Table of Contents:
Why Are Pharmacy Assistants in Demand?
5 Reasons to Choose Pharmacy Assistant as a Career
Reason 1: Quick Entry Into Healthcare Career
Reason 2: Secure and Recession-Proof Job
Reason 3: Meaningful and Fulfilling Work
You make a difference! Working as a pharmacy assistant offers you the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people's lives every day. You will:
- Assist pharmacists with medication dispensing
- Help patients understand their medications
- Process health-related queries
- Offer compassionate care, and more
Doing all these tasks that directly impact patients' well-being and contribute to their overall health outcomes can be incredibly fulfilling and gratifying.
Reason 4: Engaging and Ever-Changing Work Atmosphere
In a pharmacy setting, no two days are the same. It’s not dull work sitting in front of a monitor. This career will keep you on your toes, stimulating you intellectually, fostering continuous growth and learning, and making each workday exciting and challenging!
Under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist or pharmacy technician, your duties and responsibilities as a pharmacy assistant can include:
- Answering phone calls from pharmacy customers
- Addressing customer queries, responding to their inquiries, or referring them to the pharmacist
- Entering patient data and prescriptions into a pharmacy software system
- Creating labels for medical products and stock purchasing lists
- Compounding, packaging, and labelling pharmaceutical products
- Helping patients and customers with dispensing medications
- Providing proper drug inventory management and track on medication safety
- Ordering medicines via medical supply chains to maintain inventory
- Providing tips and recommendations on over-the-counter medicines
- Taking care of the cash register and processing payments for prescriptions
- Restocking the drugstore floor and accepting deliveries
- Filling health insurance claims and getting insurance records ready
- Preparing certain chemicals with a pharmacist’s guidance
- Assisting pharmacists with managing other pharmacy operations
Your actual role and duties may vary, based on the size of the pharmacy, the overseeing pharmacist, and the province you are working in.
Reason 5: Diverse Career Opportunities
If you ask, “Is pharmacy assistant a good career in Canada?”, the short answer is ‘Yes!’ Choosing a career as a pharmacy assistant opens the door to a variety of working environments within the healthcare industry.
You can choose to work full-time or part-time in different settings including:
- Retail pharmaceutical businesses
- Hospitals and medical clinics
- Assisted living centers
- Nursing homes
- Mental health institutions
- Mail order pharmacies
Your pharmacy assistant job titles may also vary. You can work as a retail pharmacy assistant or pharmacy administrative professional, to name a few. There is also an opportunity to advance into a position in retail management or to supervise other pharmacy assistants in a community drug store.
What Do You Need to Work as a Pharmacy Assistant in Canada?
To answer this question, let's explore three core elements you need in order to pursue a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry in Canada: education, skills, and practical experience.
Most employers prefer to hire candidates who already have the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience necessary to excel in the pharmacy assistant role.
This makes recognized career college pharmacy assistant courses highly sought-after. Depending on the institution and the comprehensiveness of the curriculum, it usually takes from six to ten months to earn a pharmacy assistant diploma. You will want a program that includes courses in:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Pharmaceutical terminology
- Pharmacy calculations
- Pharmacy procedures
- Pharmaceutical software
- Customer service approaches
- Ethics and patient privacy rules
In fact, having a career college diploma doubles your chances of getting hired.
Five key skills needed for pharmacy assistants to execute their duties with accuracy and empathy include:
- Attention to detail: Pharmacy assistants must be meticulous in their work to ensure accurate medication dispensing and proper record-keeping. Even the slightest error could have significant consequences for a patient's health, so being attentive to details is a must in this profession.
- Customer service skills: Interacting with patients and other healthcare professionals is a daily aspect of a pharmacy assistant's job. Having excellent customer service skills will help you provide friendly, helpful, and compassionate patient care, creating a positive experience for pharmacy customers.
- Communication skills: When assisting patients with medication prescriptions or addressing their health-related queries, a pharmacy assistant requires excellent communication skills. In addition, being an effective communicator helps a pharmacy assistant seamlessly collaborate with pharmacists and other team members.
- Organizational abilities: In a fast-paced pharmacy setting, Pharmacy Assistants must stay organized to effectively manage pharmacy administrative tasks, patient queries, prescription preparation, and drug inventory.
- Empathy and ethics: Dealing with patients who may be unwell or facing health challenges requires a high level of empathy and ethics. Pharmacy assistants need these skills to approach patient interactions with compassion and understanding.
Practicum experience is one of the most valuable assets a pharmacy assistant can bring to their employer. In some career colleges, a practicum placement is included to provide pharmacy assistant training and real-world experience in a pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist.
Practicum experience sets you apart from other candidates during the hiring process. It helps you gain confidence in your abilities to effectively contribute to a pharmacy team with a clear understanding of the day-to-day duties of a pharmacy assistant in a real pharmacy.
How to Start Your Career as a Pharmacy Assistant in Less Than a Year
- Gain valuable hands-on experience in labs and practicums, including non-sterile compounding and dispensing.
- Study medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology to identify the major classes of drugs needed to treat illnesses and other conditions.
- Learn the important mathematical formulas used by pharmacy assistants in their daily jobs.
- Explore both institutional and retail pharmacies to discover the differences and be prepared for careers in any type of pharmacy.
- Support: Throughout your learning journey at Sundance, you'll receive guidance and support from caring admissions advisors, experienced instructors, and responsive student service assistants who are dedicated to your success.
- Online Format Available: For added flexibility, Sundance College offers an online pharmacy assistant program allowing you to balance your studies with other commitments.
- Laptop Program: As part of the program, you can participate in our laptop program to enhance your learning experience and ensure you have the tools you need to succeed.
- Career Services: Sundance College is committed to helping students achieve their career aspirations. With access to our Career Services, you'll receive assistance with resume building, preparing for interviews, and job search planning.