How To Become A Pharmacy Assistant
As a pharmacy assistant, you will play a vital role in the lives of those who need medication and medical treatments. This role involves helping the pharmacist to order, prepare and distribute prescription medication, offering patients a helping hand with over-the-counter treatments and ensuring that patients’ records are kept up to date.
If you want to use your customer service skills and pharmaceutical knowledge in your career, then we recommend exploring a career as a pharmacy assistant.
What Does A Pharmacy Assistant Do?
Pharmacy assistants work in pharmacies alongside the rest of the pharmacy team to order, prepare, distribute and manage patients’ medications. This includes receiving prescription orders from doctors and preparing the medication for the patient, as well as stocking over-the-counter medications and offering advice and assistance to patients regarding their medications and ailments.
Pharmacy assistants are not qualified doctors or pharmacists and, therefore, assistants must work under the supervision of a pharmacist when advising clients.
Pharmacy assistants have a number of important duties administering pharmacy services to clients, including customer care, general administration and pharmaceutical management. Some of the regular responsibilities of a pharmacy assistant include:
Pharmacists often work in chemists; however, they may also work in private or NHS hospital dispensaries and nursing homes. In hospital environments, pharmacy assistants might also be responsible for delivering medication to other departments within the hospital.
What Qualifications Are Needed to Become A Pharmacy Assistant?
There are no standard qualifications that a pharmacy assistant must have, however many employers will look for good IT, Maths and English skills. Some understanding of healthcare and a keen interest in customer service would also be beneficial.
If you have a GCSE in Maths, English and IT, then this can help you in your pursuit of a career as a pharmacy assistant. If you study an accredited course in Health, then this can greatly increase your chances of securing pharmacy assistant jobs as it demonstrates an eagerness to learn about the industry as well as knowledge of working in healthcare.
There are several healthcare courses you can study, including A-Level courses and diploma courses. NVQs and GCSEs. These courses can help expand your knowledge of medicine, deepen your understanding of medical issues and develop your communication and patient care skills. They vary in terms of entry requirements depending on the study level and course type. For example, a bachelor’s degree course will likely need GCSE and A Level qualifications. However, these are also available to be taken through distance learning also.
There might also be apprenticeship opportunities near you or the potential to do work experience in a pharmacy or hospital to help you to find a job as a pharmacy assistant.
What Skills Are Needed To Become A Pharmacy
The skills of a pharmacy assistant are very important, particularly the need to pay close attention to detail to ensure all medication is correctly dispensed to patients.
Pharmacy assistants have several skills in their repertoire, including people skills and technical skills. Some of the key skills you will need to work as a pharmacy assistant include:
Accuracy and organisation
Ability to pay attention to detail
Good written and spoken English
Customer service skills
Patient care and empathy
Discretion and adherence to confidentiality
Does Becoming A Pharmacy Assistant Need Any Work Experience?
Pharmacy assistant roles do not have an official work experience requirement. However, relevant work experience can certainly increase your likelihood of securing a position as a pharmacy assistant.
Relevant experience might include working in another healthcare role (e.g. medical receptionist), in a customer service role, in hospitality or in an administrative role. All of these industries have transferable skills which will be very relevant to a pharmacy assistant job.
Retail skills and customer service is particularly relevant and an area within which there is a lot of opportunity for work experience. If you can secure some retail work, this can help you develop key customer service and communication skills, demonstrating experience working in busy retail environments to employers.
You could gain work experience through your current job role, however there are also part-time and full-time voluntary roles in healthcare work environments. These can help you build some of the key skills needed to succeed as a pharmacy assistant and develop your resume.
Career Prospects For A Pharmacy Assistant
Pharmacy assistants who are experienced and have additional qualifications under their belt, such as a health-related diploma, can go on to become a senior pharmacy assistant, supervisor or manager.
Pharmacy assistants are highly in demand and essential to the day-to-day running of a chemist or hospital dispensary and to ensuring that patients receive the medication that they need.
If you have an interest in healthcare and want to help patients with their medication, then explore courses in health, gain experience in customer service and build up your resume to embark on this fascinating career.