is achieved (typically occurs after 18-25 interviews).
Thank you to the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy for their generous support.
If you have any questions or require more information about the study, please contact:
Dr. Yazid Al Hamarneh Yazid.Alhamarneh@ualberta.ca
Dr. Kaitlyn Watson kewatson@ualberta.ca