Pharmacy assistants are the friendly folks who greet customers, prepare prescriptions, and carry out a whole host of other tasks that keep a pharmacy operating smoothly.
They do everything from answering the phone and updating patient records to managing inventory and processing insurance claims.
Ultimately, this role is about helping licensed pharmacists deliver quality patient care.
Like the idea of being the “face” of a pharmacy? Wondering what it takes to start a career in this field?
We surveyed dozens of current job postings to see what pharmacy assistant skills employers are looking for.
Here’s what you need to get hired.
1. pharmacy SOFTWARE SKILLS
Most pharmacies rely on software for their daily operations, so assistants need to be comfortable with computers.
Many employers look for candidates who have experience with industry-standard pharmacy software packages like Kroll and Nexxys.
These programs allow you to customize patient records, generate labels, sort prescriptions, schedule tasks, and more.
You’ll get lots of hands-on practice with this kind of software in pharmacy assistant training.
2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS
This is one of the most important pharmacy assistant skills.
You will be dealing with patients and healthcare professionals, so you must be able to communicate effectively with people of all different ages and backgrounds.
You need good phone etiquette and excellent interpersonal skills.
In a multicultural city like Toronto, it also helps to be able to speak other languages in addition to English. For example, we found pharmacy assistant postings that requested skills in Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian.
3. CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS
Along with being a good communicator, you must be able to deliver top-notch customer service.
Pharmacy assistants greet customers, answer questions, and handle complaints. That means you need to be patient, compassionate, and tactful.
Employers want pharmacy assistants who can maintain a professional attitude and build customer loyalty.
A good pharmacy assistant program will teach you how to deal with conflicts, resolve complaints, and provide excellent service.
4. KNOWLEDGE OF PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS
Many employers expect you to be familiar with the different products available in the pharmacy.
You should know what drugs (both name brand and generic) are commonly prescribed for various conditions. You should also be aware of the basic uses for over-the-counter products.
It’s important to understand the basics of pharmacology and the classifications of different drugs.
5. PRESCRIPTION DISPENSING SKILLS
Calculating correct dosages and measuring and blending ingredients are key pharmacy assistant skills.
For example, you may be called upon to reconstitute powdered drugs (i.e. dilute them with a liquid).
Or you might be responsible for preparing a custom formulation of a medicine (known as compounding) for a patient who is allergic to something in the commercially available version.
Pharmacy assistant training will teach you the math involved in preparing drugs and show you how to mix ingredients for creams, capsules, ointments, solutions, suspensions, and more.
6. PAYMENT PROCESSING SKILLS
Part of a pharmacy assistant’s job is to work the cash register and collect payments from customers.
It helps if you have experience handling cash or processing credit card transactions.
Employers also appreciate new hires who understand the policies and procedures around third-party billing (i.e. insurance claims). But you can learn that on the job if necessary.
7. ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS
Imagine the phone is ringing, you have dozens of prescriptions waiting to be filled, and the patient in front of you is complaining about a billing issue.
Can you prioritize your tasks and stay calm under pressure?
Pharmacy assistants need to be highly organized and pay keen attention to details.
Even when things are busy, you can’t lose track of what needs to be done—or lose focus on a task and start making errors.
8. A SELF-STARTER MENTALITY
Employers like to hire pharmacy assistants who are proactive and can get the job done without much supervision.
Be ready to step up and complete tasks like organizing and cleaning your work area or restocking pharmacy shelves with non-prescription merchandise.
Showing that you’re capable of taking the initiative will help you get hired.
9. FLEXIBILITY WITH SCHEDULING
Some pharmacies are open late or on weekends, so you need to be open to taking on different shifts.
Many pharmacy assistant job postings we saw specified that applicants should be willing to work mornings, evenings, weekends, and stat holidays.
The more flexible you are, the more attractive you’ll be as a candidate.
READY TO LEARN THE PHARMACY ASSISTANT SKILLS EMPLOYERS WANT?
It all starts with quality training. Take a look at the Pharmacy Assistant program at Herzing College (offered at both the Toronto and Ottawa campus).
It takes only 10 months to complete and includes a 4-week internship at a local pharmacy.
Training covers pharmacy software, pharmacology, dosage calculations, compounding, customer service, and more.
Need more info? An Admissions Advisor can walk you through the program and help you determine if it’s right for you.
Click below to get full program details and chat live with an Advisor. We’re here to help!