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Can A Pharmacy Assistant Work In A Hospital Pharmacy?

Updated on September 19, 2013

Getting a hospital job is pretty much the golden ticket for any Pharmacy Assistant.

Let's be realistic: Based on my experience, the most money a Pharmacy Assistant can make in a retail environment is $22/hr--And for many Pharmacy Assistants out there, to get that $22/hr would take YEARS of hard work...And maybe even an Effexor or Cymbalta prescription. Sure, $25 is POSSIBLE--I have heard of Pharmacy Assistants making that much in a retail environment--but the scope of their work often involves management of the pharmacy, sometimes taking work burdens home,while some, unfortunately, resort to shady means--like sleeping with the boss, for instance.

As such, many Pharmacy Assistants--downtrodden, depressed, and wondering how to keep food on their tables while keeping a roof over their heads--start perusing job postings--in drug manufacturing like Apotex (which has a plant in Ontario), in Insurance Claims processing (such as Blue Cross or ESI), in unlikely places such as prisons and the Military (yes, the Military does have postings for Pharmacy Assistants or Technicians every now and then.), and schools, such as Robertson College (a private career college that I personally have flak for--which I will discuss in a different post.) all in search of higher pay--and possibly, a less depressing (or enraging) workplaces.

They search, they ask, they sigh, and then they move on, until they stumble upon that posting for a position in a hospital. And then, like a zombie who FINALLY gets past a wall of Plants to get to the house (see what I did there? Plants vs Zombies, anyone?) they rejoice. "BRAAAAAAIIIIIINSSSSS!!!!"...er, I mean, "Yay! A Hospital Job Posting!"

But then, fear often takes a grip--as expected, when one tries to venture into something that they do not fully understand, or worse, know nothing about. "Will I even get hired?" "Am I just wasting my time?" "Do I even have what it takes to work at a Hospital Pharmacy?" Such and so questions will plague your mind, and many don't bother applying thereafter. Game over.

Some brave individuals--myself included--believe that the risk is totally worth taking, and thus, make the plunge--we fill the questionnaire, we attach our resume, and we fire it away. Then we get giddy, brimming with anticipation, hoping to FINALLY hand in that resignation letter you wrote MONTHS, maybe YEARS ago and give that irate, chronically-ill jerk of a customer the finger on your way out to freedom. SCREW THIS. I'm outta here. (Or in my case, the crazy urge to seize the store's PA System and deliver a scathing, CM Punk-style pipebomb)

But the hours turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months--and no response. In fact, a hospital that I applied to for a Pharmacy Assistant job in 2011 sent me a rejection letter...in 2012.

Your spirit sinks, as you pop another Effexor--maybe even an Ativan--and make your way to work, where you will have to once again give that chronically-ill jerk the fakest smile you can ever muster, only to be yelled at for nothing, while your Chesire Cat of a boss smiles at you, the kind of smile that says "Just bend over and take it, the asshole fills 13 expensive,brand-name only prescriptions here! He's good for business!"

And thus, you wonder: Why do hospitals even post positions for a Pharmacy Assistant when they don't even hire any? Do they even really hire Pharmacy Assistants?

And in my case, it was a total slap to the face, as after applying for a Pharmacy Assistant job at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and then getting the "a suitable candidate has been found" email, comes across a new posting for the same position--Pharmacy Assistant--in a span of 5 days. Nothing says "you're simply not good enough" or "Harjinder Barjinder has a cousin from India who he wants to get a job for here, and since Harjinder Barjinder is a current employee, we will hire Harjinder Barjinder's cousin from India instead." quiet like that.

So do hospitals hire, or need, Pharmacy Assistants in Canada? YES, they do.

Can I eventually work as a Pharmacy Assistant in a hospital? YES, YOU CAN...with a caveat.

In Alberta, for instance, Pharmacy Assistants working in hospitals in a Pharmacy Technician role have been given 5 years to obtain their Regulated Pharmacy Technician certification, or lose their jobs. Many in the industry believe that this will create a mass exodus of hospital workers, who many believe will be too old to compete outside of the hospital industry (since many don't have any retail experience, and will lose out on jobs from the big box retailers.)

Given that explanation, YES, you CAN work as a Pharmacy Assistant in the hospital--but under borrowed time, Best you get in the hospital and then make the jump as soon as staff gets cut.

But there is an elaborate system in place in hospitals--heck, almost EVERY unionized work environment in Canada--that limits the amount of applicants, and an almost disgusting way of selecting who they even interview, much less offer the job to.

Here's a hint: It BARELY involves credentials.

But going back to our original question: YES. Yes, you can work as a Pharmacy Assistant at a hospital. It is POSSIBLE.

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