Career Development

What Does a Pharmacy Assistant Do?

Find out what a pharmacy assistant does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a pharmacy assistant.

Pharmacy assistants are the front-line workers in pharmacies. They help pharmacists provide patient care by filling prescriptions, handling inventory, and performing other tasks that support the pharmacy’s primary function of dispensing medication.

Pharmacy assistants may also be responsible for interacting with customers directly to answer questions or resolve issues related to their prescription orders.

Pharmacy Assistant Job Duties

Pharmacy assistants have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Preparing inventory of medications and supplies, recording information about purchases and deliveries, and maintaining inventory records
  • Preparing sterile solutions by measuring ingredients, adding sterilizing solutions, and stirring solutions while they cool
  • Administering medications prescribed by physicians or other healthcare providers, recording information about the dosage and frequency of administration, and ensuring compliance with any special instructions
  • Cleaning and sterilizing equipment and work areas before, during, and after each use
  • Conducting drug screenings to ensure that individuals are not using illegal drugs or abusing prescription medications
  • Maintaining inventory records of medications and supplies to ensure adequate supply levels at all times
  • Performing clerical tasks such as filing paperwork, answering phones, and scheduling appointments
  • Restocking shelves with new merchandise, maintaining inventory levels, and pricing items
  • Verifying insurance coverage and processing payments from patients for services rendered by the pharmacy or clinic

Pharmacy Assistant Salary & Outlook

Pharmacy assistant salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $36,000 ($17.31/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $47,000 ($22.6/hour)

The employment of pharmacy assistants is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

As the large baby-boom population ages and people stay active later in life, demand for pharmacy services is expected to increase. Pharmacists will need to hire more pharmacy assistants to handle the increased workload.

Pharmacy Assistant Job Requirements

A pharmacy assistant candidate needs to satisfy several requirements for the position, including:

Education: Most employers require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and a passing grade on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) test. Some employers prefer a minimum of an associate’s degree in pharmacy technology.

Training & Experience: Pharmacy assistants receive on-the-job training from their employers after they are hired. This training helps the pharmacy assistant learn the specific procedures and practices of the pharmacy. Training often includes shadowing current pharmacy assistants and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not necessary to work as a pharmacy assistant, they can be useful in finding a job and increasing employability.

Pharmacy Assistant Skills

Pharmacy assistants need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Pharmacy assistants often work with pharmacists and other pharmacy staff members, so it’s important to be able to communicate effectively with others. You may be asked to explain medical conditions to pharmacists or to relay information from pharmacists to patients. You may also be asked to communicate with patients over the phone or in person.

Attention to detail: Pharmacists rely on the attention to detail of pharmacy assistants to ensure they fill prescriptions correctly. Attention to detail is also important when recording inventory and restocking shelves. Pharmacy assistants should be able to identify any errors in the prescription and ensure the correct dosage is dispensed.

Organization: Pharmacy assistants often work in fast-paced environments where they need to be able to keep track of multiple tasks at once. Having strong organizational skills can help you be more efficient in your work and help you keep track of the many medications and products you may handle throughout the day.

Customer service: Customer service skills can help you interact with customers and answer their questions. As a pharmacy assistant, you may be the first person a customer talks to when they call the pharmacy or visit the pharmacy in person. You can use your customer service skills to help customers find the right medication, answer their questions and help them understand their insurance coverage.

Technological skills: Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants use computers and other technology to enter patient information, track inventory and complete other tasks. Technological skills can include knowledge of computer programs, how to use a cash register and other skills that can help you work with technology.

Pharmacy Assistant Work Environment

Pharmacy assistants work in pharmacies, which are usually located in drugstores, grocery stores, hospitals, and clinics. They work under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist and are responsible for a variety of tasks, including answering customer questions, stocking shelves, and taking inventory. Pharmacy assistants typically work 40 hours per week, although some may work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Overtime is often required during busy periods, such as the flu season. The work can be stressful, and pharmacy assistants must be able to handle customer complaints and questions in a professional manner.

Pharmacy Assistant Trends

Here are three trends influencing how pharmacy assistants work. Pharmacy assistants will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Pharmacy Technicians Will Be in High Demand

Pharmacy technicians are in high demand as pharmacies continue to expand their services. This trend is likely to continue as pharmacies strive to provide more services to their customers.

As pharmacy technicians become more important, they will need to be able to work with a variety of different technologies and products. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with patients and other members of the healthcare team.

More Focus on Patient Care

The pharmacy industry is changing rapidly, as pharmacists are increasingly being asked to focus on patient care rather than just filling prescriptions.

This shift is leading to an increased demand for pharmacy assistants who can help pharmacists manage the increasing number of tasks that they are responsible for. Pharmacy assistants can capitalize on this trend by becoming experts in areas such as medication management, patient education, and insurance billing.

A Greater Emphasis on Patient Safety

Pharmacists have always been responsible for ensuring the safety of medications for their patients. However, recent events have led to a greater emphasis on patient safety, which has resulted in changes to the way pharmacists do their jobs.

Pharmacy assistants can adapt to this trend by becoming familiar with the latest safety protocols and procedures. They can also develop skills in communication and customer service, which are essential in helping pharmacists build relationships with their patients.

How to Become a Pharmacy Assistant

A pharmacy assistant career can be a great way to get started in the healthcare field. As a pharmacy assistant, you’ll learn about different medications and their uses, how to fill prescriptions correctly, and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with pharmacists and other medical professionals, which will give you a better understanding of the overall healthcare system.

To become a pharmacy assistant, you’ll need to complete an accredited training program. Many programs are available online or at local community colleges, so it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule.

Related: How to Write a Pharmacy Assistant Resume

Advancement Prospects

There are many ways to advance your career as a pharmacy assistant. One of the best ways is to get further education and training. With more education, you will be able to apply for positions that are not otherwise open to you. For example, you may be able to get a job as a pharmacy technician or a pharmacy manager. You can also advance by getting specialty certification, such as the certified pharmacy technician credential.

Another way to advance your career is to become involved in professional organizations. These organizations can offer you networking opportunities, educational resources, and job postings. They can also help you stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of pharmacy.

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