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Why Should You Work In A Hospital Pharmacy?

Updated on September 19, 2013

Why Do You Want To Work In A Hospital Anyway?

Typically, many Pharmacy Assistants in the retail industry are often making between $10-$16/hr. on average. Some, such as myself, managed to breakthrough the $20 window in our careers in a short amount of time (although I eventually had to settle for less after.) However, not many Assistants can do what I did, and many slave for their masters for YEARS before even moving up a quarter, perhaps a dollar if you're lucky.

Majority of hospitals start Pharmacy Assistants at $17/hour a year ago, which now sits at $18.75/hr--which is a nice jump for many Pharmacy Assistants out there. Granted, some rural areas in some provinces may not be able to offer that much, but for Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton (to name a few) that is the standard base pay.

That $18.75/hr then jumps up, as per collective agreement. In fact, the last posting I saw for a Pharmacy Assistant position lists the salary cap at $21.78. Not bad for a job that required, on average, 9 months of schooling.

Reason #1 - The MONEY.

Aside from a great increase in pay, hospital pharmacy--with the exception of the outpatient pharmacy--is usually based in the basement of the hospital, where the equipment used to package and prepare medications, as well as the medications, are located. As such, there will be NO customers swearing at you, threatening to kill you, stab your tires, or screaming at you for not releasing his Oxycocets early. You just have you, the drugs, the machinery, and your fellow staff members to talk to. And when it's time to call it a day, there won't be customers banging on the pharmacy window, pleading to refill Viagra and buy a box of condoms (true story)

Reason #2 - Peace of Mind. Which will hopefully enable you to get off the anti-depressants you're probably on.

Aside from the money and peace of mind, hospitals also offer great benefits, pretty much like the same basic benefit package you may currently be enjoying at your current job, but with perks such as discounted products at retail stores, discounts at many retailers, etc. But one of the best benefits of working at a hospital is that you will RARELY work night shifts--if any,at all. Each floor in a hospital has something called a Ward Stock, that is filled with any and all drugs each floor will possibly need if an emergency does occur--stuff like suppositories, IV bags, painkillers, etc. From what I know, most hospital shifts end at 5-6 P.M.--while many retail shifts end at either 10 or 11 PM. Because who wants to get out at 10-11 PM at night? Especially on a Friday night?

Reason #3 - Indirect Benefits

For many cultures, to say that one works in a medical position at a hospital is a source of pride and admiration. In fact, many 3rd world countries like India, China, and the Philippines still extol the honor that one brings if one works as a doctor. While you may not be a doctor, just being to say that you work in a hospital while the rest of your peers are slaving their butts off to customers and slave driver bosses will surely give you even a little reason to be proud of working at a hospital.

Reason #4 - Pride and Admiration Of Your Colleagues

Finally, your worth as an employee won't be dedicated by how good you are in customer service. You won't get fired for swearing at a customer (since there are no customers). You won't be given a warning letter because a customer complained about how you touched her hand by accident, and how she doesn't like her hands being touched by a stranger (again, true story.). You won't feel how I felt--like a glorified, pill counting cashier. In fact, you'll get to focus more on what your job truly is--a technical job. You'll prepare IV products (or assist Pharmacy Technicians who do). You'll refill ward stocks, restock pill dispensing machines, prepare injectables, blister packs, maintain some pharmacy equipment, etc. The sense of self-worth, in doing what your position truly entails (instead of always bending backwards and often taking daily verbal abuse for the sake of business) can be truly rewarding

Reason #5 - A True Sense Of Self-Worth

Now, those 5 reasons alone should motivate you to pursue a job in a hospital pharmacy. But I believe the true purpose, the true reason you should get a hospital pharmacy job is this.


Hospitals will give you an amazing array of opportunities. Want to expand your knowledge about medications? Talk to a hospital pharmacist--odds are, you'll learn about many drugs that you've never even heard of when you were working in retail. Want to eventually earn your Regulated Pharmacy Technician title? Some hospitals may offer tuition incentives (for the cost of the exam, etc.) Or better yet, if you already graduated school as a Regulated Pharmacy Technician, you get first dibs when an internal posting for a Pharmacy Technician position eventually opens up (And those positions start at a whopping $28.61 per hour!) With recent regulations--for instance, in Alberta--that require all Pharmacy staff working at hospitals to all be Regulated Pharmacy Technicians within a few years or risk losing their jobs, many current employees with no credentials may end up just retiring--leaving an opening for you to sweep in and take the vacant job! Some even use their employee status to help other get jobs in the hospital, improving their lives and those who they see fit to recommend

Opportunity, above all, should be the driving force behind your desire to work in a hospital pharmacy. Everything else, no matter how good it sounded, couldn't compare to the emotional and professional growth when you put opportunity as your top priority.

Would You Consider Working At A Hospital Pharmacy?

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You wont see this in a retail pharmacy...
You wont see this in a retail pharmacy...


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    • TheYoungDad profile imageAUTHOR

      Retired Pharmacy Tech 

      3 years ago from Canada

      1.)YES! Especially during the summer months when students are freed from school, many pharmacy owners like to employ students--sort if like a ¨pay it forward¨ kinda thing, plus it ensures that they get to train a potential employee. 2.)I don't know as I never worked in a hospital--competition from internal politics, ruled by unions, is way too fierce! 3.)Nope, and believe me when working you'll memorize drug names very easily due to the redundant nature of retail pharmacy, well, any pharmacy depending on your location--amoxicillin, clindamycin, biaxin, ranitidine, crestor, atacand, metformin very common to name a few.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Very informative websites. Is there a lot of competition between pharmacist students and pharmacy technicians? Is the environment competitive and de-motivating working in hospital? Do you need to memorize a lot of drug names?


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