Duties and Responsibilities of a Pharmacist Assistant
A Pharmacist assistant usually work in hospitals and community settings under close supervision of a qualified pharmacist. The duties as well as responsibilities of the job vary according to the level of professional training, thus different job tittles may apply. The different job tittles in most health care systems include healthcare assistant, pharmacy assistant, and dispenser. The most commonly used titles are assistant technical officer and pharmacy assistant.
Pharmacy assistants perform numerous tasks that are associated with preparation and dispensation of prescribed medications to patients. They may also be called upon to provide medical advice for non-prescription medications, manage inventory and track supply orders and medications, and carry out follow ups on medication payments and other medical administrative duties. Depending on the organizational structures of a health care system, the help of these technical officers may be needed in supervising the operational management of health facilities such as dispensaries, counseling patients in relation to proper use of prescribed medications, and performing clerical duties. They may also be required to perform customer service functions such welcoming clients and ascertaining their needs, responding to inquiries and answering phone calls.
Pharmacist Assistants should have the ability to perform without close supervision in carrying out routine medical tasks while at the same time maintaining high levels of concentration. In relation to this, they are expected to have patience, excellent communication skills, and a caring attitude so as to handle emergencies. The nature of the job requires pharmacy assistants to work in shifts that include holidays, weekends, nights, and sometimes under very stressful conditions. The work is therefore very demanding as it calls for efficiency and accuracy, thus pharmacy assistants are on the move most of the time. The professional requirements for becoming a pharmacist assistant vary depending on the health care system, but more often entail good skills and knowledge in pharmaceutical services acquired through formal professional training. Basically, high school completion is the first benchmark for being a pharmacist assistant. However, working in this field does not require a degree. The training programs are generally offered by approved technical and community medical colleges. The programs may sometimes be offered by proprietary schools, hospitals, the military, and through correspondence schools such as distant and online learning. Main areas of professional training may include but not limited to pharmacy and healthcare ethics, hospital and retail pharmacy practice, relevant laws, human diseases and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacotherapeutics, alternative medicine, infection control, customer care, and management of inventory.
Pharmacist Assistants, apart from mandatory college training, must undergo practical training, which entails completion of an internship for a given period of time in a pharmacy. It is a general a condition that must be fulfilled before gaining employment as an assistant technical officer. Many employers prefer and do recommend that they be certified with local or national pharmacy boards. The certification process includes passing a practicing standard examination and payment of registration fees. In countries such as the United States, private organizations have been known to offer voluntary certification, but in most countries, they must be registered with their national regulatory authorities.