How to be a Good Pharmacy Assistant

October 7th, 2021 / By Eastern College

Are you interested in a career in the increasingly expanding healthcare industry? If you’re someone who enjoys the sciences, likes helping people, and appreciates variety in their work a career as a pharmacy assistant may be right for you. Pharmacy assistants work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist assisting them with the tasks required to keep the pharmacy or related department running smoothly and efficiently. Pharmacy assistants work well in a team environment, are detail-oriented, and have adaptive personalities.

Common job duties of a pharmacy assistant include:
• preparing and dispensing prescriptions
• recommending and selling over-the-counter medication
• providing patients with information about their medications and recommended doses
• maintaining patient information and files
• receiving and storing orders properly
• speaking to patients over the phone
• performing clerical duties as needed

Pharmacy assistants typically work in retail and hospital pharmacy settings, home healthcare divisions/companies, institutional settings, and pharmaceutical distribution. No matter which avenue you choose, you have to ensure that you get the right training and experience to be successful.

What Do You Need to Be a Pharmacy Assistant?

To be a good pharmacy assistant, prospective candidates have to get quality education by enrolling in a pharmacy assistant course and by working on their customer service and clerical skills related to the position. Getting an education at an accredited institution is the first step on your path to working in the pharmacy sector. Aspiring pharmacy assistants need to choose a pharmacy assistant program where they will learn physiology, anatomy, and medical terminology about the common medical issues that exist and the medications that treat them.

Attention to detail is a fundamental ability of being a pharmacy assistant. Ensuring that patients’ prescriptions are processed correctly and in a timely manner will help contribute to a positive customer experience. It is imperative that a pharmacy assistant pays close attention when preparing the dosages against the name of the medication. In handing off the prescription to the patient, the pharmacy assistant must ensure that the patient understands important information regarding their prescription such as frequency of doses and requirements such as ingesting with food.

Do You Need Experience to be a Pharmacy Assistant?

Like in most fields, experience is preferred but not mandatory. The good news is if you’ve worked at a retail store, a restaurant, or another customer-facing role, then you’ve already started to build your foundation in these skills. A professional associate who knows how to speak to customers facing a variety of issues will go a long way. Customer service skills are transferable soft skills across many industries and are valuable to any job candidate. In your role as a pharmacy assistant, you will have to rely on these skills to help patients feel safe and welcomed and to build trust with your facility.

Having experience with clerical skills such as payment processing, photocopying, telephone etiquette, and computer literacy are examples of more skills that you can transfer from your previous work history. Demonstrating your knowledge in these skills will be helpful when asked to take part in the daily administrative tasks that contribute to the maintenance of the business.

Regardless of the experience you have, the best way to get experience in this field is to enroll in a pharmacy assistant program that has an internship component. Participating in an internship will help students to get hands-on experience while they are still in the learning environment. Internships provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their capabilities in what they’ve learned in real-world settings with the ability to be coached by professionals in the field.

If you’re wondering how to get a pharmacy assistant license, you’re in luck as another great thing about becoming a pharmacy assistant is the ability to work in an aspect of the healthcare field without lengthy training or licensing. Becoming a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician involves more schooling and additional exams. Pharmacy assistants qualify for their positions by successfully completing a pharmacy assistant course or program with an accredited educational institution.

A Career in Demand

According to Job Bank Canada, the job prospects for pharmacy assistants in Atlantic Canada are on the rise and projected to be positive. Specifically speaking to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the job opportunities will continue to grow as many pharmacy assistants begin to retire. The median wage for pharmacy assistants in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is $17.00 hourly and $16.25 respectively.

Learn more about the industry and about Eastern College’s Pharmacy Assistant program.