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Main Programs and Courses Health Care Programs Medical - Pharmacy Assistant

Medical - Pharmacy Assistant

The Medical-Pharmacy Assistant program at Vancouver Career College will provide you with the skills and resources necessary to work in the health care field.

The Medical Office Assistant portion of the program will provide you with the skills and knowledge required to be a practicing medical office assistant. You will learn medical terminology, office and clinical procedures, billing and electronic health records, transcription and more.  

The Pharmacy portion will prepare you for an exciting and challenging career as a pharmacy assistant. You will learn the technical, clerical, and medical skills needed to work in the pharmaceutical industry.  

You will also receive training in Standard First Aid with CPR & AED, and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. Before graduation, you will participate in a four-week practicum to gain practical work experience in your specialization of choice.

Admission Requirements

High school graduation or equivalent* OR mature student status**.

Criminal record check (in accordance with the Criminal Records Review Act).

*From an English language teaching institution.
**19 years of age upon starting classes, and pass college’s admissions test.

This program has been approved by the registrar of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

  • Community / retail pharmacies 
  • Health food/products businesses 
  • Internet pharmacy companies
  • Physicians’ and dental offices 
  • Health care clinics
  • Health care specialists’ offices

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Program Courses
MAA140 / Medical Transcription
Transcription is integral to the efficiency of the medical doctor’s practice, providing the documentary records on patient cases that the physician is required by law to maintain. Students will become familiar with the various letters and reports routinely dictated by medical professionals by being introduced to the process of medical transcription using actual dictated medical data, in different accents. With an emphasis on speed and accuracy, students utilize transcription equipment and a variety of reference materials to learn the proper formatting, sentence and paragraph structure, punctuation, spelling, and grammar used in reports.
SSS4 / Student Success Strategies
Students will gain a better understanding of themselves through an exploration of their personal attributes, transferable skills and learning styles. This course will introduce techniques for time, conflict, and stress management and develop interpersonal communication skills. Fundamental study and motivation skills will be covered, preparing students to excel in their program of choice.
PD-SFA-CPRC / Standard First Aid with CPR-C and AED
This two-day course suited for the general public and workplace and meets first aid requirements for Canada Labour Code Standard First Aid, and Licenced Child and Adult Care Facilities. This course is suited for police, first responders, lifeguards, ski patrollers, caring citizens and families with children.
MPA199 / Medical - Pharmacy Assistant
This practicum will place students in actual workplaces related to their field of study where they are expected to act as a regular employee for the set time periods in order to gain the valuable “real world” experience, often sought by employers who are hiring. Students are encouraged to find their own work experience for the area they wish to specialize; however, once placed, continuation in the placement is a mandatory diploma requirement. This practicum is an unpaid work experience. Students and practicum hosts are provided with a practicum “package” that outlines the expectations of both the student and the host that need to be met to have a successful outcome.
MEP4 / Medical Emergency Processes
Medical Emergency Processes provides students with the knowledge and skills that are required to recognize and prevent medical and dental emergencies within a pharmacy/medical/dental office. It will prepare students to assist the physician/dentist/pharmacist in administering immediate care for the client in the medical office environment. Students also participate in CPR-first aid training. Lectures, reading assignments, and laboratory projects will provide a basic understanding of medical emergencies and the role of the office assistant in assisting with the administration of care used in the office. This information permits the student to interpret and relay information and to communicate to the health care team and emergency workers. Subjects include typical medical emergencies and roles of individuals in emergencies.
PHA101 / Introduction to Pharmacy
Introduction to Pharmacy is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the pharmacy profession. This subject will introduce the student to the important role that they will play in a career as a pharmacy assistant. They will also become familiar with the Canadian pharmacy organizations, standards of practice, legislation, and ethics. The student will first review pharmacy history to see how pharmacies in general and their role as an assistant have changed throughout the centuries. The profession of pharmacy as it is today will be examined from the context of the role of the pharmacy personnel and the structure of the various types of pharmacies that are in our society. Students are then introduced to both federal and provincial drug benefit plans along with other private third party insurance companies and their billing procedures. Lastly, Introduction to Pharmacy provides the necessary requirements to make a prescription, patient profile, and label valid and the process of filling a prescription.
PHA102 / Fundamentals of Pharmacology
Fundamentals of Pharmacology will introduce students to the basic principles of pharmacology. Topics to be covered include receptor mechanisms, kinetics and the actions of drugs and toxins at the cellular, organ and organism level. The course is designed to introduce the student to the fundamental concepts of pharmacology, dosage formulations, and routes of drug administration and OTC medications. It will enable the student to understand the role of drugs in individualized patient care and will introduce the student to the recognition and association of generic and trade names of common and/or important medications, in community and hospital pharmacy practice. Introduced with this are the usual clinical applications, adverse effects, contraindications, common dosage regimens, and administration considerations. Students will learn various mechanisms of drug action and understand pharmacokinetic processes that affect drug/body interaction. They will learn the procedure for administration of pharmacologic agents as well as learning to identify major drugs by drug class. Students will know drug indications, therapeutic uses, side effects, administration routes, and common dosages.
PHA103 / Pharmaceutical Calculations
Students will learn about ratios, fractions, and other math related topics and how they play a major part in calculating different prescription and medication dosages. Students also learn about math calculations routinely used in IV preparation, a requisite skill for employment in hospital pharmacies.
PHA104O / Community Pharmacy
Community Pharmacy is designed to teach students about the various aspects of community pharmacy from the viewpoint of the pharmacy assistant. The course covers pharmacy business practices, introduces students to third party billing, and teaches dispensing techniques. Students learn about pharmacy business practices both in the dispensing and front store. Students learn to complete many of the technical tasks associated with the day to day operations of a pharmacy. Students are introduced to a prescription and its various parts. They learn how to read and interpret a prescription, enter it into the manual or computerized system to be filled, and the appropriate filling technique. Pharmacy equipment and dispensing techniques will be demonstrated within the course with the opportunity for students to practice as well. The course exposes students to general principles of effective and efficient inventory management. Theory and practice will educate students about control and maintenance of community inventory. The course also covers the objectives of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation by educating students on how to prevent accidents and illness in the workplace. Students also learn to plan and implement Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHIMS) programs in pharmacy settings.
PHA105O / Compounding
Compounding is designed to give the student the skills and knowledge that are necessary to develop one’s career as a pharmacy assistant. Students will become efficient at preparing pharmaceutical preparations and the necessary documentation to meet and maintain standards. The student will review and practice the various mixing techniques and standards of commercial compounding and learn the necessity of compounding. The student will become proficient at the use of balances to accurately weigh ingredients to compound. A variety of dosage forms will be reviewed with emphasis being placed on the knowledge that is needed to accurately prepare compounds. The student will be expected to calculate, measure, and weigh. Proper and timely cleaning and maintenance of compounding equipment and area will be stressed.
PHA106 / Pharmacy Software Fundamentals
Pharmacy software applications are necessary in both the retail and institutional setting. The students are required to efficiently use the KROLL pharmacy software in all aspects of the daily processes that take place in a pharmacy. The more knowledgeable the student is with respect to the detail involved in entering and processing prescriptions, the more valuable they will be to the employer. Many pharmacies are actively using the KROLL pharmacy software. It is a user-friendly program with a variety of options that help deliver optimal care to the patient.
PHA107 / Microbiology and Sterile Products
Microbiology and Sterile Products is designed to provide students with a chance to learn the basic principles of microbiology and the reasons why reducing microbial contamination in a pharmacy are necessary. Students will learn how to control microbial contamination by using both chemical and physical means. They will learn basic principles of infection control and aseptic techniques in preparation of pharmaceutical products. Students will be introduced to basic microbes such as bacteria (pathogenic and nonpathogenic), viruses and fungus and the diseases they cause as well as to the terminology used in microbiology and how it applies to pharmacy. Students will learn how to control microbial contamination in the pharmacy environment and apply these techniques and standards to the preparation of intravenous admixtures and parenteral compounding. Students will become familiar with the different equipment used in parenteral compounding such as vials, ampoules and needles. Students will learn how to manipulate these products and using the proper technique.
ITC4 / Introduction to Computers
This course is a broad-based introduction to using a personal computer. It teaches the fundamentals of an operating system and the most popular application software including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. You will also learn about the Internet, Web browsers, electronic mail and antivirus software. The course is based on the Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft office 2013 and a variety of popular software programs for the Internet-related and security-related applications
CES4 / Career & Employment Strategies
This course builds on the skills learned in the Student Success Strategies course. It provides information on how to use the communication skills learned in order to make a successful presentation to a prospective employer. Students also learn how to uncover the hidden job market and identify employment opportunities. Self-assessment during this course allows students to identify their personal skills that are transferable to the workplace and to describe these skills to a prospective employer. Students are videotaped during a mock interview and participate in the analysis of their performance in the “interview”.
MAA160 / Clinical Procedures
Students will learn techniques and procedures used to prepare and administer basic procedures and tests utilized in medical offices.
MAA150 / Electronic Health Records
Implementing electronic health records (EHRs) in Canada is a pan-Canadian initiative involving many stakeholders involved in the delivery of health care. Electronic health records (EHRs) are secure and private lifetime records that describe a person’s health history and care. They are made up of information from a variety of sources, including hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacies, and laboratories. This information is critical for treatment and is accessible to health care professionals. B.C. is participating in a ten year plan led by the Federal Government's Canada Health Infoway to create a safer and more efficient healthcare system by creating electronic health records (EHRs). In the course, students are introduced to work with simulated health records and learn the ins and outs of the system as they apply in a medical office. It provides a thorough understanding of EHR tasks and functional benefits that is continuously reinforced by actual EHR experiences. Students are updated with the latest EHR rules, regulations, and innovations, electronic orders and results, workflow examples, and billing codes.
PD-WHMIS / WHMIS
This course/session provides an introduction to the Health Care Assistant program by providing an overview of the courses, work experience components, schedule, and expectations of students. The course also provides an overview of the provincial curriculum’s values, beliefs, and principles; purpose; and learning outcomes. Guest presenters (e.g. graduate of the HCA program, employer of HCAs) will be available for presentation, questions and answers, and the steps required to work as a health care assistant in any public health setting in BC – including registration with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.
MAA110 / Health Care Communication and Interpersonal Skills
This course is specially designed for the new health care professional. In any business or interpersonal contact, an impression of a person forms in the first 10 to 15 seconds, so it is crucial to the success of that relationship. The importance of the ‘customer’, and of customer relations, to business success is examined in this course, including through case studies and role playing. Students learn relevant techniques in human behavior and how they may be applied to improve customer (patient) relations in the medical office. Learning basic communication skills, especially related to the medical field, will assist the student in dealing with all kinds of patients. Understanding cultural differences and appreciating diversity will add another dimension in how to deal with patients and provide safer health care delivery in the medical office.
MAA130 / Medical Billing I
All businesses need to invoice for services rendered and collect their revenues as quickly and efficiently as possible. Doctors’ revenue comes primarily from the provincial medical insurance scheme. Students will be introduced to the medical billing procedures in accordance with the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) requirements and create medical billing data using the BC Medical Association Guide to Fees and ICD-9 Diagnostic Codes. WorkSafe BC, the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC), and medical legal billing requirements are also discussed. Students also learn to perform medical billing data entry and preparation of billing statements using the Regent Smart series application, as well as understanding the transmission and receipt of data from the BC MSP office in Victoria. In the second section of this course, students will create patient databases and complete medical office billing procedures using the current software. Students will become familiar with all aspects of billing, including MSP, ICBC, WorkSafe BC, personal, and medical legal billing. They will also learn to schedule appointments, generate day sheets, and transmit claims. Course time is also dedicated to tutorials to learn the MSP system.
MAA101 / Medical Language I: Foundations
Medicine, like other professions, has its own language. Students will learn to work with the specialized terminology of medicine, including the pronunciation and spelling of terms to describe medical circumstances and situations. Students will learn through descriptions, illustrations and exercises to identify the major anatomical features and systems of the body and the common pathologies, which can adversely affect these systems.
MAA102 / Medical Language II: Body Systems
This second course of three parts on medical language focuses on the various body systems. Subjects include: the digestive system; additional suffixes and digestive system terminology; urinary system; male and female reproductive systems; nervous system; cardiovascular system; respiratory system; blood system; lymphatic and immune systems; musculoskeletal system; skin; sense organs; and endocrine system.
MAA103 / Medical Language III: Special Topics
The third and final course on medical language focuses on special topics including: cancer medicine (oncology); radiology and nuclear medicine; pharmacology; and psychiatry.
MAA120 / Medical Office Procedures
This course presents complete and accurate coverage of the basic skills needed to perform effectively as a health office administrative assistant (MOA) in today’s fast-changing work environment. Study includes the use of real-life examples and scenarios to make key concepts come alive. Students learn about ethics, the transition of offices towards electronic environments, as well as discussions of future trends towards the role of technology in the field of medical office administration. From the knowledge and skills learned in this course, students also begin one of their term projects – a medical office procedure manual – the ‘general’ section completed in this course, and an advanced practice, comprehensive manual that is constructed throughout the entire program and completed after the final practicum-work experience.
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