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The pharmacist is an expert in drug treatment. The practice of pharmacy goes far beyond dispensing prescription drugs. One of the most available members of your health care team, the pharmacist works to ensure that you get the best results from your drug treatment. Pharmacists make sure you receive the safest and most effective drug treatment. To find out more, read What can a pharmacist do for you?
The pharmacy team includes pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and sometimes support staff and students. You may see pharmacy teams at:
Pharmacists are one of the most available health care providers. As experts on drug treatment, they can help you and your family with your questions and concerns about medications.
To find out more, see Your Pharmacist and You on the Canadian Pharmacists Association website.
Pharmacists oversee pharmacy technicians in community and hospital pharmacies. Technicians prepare prescriptions and assist with many routine duties in the pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians are able to receive prescriptions from patients, enter prescriptions into the computer, arrange payment from patients' drug plans, and keep and maintain drug inventories. This allows the pharmacist to perform more patient-directed activities. To find out more, see How is the role of the pharmacy team changing in British Columbia?
Most people that work as pharmacy technicians have trained at a community college or learned on the job. The college programs for pharmacy technicians teach students about:
The community college program also includes practical training in a pharmacy.
The role of the pharmacy technician is continuing to expand and technicians will soon be able to prepare prescriptions independently. To find out more, see How is the role of the pharmacy team changing in British Columbia?
In order to practice pharmacy in Canada, a pharmacist must have a university degree in pharmacy. The degree requires four to five years of full-time studies. Pharmacy students learn about:
The university programs also include practical experience in community and hospital pharmacies. In B.C., a pharmacist must also pass written and practical tests after completing their pharmacy degree. Evaluations are repeated every few years to make sure that the pharmacist continues to have the knowledge and skills to safely practice pharmacy.
Some pharmacists will continue their studies by obtaining additional practical experience (e.g., a residency in either community or hospital pharmacy) or obtaining an advanced degree. Advanced study options include a Masters of Science (MSc), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD).
Pharmacists in British Columbia are involved in a number specialized health services, such as:
The pharmacy team is involved in all aspects of drug treatment in the hospital. As part of the health care team, the pharmacist:
The pharmacy team ensures that:
Besides working in community pharmacies, hospitals, and long-term care homes, pharmacists work:
In British Columbia, pharmacists help choose the best drugs for coverage in the provincial drug program (PharmaCare) and make sure the drugs are used in the best way through education, policy development and evaluation. To find out more, see About the Pharmaceutical Services Division.
Most community and hospital pharmacies have pharmacy technicians who help prepare prescriptions and assist with many routine duties in the pharmacy. The role of the pharmacy technician is continuing to expand and technicians will soon be able to prepare prescriptions independently. This will allow pharmacists to spend more time talking to patients and helping them get the best drug treatment.
The role of the pharmacist has greatly changed over the last 100 years (see What can a pharmacist do for you?). In 2009, pharmacists in British Columbia began renewing and adapting prescriptions and giving vaccinations. To find out more, see Your Pharmacist and You on the Canadian Pharmacists Association website.