Can a Pharmacy Assistant Bridge to Pharmacy Technician?

April 23rd, 2024

The world of pharmacy offers exciting career opportunities for those with a passion for healthcare and helping othersOne path many take is from pharmacy assistant to pharmacy technician. But what does the bridge from Pharmacy Assistant to Pharmacy Technician entail? In this article, we’ll step into the world of pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians, and explore how to make the transition between the two in Nova Scotia through Eastern College’s Pharmacy Technician Program. 

What do Pharmacy Assistants Do?

Pharmacy assistants are the backbone of many pharmacies, providing crucial customer service and support to pharmacists. Their duties encompass a wide range of tasks, including: 

Greeting and assisting customers: Pharmacy assistants are often the first point of contact for pharmacy patients. They answer questions about medications, take payments, and ensure a smooth customer experience. 

Inventory control and stocking: Maintaining a well-stocked pharmacy is essential. Pharmacy assistants play a key role in keeping shelves organized, managing inventory levels, and ordering new medications. 

Data entry and insurance processing: Pharmacy assistants handle essential administrative tasks, inputting patient information, processing insurance claims, and ensuring accurate records. 

Preparing medications for dispensing: While not dispensing medications themselves, pharmacy assistants often perform preparatory tasks, labelling and sorting medications under the supervision of a pharmacist. 

What is a Pharmacy Technician?

Pharmacy technicians are licensed healthcare professionals who work collaboratively with pharmacists to ensure the safe and effective dispensing of medications.  Their responsibilities take on a more technical and clinical role compared to pharmacy assistants. Here’s a closer look at what pharmacy technicians do: 

Medication dispensing: Pharmacy technicians dispense medications to patients, following prescriptions and ensuring proper dosage and labelling. 

Compounding medications: In some cases, pharmacy technicians may be involved in compounding medications, which involves preparing customized medications to meet specific patient needs. 

Providing patient education: Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in patient care by educating patients on their medications, including proper use, storage, and potential side effects. 

Inventory control and management: Similar to pharmacy assistants, pharmacy technicians may be involved in managing pharmacy inventory, ensuring medications are properly stored and readily available. 

Quality assurance and adherence: Pharmacy technicians play a role in quality assurance processes within pharmacies, helping to ensure medications are dispensed accurately and safely. 

How Much Does a Pharmacy Technician Earn?

The salary of a pharmacy technician in Nova Scotia can vary depending on experience, location, and the type of pharmacy setting (hospital, retail pharmacy etc.). According to the Government of Canada, the median hourly wage for a pharmacy technician in Nova Scotia is $18/hour. The high hourly wage for Nova Scotia is $27/hour.

How Can a Pharmacy Assistant Become a Pharmacy Technician in Nova Scotia?

If you’re a pharmacy assistant in Nova Scotia and are interested in becoming a pharmacy technician, there’s good news!  Eastern College offers a bridging program specifically designed to help pharmacy assistants transition to the pharmacy technician role. Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved: 

Eligibility: To be eligible for the Pharmacy Technician Program at Eastern College in Nova Scotia, you will need: 

  • Grade 12 or equivalent, with academic level (grade 11 and/or 12) Math, English and/or French, Chemistry and Biology 
  • If a student does not have Grade 12 or equivalent, they must be 19 years of age or older and demonstrate academic potential via the successful completion of a literacy/numeracy admission test. 
  • A complete standardized health form and program of immunization will be required 
  • A Clear Conduct Certificate 
  • Language proficiency requirement as per the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) 

Pharmacy Bridging Program: The Pharmacy Technician Bridging Program at Eastern College is a program designed to build on the existing knowledge and skills of pharmacy assistants. The program covers topics such as pharmacology, pharmaceutical calculations, and anatomy and physiology. Over the course of 48 weeks, students will study 3 hours per week giving them the flexibility they need to balance their work and education commitments. Classes are also held virtually so that students can study in a setting that suits them.   

Bridging from pharmacy assistant to pharmacy technician is a rewarding career path for those in Nova Scotia’s pharmacy field. By leveraging existing experience and knowledge through Eastern College’s Pharmacy Technician Program, pharmacy assistants can gain the necessary qualifications to become licensed pharmacy technicians. This transition opens doors to a more technical and clinical role within pharmacy practice, with increased responsibilities and earning potential.