What is a Pharmacy Assistant?
In a community pharmacy, Pharmacy Assistants work in the retail side of the pharmacy. They are usually the first point of contact with the customers.
In a hospital pharmacy, Pharmacy Assistants are involved in a range of activities related to the running of the pharmacy area.
Pharmacy Assistants need to be well organised, be able to work as part of a team and be able to communicate and relate to patients/customers.
What does a Pharmacy Assistant do?
They will interact with customers/patients and are usually responsible for managing the sales and merchandising of products and services.
They may also assist and advise patients on
- minor injury or wound management
- personal healthcare
- eye care
- nutrition and dietary requirements
- seasonal ailments
Hospital Pharmacy Assistants may be involved in the stock management for the pharmacy, distribution of medicines to wards as well as a range of other activities to ensure the smooth operation of the pharmacy.
What qualifications are needed to be a Pharmacy Assistant?
To gain employment and to work as a Pharmacy Assistant there is no requirement to have a qualification. However due to the nature of the pharmacy environment it is strongly recommended that a pharmacy assistant, as a minimum, completes the NZ Certificate in Pharmacy (Introduction to Pharmacy Practice) Level 3. Completion of this qualification ensures that the staff member is fully trained in dealing with the receipt and distribution of prescription medicines, has a good understanding of the legislation around pharmacy, is aware of the health and safety aspects of the pharmacy and has an understanding of communicating and dealing with customers who may have or be seeking information about health concerns.
This qualification is equally relevant for those who are employed as Pharmacy Assistants working in a hospital pharmacy.
Pharmacy Assistants may also study towards the NZ Certificate in Pharmacy (Community Pharmacy Assistant) Level 4. This qualification is designed for those who wish to become skilled and knowledgeable in the sale of over the counter (OTC) medicines. It involves indepth training into body systems, medical conditions of these systems and the best OTC medications used in the treatment for them. This qualification also provides a good background for those seeking more management and operational skills needed for roles such as retail management, or team leaders working in a pharmacy
What career prospects are open to Pharmacy Assistants?
Pharmacy Assistants can progress to be a Pharmacy Technician working in the dispensary or may become retail or business managers looking after the retail side of the pharmacy.