Health and Social Care
How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant? Duties, Qualifications, Working Life, and Salary
Becoming a pharmacy assistant is a great way to get started in the medical field. Pharmacy assistants work closely with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to dispense medications and provide customer service.
If you are interested in becoming a pharmacy assistant, this blog will cover how to become a pharmacy assistant, along with the duties a pharmacy assistant carries out, what qualifications they need, and their working life. We will also touch on salary expectations.
So if you are interested in becoming a pharmacy assistant, read on!
Table of Content
- What is a Pharmacy Assistant?
- Role and Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Assistant
- What Does a Pharmacy Assistant Do?
- How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant
- Why Become a Dispenser or Pharmacy Assistant?
What is a Pharmacy Assistant?
A pharmacy assistant works under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. They support administrative and clerical work, whether in a retail setting or a busy hospital. They educate and help people get their medications on time and smoothly with necessary duties in the pharmacy.
According to the NHS, Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians order, prepare and dispense medicines.
Role and Responsibilities of a Pharmacy Assistant
Pharmacy assistants are considered a hands-on role in the healthcare Department. They are responsible for many job duties to assist customers and pharmacists, including- customer service, technical, administrative and clerical.
Tasks of the pharmacy. A pharmacy assistant carries out the most common roles and types of responsibilities:
- As per the direction of a licensed pharmacist, dispenses prescription medication and other medical products to patients
- Labels bottles, count pills, prices, and compounds medications
- Performs administrative duties
- Receiving and inputting prescription orders
- Operating cash registers and restocking inventory
- Gives information and instructs patients about their medications
- Keep Records of patient data and maintains electronic information
- Monitors prescription-filling process
- Ensure compliance with regulations and pharmacy policies
- Keep liaison with healthcare providers and patients to attain correct prescription information
- Takes inventory of drugs on hand and records results
- Places orders for additional medicines as directed by the pharmacist
- Prepares billing information for medications
- Finalise patients’ sales transactions as per the prescription
Additionally, they are also responsible for working as part of a healthcare team in community pharmacies or hospitals. In these cases, they need to be delivered to different parts of the hospital.
At this stage, knowing about “Sterile Pharmacy Compounding” is important as it provides insights into a crucial aspect of pharmaceutical practice. Uvaluable nderstanding sterile compounding helps pharmacy assistants ensure the safe preparation of medications, which is a fundamental responsibility in their role.
What Does a Pharmacy Assistant Do?
The primary purpose of a pharmacy assistant is to reinforce the duties and responsibilities of a pharmacist and ensure the best customer service. With these primary goals in mind, here are a few examples of what he does daily:
- Taking in and handing out prescriptions
- Dispensing and packaging prescriptions
- Using computer systems to generate stock lists and labels
- Answering pharmacy phones and providing assistance
- Operating a cash register to oversee – purchases and returns
- Helping and educating customers
- Maintain all necessary records.
Get Study Plex Subscription with 1000+ Accredited CPD Courses at only £99/Year. Access Unlimited CPD Accredited Courses at £199 Lifetime
How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant
Extensive education is not required to become a pharmacy assistant; however, a high school diploma is compulsory. Some steps you need to follow:
- Required Degree: The first step to becoming a pharmacy assistant is obtaining a high school diploma or General Equivalency Degree (GED). It is a technical education requirement to become an assistant pharmacist.
- Training: Unlike pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants do not need a certification program. You can take training to increase your chances of getting a job. Many options are available in community and career colleges. The training takes two years long and focuses on chemistry and drug interactions. But for your career growth, you can do a Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Retail Skills.
- Online Courses: After graduating from high school, taking online courses helps to enhance your career growth. Courses on physiology, math or anatomy can increase your chances of being hired as a pharmacy assistant. Retail and customer service related courses also add extraordinary skills to your portfolio.
- Acquire Experience: Find a job at a pharmaceutical company, local drug store, hospital, nuclear pharmacy, mail-order pharmacy, outpatient clinic or nursing home. You can also search for opportunities on a hospital’s websites or use the NHS website to find the suitable one. You can also inform your friends that you are looking for a pharmacy assistant job so that they can inform you about the same.
There are no entry requirements. However, most employers expect good literacy, numeracy, and IT skills. For example, they may ask for GCSEs or equivalent qualifications and relevant work experience, though it is not specified expertise in customer service. But experience in a customer service role is a practical skill.
According to the National career service in the UK, for Entry requirements, You may need:
- Two or more GCSEs in grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or match, for a level 3 course
Skills Required To Become a Pharmacy Assistant
A pharmacy assistant must have the following skill-
- Knowledge of drug regulations
- Responsible, accurate and organised
- Pay attention to detail.
- Excellent communication
- Customer service
- Manual skills
- Memorisation skills
- Able to multitasking
- Able to keep a record
- Good listener
- Adaptive learner
- Organisational skill
- Having scientific and IT knowledge
What Qualifications and Training Do You Need To Be a Pharmacy Assistant?
You can do training on the job, such as health and safety, use of IT systems, manufacturing medicines and dispensing prescriptions. You may also be offered the chance to complete the Pharmacy services assistant (level 2).
Many pharmacist assistants take additional certifications in specific industries, such as senior or paediatrics care. They can work closely with the pharmacist to discuss drug interactions, test new medications, and offer different delivery systems. All these programs enhance your employment opportunities and career progression. Taking online courses and earning certifications can lead you to another level.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacy Assistant?
To become a pharmacy assistant, you’ll need a high school diploma or a GED. But you have to take some pieces of training. The length of the training is two years, and you take subjects like- chemistry, pharmacy and drug interactions. Admission requirements for the program include courses in English, chemistry, maths and business in high school.
Why Become a Dispenser or Pharmacy Assistant?
You can choose Dispenser or pharmacy assistant as a career field. Sometimes. A dispensary assistant is sometimes referred to as a pharmacy assistant. It offers challenges that increase your interpersonal and communication skills that enhance your professional experience. Some reasons to become a pharmacy assistant:
- A pharmacy assistant makes a difference in the field of customer service. Helping customers, resolving problems or answering questions will not only make you feel good. Still, it will also give your position a sense of motivation.
- The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the healthcare field. Covid-19, Monkeypox virus demands new medicine or vaccine. So who knows what will come in the future? And how much does the workforce need to tackle the challenges?
- The pharmaceutical field offers many advancement opportunities, making it an ideal area for anyone who wants long-term professional possibilities and exciting new challenges.
- You will have a variety of hands-on roles. Pharmacy assistants have intense responsibilities that are not limited to inputting data. Filling medications, measuring prescriptions, and organising stock will keep your days filled with purposeful action.
- Many opportunities are available in the healthcare industry. You may be at the starting point in this field, but the journey brings out different roles and a secure future. Where you can-
- Work Towards becoming a pharmacy technician or pharmacist
- Assist a team responsible for receiving and delivering medicines and medical gases in a hospital or an aseptic unit to help prepare cancer drugs.
- Become a health living champion working in a community pharmacy.
- You can select the work location as per your interest. Some of these locations include:
- Nursing homes
- Nuclear pharmacies
- Compounding pharmacies
- Mail-order pharmacies
- Corrections facilities
Medicines are the most common treatments offered to patients. You will work as part of a pharmacy team under a registered pharmacist’s direction and work with patients to answer their questions.
You will ensure that the pharmacy has the necessary stock by ordering items and receiving, loading and unloading deliveries. For example, working in a hospital or health centre may deliver medicines to other wards or healthcare professionals.
Pay and benefits
In the UK, The National Careers Service, the average salary for a Pharmacy Assistant is £17,846.
Average salary (a year)
Typical hours (a week)- 37 to 39a week
Pharmacy assistants will usually start at band 2 or 3 of the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scale if you’re working in the NHS. You’ll also have access to a generous pension scheme, health service discounts, and at least 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.
Terms and conditions can be different for pharmacy assistants outside of the NHS, including those working in community pharmacies or for other employers that provide NHS services.
In preparation for that steps to become a pharmacy assistant, taking a Pharmacy Calculations Course is a wise move. This course equips you with the essential mathematical skills needed for accurate medication dosage calculations. By mastering these calculations, you will ensure medication safety and effectiveness, which is crucial for patient well-being.
Having versatile responsibilities as a pharmacy assistant can assure your career in the pharmacy industry. Accomplish the required education, training and job experience to smooth your path. You are now well aware of the duties, responsibilities, importance, pay and benefits. So, make your updated CV and drop it to your preferred place to join the competitive healthcare field.