Pharmacy Assistant

The Pharmacy Assistant Program was developed to address the need for trained workers to assist Pharmacists and Regulated Pharmacy Technicians in the day-to-day running of a pharmacy.  The need arose out of the regulation of Pharmacy Technicians and the expansion of the duties of the Pharmacist.  Pharmacy Assistants work under the supervision of the Pharmacist (where permitted by legislation).  They assist with the preparation and distribution of pharmaceuticals, inventory management, and documentation.  They work within a scope of responsibilities, code of ethics and understanding of the legal and regulatory requirements in the pharmacy industry.

Responsibilities will vary depending of the level of training and employment setting.  Duties may include:

  • Filling medication orders including measuring, mixing, packaging, labelling and delivering drugs
  • Managing inventory, including monitoring, re-stocking, expired products and inventory management
  • Receiving written prescriptions and inputting prescriptions into the computer system
  • Maintaining computerized lists of medications taken by patients
  • Communicating with clients, physicians and suppliers
  • Understanding home health care products such as canes, vision aids and hearing aids
  • Pre-packaging medications (i.e., unit dose packaging)
  • Answering telephones and taking messages
  • Cleaning and sterilizing dispensing bottles and instruments
  • Operating a cash register
  • Preparing receipts, invoices, letters and memos and general filing
  • Receiving and sending electronic communications

Pharmacy Assistants are employed primarily in retail pharmacies and medical centre pharmacies.  However, new and expanding opportunities are becoming available with health insurance companies and third party billing centres, pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, drug wholesalers and pharmacy supply companies, pharmacy software vendors, drug information sites and clinical researchers.  Pharmacy Assistants may be required to work shifts, including evenings, weekends and holidays.

Final Pharmacy Assistant Examinations – 2:

The NACC final examinations evaluate both the Calculations exam and Theory component of the training to determine whether the candidate has met the required level of knowledge.  The external setting and marking provide unbiased and consistent evaluation, adhering to industry standards.

NACC’s Exam Services Committee monitors and reviews the Pharmacy Assistant program content and examination system.  The Exam Services Committee also serves as a resource for member colleges offering support and advice for delivery of the program.

Examinations are developed by the committee with input from the pharmacy sector and Common Standards Group Colleges, and examinations are offered on a monthly basis.

The standardized curricula and third party examinations not only demonstrate NACC’s commitment to promote national standards but also facilitate credit transfer and mobility for students seeking further qualifications.

NACC Certificate and Pin:

Successful students are awarded a numbered certificate and correspondingly-numbered pin identifying the graduate as having successfully passed the theory portion of the Pharmacy Assistant program.

Why You Should Hire an NACC Pharmacy Assistant Graduate:

Benefits to potential employers hiring graduates of the Common Standards Group Pharmacy Assistant Program include:

  • Assurance that graduates have been trained to meet established learning outcomes and program standards
  • Assurance that the graduate has the knowledge required to do the job as verified by third party testing
  • Assurance that the skills required to do the job have been verified prior to graduation

Key Elements of the Program:

Program Length:

  • 1015 hours, including classroom instruction/labs, CPR and First Aid certification, clinical placement in retail pharmacy, review and testing.

Topics Covered in the NACC Program:

  • Introduction to Pharmacy Practice
  • Human Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology with Medical Terminology
  • Introduction to Computers, Applications and Keyboarding
  • Interpersonal Skills, Communication, Problem Solving and Client Services
  • Pharmaceutical Calculations
  • Pharmaceutical Law and Ethics
  • Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Fundamentals
  • Compounding
  • Sterile Products and Introduction to Institutional Pharmacy Practice
  • Retail Pharmacy Practice
  • CPR and First Aid Certification
  • Employment and Career Management
  • Clinical Placement
  • Review and Testing

NACC Final Examinations:

  • Review and Testing Theory exam and the Calculations exam.  Students must pass both.  Maximum of 3 writings for each.  Certificate and pin awarded to those who pass the examinations.

Entrance Requirements:

  • Grade 12 with minimum of 1 senior Math, 1 senior English, 1 senior Science
  • Mature Students must have the required level of Math, English and Science plus an acceptable score on an approved qualifying test
  • Strong oral and written English
  • Ability to communicate well in person and over the telephone
  • Medical Certificate attesting to fitness to undertake the program
  • Admissions interview
  • Standard First Aid and Level C CPR Certification (prior to practicum)
  • Computer skills including keyboarding minimum speed and accuracy of 40 words per minute

Instructor Requirements:

  • Pharmacist or Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) Certification as a Pharmacy Technician
  • Minimum of three years current, relevant work experience in a Canadian Pharmacy
  • Compliance with provincial Act regarding instructor qualifications

For a complete list of member colleges offering the NACC Pharmacy Assistant Program, click here.