harmacy practice and services have always been evolving and this is a particularly exciting time to join the field of healthcare in the UK. Embarking on a new career can be a rewarding experience because it’s a fresh start for learning and growth.
Are you interested in working in the healthcare field? Are you interested in making a difference to the lives of people by helping them overcome sickness and attain wellness? Do you like meeting people, understanding their problems and finding solutions?
If the answer to the questions above is ‘yes’, then pharmacy may be the right setting for you to work. Opting to work as a pharmacy assistant is the first step towards enjoying a rewarding and fulfilling career in the field of healthcare. It’s good to have an idea of what to expect while working in a pharmacy, this way you will know what to expect when you start work.
Before you start preparing for your stint as a pharmacy assistant, you should be aware of the important features and benefits of this career.
- Earning potential: You may be aware that you can easily earn between £11,000 and £16,000 per year (or more as you gain experience). What’s more, many pharmacies will be willing to offer overtime to workers who wish to work longer hours or over the weekend. This way, you can supplement your basic income. Hospitals and 24-hour pharmacies may require assistants who are willing to work shifts or at night. However, as you grow and move up the ranks, you can expect to enjoy higher levels of autonomy over your work schedules.
- Career outlook: Moreover, you will also enjoy several avenues of growth and advancement as you gain experience and receive training in various skills. For example, you could consider becoming a pharmacy technician (if you are interested in dispensation and compounding of medication), a pharmacist (if you are interested in further studies and working closely with the medical profession) or a pharmacy marketing executive (if you prefer selling pharmaceutical services).
- Opportunity to work alongside the pharmacist and learn skills on the job: Most assistants are trained on the job and will receive training as they learn how to dispense drugs, interpret prescriptions and provide refills to patients. For those who are interested in advancing their career and working towards higher qualifications in pharmacy, this is an excellent opportunity to learn basic techniques of dispensation and the finer points of providing medication therapy to patients.
If you’d like to continue as a pharmacy assistant, working under the expert supervision of seniors will help you reinforce your own skills and train in different aspects of pharmacy operation. If the pharmacist is busy with medication reviews, etc., you can be confident of discharging your duties with confidence. You will learn to be accurate and pay close attention to detail and improve your concentration levels.
- Keeping yourself updated: Working as a pharmacy assistant helps you keep abreast of the latest medical terminology, modern equipment and new products that get introduced from time to time. For example, most assistants working in UK-based pharmacies are now familiar with electronic prescription systems and are able to use automated medicine dispensers with precision and accuracy.
- Hospital pharmacy job roles may require more intensive training in medicine dispensation: Assistants who work in hospital pharmacies may be required to fill in a higher number of prescriptions and prepare more dispensations compared to assistants working in retail pharmacies. The type of medications that you deal with may be different from a retail pharmacy and the inventory management may be more complex.
Working as a pharmacy assistant helps you gain experience and legitimises your knowledge of the skills that you require for further career advancement. The experience also helps you prepare for the rigorous preparation for a pharmacist qualification at a later stage (if you desire). As the population in the UK ages, there is a growing demand for healthcare and pharmaceutical requirements and the growth in the field is not slated to slow down anytime soon.
If you’re starting out in your career, you are likely to find several opportunities and jobs that correspond with your expectations. The best part is that you do not have to wait to study further and obtain formal certifications in order to become a pharmacy assistant. You can start seeking job placements when you have a basic knowledge of arithmetic, computers and communication skills.
Pharmacy assistants are expected to perform duties and responsibilities which are more specialised in nature as medicinal items cannot be treated on par with other commercial commodities. Working as a pharmacy assistant helps you enjoy a career associated with a dynamic work environment, steady salary levels and most importantly, the chance to make a difference to the lives of others.