One of the key steps in choosing career training is looking closely at how typical job requirements stack up against your natural skills and characteristics. A profession might look great on paper, but be fundamentally unsuited to your wants, needs, and long term goals.
If you're looking for fast entry into a health care career, a number of college programs may catch your eye—including pharmacy assistant training, which is one of the shortest health care diplomas available.
But before you jump in, take a moment to consider the core attributes needed to excel as a pharmacy assistant, and what kinds of tasks you'll be responsible for on-the-job.
Ask yourself these 5 questions to get a sense of whether pharmacy assistant training is the right next step for you.
1. Are you an effective communicator who puts others at ease?
Pharmacy assistants are the "face" of the pharmacy. They greet customers, handle the phones, answer questions about products, accept incoming prescriptions, and work the cash register. In hospital pharmacies, assistants also coordinate closely with nurses and doctors, helping to prepare IVs and other prescriptions for patients.
Given the emphasis on customer service, it's crucial for prospective students to honestly assess their communication and social skills. Are you good at building rapport with people? Do you consider yourself a compassionate, positive, and patient person?
These "soft skills" are key for pharmacy assistants, and should be considered a prerequisite for pharmacy assistant training.
2. How would you rate your organizational skills?
Are you able to focus on a task for a sustained period of time? Are you good at remembering steps and procedures, and noticing small details?
These are key skills for pharmacy assistants, who are typically responsible for processing prescriptions, counting out pills, compounding solutions, calculating dosages, managing inventory, and other important tasks where organization and attention to detail are essential.
Both community and hospital pharmacies have strict protocols and operating procedures, which assistants must learn and follow. Being naturally well-organized and meticulous helps a lot both during training and on-the-job.
3. Are you comfortable working with computers?
You don't need to be an IT specialist to become a pharmacy assistant, but comfort using and learning computer software is very helpful for new recruits.
Your pharmacy assistant courses will provide training on industry-standard programs, such as Pro-Pharm and Nexxsys, but you may need to learn other systems as well, depending on where you work.
Modern pharmacies use computerized systems for a range of tasks, including patient record-keeping, inventory management, supplier and doctor information, and generating prescription labels.
4. Do you have an interest in pharmacology and healthcare?
If you're considering pharmacy assistant training, it makes sense to reflect on whether you're genuinely interested in health care and pharmacology. After all, you'll spend a considerable number of school hours learning about generic and brand name drugs, over-the-counter-products, and government drug regulations.
And once you're at work, you'll be helping clients understand these products and how to use them. Being passionate about health care services will help you find satisfaction in the important role you'll play in patients' lives.
5. Are you able to stand & work on your feet for extended periods?
Like many health care professionals, pharmacy assistants spend a lot of time on their feet. You'll need a certain degree of physical dexterity and stamina to do this job well. Serious back or joint issues may prove problematic for assistants who work in busy community or hospital environments. Pharmacy assistants are typially very active, juggle multiple tasks throughout each shift, and are expected to maintain a high level of productivity.
Feel you have what it takes to excel as a pharmacy assistant? Interested in learning more about pharmacy career paths or pharmacy assistant programs in Ottawa?
Take a look at Herzing College's Pharmacy Assistant Training, delivered at our Ottawa campus. Fill out the form at the top right of this page for fast, free information.
Or, click below to browse admission information, courses, career options—and chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help.