A pharmacy is only as effective as its individual employees. Drug script processing and drug procurement can be helped or hindered based on who is working as a pharmacy assistant.
In a pharmacy work environment, there is a hierarchy of roles. On the top of course, is the pharmacy manager, who secures future business for the pharmacy. The licensed pharmacist/s will manage the dispensation of the most serious drugs and speak to patients regarding the use of their prescription drugs. Then there are RPhTs who deal with maintenance drug procurement. Finally, there is the pharmacy assistant. If you look at the typical duties of each element of a pharmacy personnel team, you will see a common thread of extra assistance that allows each pharmacy employee to do their job.
A Supporting Role
Though you aren’t at the top of a pharmacy’s chain of command by any means, every task undertaken by a pharmacy assistant is foundational to the overall function of a pharmacy. Pharmacy assistants are expected to maintain the inventory of drugs in a pharmacy. If, for example, there are not enough flu shots for incoming patients at the height of flu season, then patients will go elsewhere, negatively impacting their impression of the pharmacy and bringing business to other competing pharmacies.
The pharmacy assistant must keep the digital patient records organized so that pharmacists and registered pharmacy technicians can find accurate information about the prescriptions taken by each patient. If a prescription were to be missing from these digital records, patients could be inadvertently given prescriptions that conflict with an existing drug, causing serious negative drug interactions.
Pharmacy assistants work at the cash register, to cash out customers’ prescription purchases. If they can’t keep up with the pace of customer purchases, patients might become frustrated and cause the pharmacy to lose business. The cashier must keep calm and composed, as well as being polite when interacting with the general public.
Pharmacy assistants must also be vigilant to keep the premises of the pharmacy clean and organized. While it may seem innocuous at first, this aspect of pharmacy operations affects the speed in which pharmacists can work through incoming prescriptions. Pharmacists need to always be able to locate drugs for their patients. In addition, pharmacy assistants need to be around to guarantee that temperature sensitive prescriptions are not left unrefrigerated. Finally, the pharmacy work environment needs to be kept sanitary, for the sake of all patient and staff health.
“With great power comes great responsibility”
Whether you credit French philosopher Voltaire or Uncle Ben from Spiderman for this quote, you can’t argue its application to the role of a pharmacy assistant! All of the duties listed above take effort and care to enact. Your actions as a pharmacy assistant can either positively impact or negatively impact a whole host of people:
- patients (in person and over the phone)
- the pharmacy manager
Your decision to work hard, stay focused, and represent the pharmacy in a positive light can make all the difference when you take on a new pharmacy job, whether it’s full-time, part-time, or locum work. We urge you, and all of our Candidates, to put their best effort into every job they take. Your effort in a pharmacy assistant position will help to sustain the operations of one of society’s most essential services!