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So, you want to make a difference in the healthcare industry by becoming a pharmacy assistant. Great!
Pharmacy Assistants have a huge impact on the day-to-day running of a pharmacy, as well as the lives and experiences of their colleagues and patients.
Launching this career path as an essential member of the pharmacy team gives you the opportunity to work closely with patients and make a difference in the lives of others while earning a stable income and progressing your career.
There are specific factors that play a crucial role when looking to succeed as a pharmacy assistant and grow your career within the sought-after and rewarding healthcare industry.
In this article we will discuss these factors, including how pharmacy assistants can enhance and develop their problem-solving skills and become equipped at dealing with workplace challenges.
We will also discuss how these essential skills can be developed during your training to become a Pharmacy Assistant.
What are the Common Job Duties of a Pharmacy Assistant?
The role of a pharmacy assistant is busy and includes working in a fast-paced and exciting daily environment. There are several duties and responsibilities that they take on, as a key member of the pharmacy team, which help to keep the pharmacy running smoothly.
One of the duties of a pharmacy assistant is recognizing issues that may occur and providing timely and effective solutions to counter and resolve these hiccups.
Here are three examples of potential workplace challenges that a pharmacy assistant should be ready to identify, plus the solutions they can implement.
Avoiding Prescription Errors
Patient safety is one of the most serious duties that a pharmacy assistant performs in their day-to-day responsibilities. Consuming medication that is the wrong type, wrong amount, or at the wrong frequency may have serious health repercussions for patients. Therefore, a pharmacy assistant should prioritize drug safety protocols.
A pharmacy assistant must pay very close attention to certain points of the prescription drug delivery process, including:
- Prescription Labelling
- Dosage Measurement
- Communication of intake instruction
It is important for a pharmacy assistant to clearly communicate the relevant information about the medication from the pharmacist to the patient. They must also be prepared to reliably and accurately relay any questions or concerns raised by patients to the pharmacist.
Maintaining a Smooth-Flowing Inventory
When people get sick, have accidents, or otherwise have a need for medication, they go to a pharmacy to fill their prescription and begin their road to comfort and recovery.
This means that pharmacy operations are sustained by dispensing medication to patients. It is therefore crucial to maintain an effective medication stock management system and an accurate inventory.
Patients visit a pharmacy to request different varieties of prescription drugs and, due to the volume of customers and the rotating shifts of the pharmacy team, it can be challenging to manually track and update medication inventory if a pharmacy assistant is not organized and prepared.
A great solution for maintaining an up-to-date inventory is to draw on organizational skills and strategies that increase efficiency and help minimize errors with inventory information. This could mean implementing new record-keeping practices or familiarizing yourself with the software being used in the pharmacy.
Interacting with Different Patient Personalities
Providing exceptional customer service is integral to the duties of a pharmacy assistant. A typical customer interaction in pharmacy happens when a patient is dropping off or picking up their prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication. It is important to note that when this interaction takes place, a patient may be in great stress or pain because of the ailment they are suffering from.
A pharmacy assistant should be prepared to recognize this and be able to respond empathetically towards customers who may need help managing their stress or pain levels. Exceptional customer service means pharmacy assistants can remain levelheaded and help to deescalate a patient’s emotions while reassuring them in a friendly manner.
Demonstrating tactful communication and resourceful problem-solving skills can provide an already stressed-out customer with a positive pharmacy experience.
Essential Problem-Solving Skills for Pharmacy Assistants
Pharmacy Assistants should possess certain skills that are essential to their role – you can read more about these skills in our article, ‘Essential Skills of a Pharmacy Assistant’. The combination of soft and practical skills with technical knowledge help provide excellent customer service while staying on top of administrative duties and the pharmacy’s prescription drug inventory:
Clear Communication Skills with Patients, Pharmacists, and Associates
Communication is a large part of the pharmacy assistant role. They have daily interactions with pharmacists, patients, and other members of the pharmacy team, as well as regular communication with medical clinics, insurance claims providers, and inventory suppliers.
This constant interaction requires them to always communicate clearly and in different mediums, whether it be in-person interactions, phone calls, or emails. Clear communication allows a pharmacy assistant to implement an efficient workflow, saving time and avoiding confusion by giving concise and accurate information
Empathy and Understanding for Patients
In addition to demonstrating clear communication with work colleagues, a pharmacy assistant must also demonstrate good interpersonal skills when interacting with patients and customers.
As we discussed earlier in this article, interacting with customers empathetically is always recommended and is a skill that is essential for a pharmacy assistant. By understanding that customers may be in pain or great stress, a pharmacy assistant should be able to shift their mindset and respond compassionately, allowing customers to be served in a helpful, patient, and empathic manner.
Organization Skills when Managing Prescriptions and Patients
Organization is a must-have skill for a pharmacy assistant due to the busy nature of their role, dealing daily with numerous customers, prescriptions, and inventory.
A pharmacy assistant needs to be able to keep a cool head in this fast-paced environment, address customers, manage inventory, and handle a hefty workload, all while bearing in mind time constraints and priority tasks.
Apply Technical Skills When Handling Medication
When it comes to medication, there are specific pharmacy education requirements that a pharmacy assistant needs to be aware of to perform their tasks accurately and safely. They must have a strong baseline knowledge of human physiology, pharmacology, dosage calculations, and pharmacy regulations. Becoming proficient in these areas by graduating with a pharmacy assistant diploma can greatly increase the ability of a pharmacy assistant to help pharmacists with their processes for prescriptions and inventory.
How to Develop Essential Pharmacy Assistant Skills
By learning about the must-have pharmaceutical assistant skills, you may come to realize that you already possess some of them – perhaps you consider yourself a patient, understanding, and organized individual by nature, or maybe you have worked hard in your current position to develop your organizational skills. You can continue to develop and enhance these current skills, as well as gaining new and effective skills, by enrolling in education courses and taking part in practicums to gain hands-on industry experience and ultimately make the switch to rewarding career.
Enrolling in a diploma program that is fast-tracked allows you to gain new knowledge through a focused theory-based class and implement it through practical work experience. This combination provides a clear pathway that quickly prepares students for the role of pharmacy assistant.
Sundance College’s diploma program, for example, can help transform someone with no prior knowledge or experience into a job-ready pharmacy assistant candidate in less than a year.
Start Your Pharmacy Assistant Journey with Sundance College
Through Sundance College’s Pharmacy Assistant diploma program, you can gain the education and training you need to help you address situations you may regularly face in your new role, including the ones cited in this article, and thrive in your new environment.
We have designed our diploma program to be accessible for people juggling their current jobs and commitments, making it easier to set yourself up for success. Choose between an in-person or online class delivery, take advantage of the small class sizes and easy access to your experienced industry instructor for academic assistance, and gain real-world working experience with our built-in 5-week practicum program.
Pharmacy Assistant graduate, Alyssa C., shares her thoughts on the accessibility of the program, “I found out that I can go [to Sundance College] online so I was able to work full time and finish my studies, which was nice and super accommodating.”
The Pharmacy Assistant program can be completed in about a year, preparing students for a great career ahead. Reach out to one of our academic advisors and discover how you can start your pharmacy assistant career path with Sundance College.