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Main Programs and Courses Health Care Programs Medical - Pharmacy Assistant

Medical - Pharmacy Assistant

Please check with the campus of your choice for program availability.

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**

*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.


This program is 51 weeks in length.
  • 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
CES4 / Career and Employment Strategies

This course builds on the skills learned in the Student Success Strategies course or its equivalent. 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 identifyemployment opportunities. Self-assessment during this course allows students to identify their personal skills that are transferable to the work place and to describe these skills to a prospective employer. Students may be videotaped during a mock interview and will participate in the analysis of their performance in the “interview”.

PHA299 / Pharmacy Assistant Practicum

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; 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

PHA260 / Pharmacy Assistant Integration Practice

In this final integration practice module, students are provided
with the opportunity to practice and understand the basic
technical duties required to work as a Pharmacy Assistant in a
community pharmacy in Canada.

Students will participate in duties and tasks as Pharmacy
Assistants working in a community pharmacy. Their daily tasks
will include receiving prescriptions, patient and prescription data
entry, generating labels, retrieving or compounding medications,
filling each prescription, leaving prescriptions to be checked,
returning stock to inventory, filing completed prescription hard
copies, storing prescriptions for pick-up and delivery.

PHA250 / 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.

PHA240 / Compounding

This module is designed to give the student the skills and
knowledge that are required to develop a career as a Pharmacy
Assistant. Students will become efficient at preparing
pharmaceutical preparations and the necessary documentation
to meet and maintain standards. Emphasis is on calculations in
this module.

The students will become proficient at the use of equipment and
supplies used in compounding. A variety of dosage forms will
be reviewed with emphasis being placed on the knowledge and
skills that are needed to accurately prepare prescribed

The students will review and practice the various mixing
techniques and NAPRA standards of non-sterile compounding
and learn the necessity of compounding medications.

Students are expected to calculate, measure, weigh and mix.
Proper and timely cleaning and maintenance of compounding
equipment and area will be stressed.

PHA230 / Community Pharmacy

This course is designed to teach students about the various
aspects of community pharmacy from the viewpoint of the
pharmacy assistant. The course covers the dispensing process
and dispensing techniques, pharmacy business practices, third
party billing, and blister packing.

Students learn about pharmacy business practices both in the
dispensary and front store. Students learn to complete many of
the technical tasks associated with the day-to-day operations of
a pharmacy. Students read and interpret a prescription, review
calculations, enter prescriptions into the manual or
computerized system to be filled, and complete the appropriate
filling process including packaging. 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
pharmacy inventory.

Students will be learning a minimum of 200 commonly used
Canadian drug names and reviewing their use.

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS)
objectives will also be covered.

An Introduction to Kroll, pharmacy software, and prescription
entry is explained, demonstrated and practiced.

PHA220 / 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.

PHA210 / Pharmacology: Diseases and Drugs

This course explores the basic principles of pharmacology, with
an emphasis on drugs used for prevalent diseases in the
community setting.

Students will learn the pharmacokinetic processes that affect
medications and the body. Students will learn to identify drugs
by their therapeutic use.

Students will learn about conditions that affect the different body
systems and how these conditions are treated with prescription
and over-the-counter medications. Commonly prescribed
Canadian generic and brand name drugs will be discussed
along with dosage forms, indications, contraindications, side
effects, drug interactions and other special administration
considerations and dispensing tips.

PHA200 / Introduction to Pharmacy

Introduction to Pharmacy provides students with an
understanding of the pharmacy profession.

The history of medicine and pharmacy will be reviewed, focusing
on the evolution of Pharmacy roles, especially Pharmacy
Assistant. The profession of pharmacy as it is today will be
examined, and the structure of the various types of pharmacies
in our society will be explored. Students are introduced to the
important roles of all pharmacy personnel including the role they
will play in a career as a Pharmacy Assistant.

Students become familiar with the Federal and Provincial Laws
that govern pharmacy in Canada.

This module provides the necessary knowledge and skills to
identify a valid prescription, patient profile and label, and
introduces the process of filling a prescription. Transcription of
Latin abbreviations and physician directions are reviewed. Drug
nomenclature is introduced along with the use of required
resources to research drugs. Students will learn both Federal
and Provincial drug benefit plans along with other private thirdparty
insurance companies and their billing procedures.

PHA100 / Anatomy and Physiology

This course is designed to provide students with an opportunity
to discover and understand the basic Anatomy and Physiology
of the body systems and to give them the knowledge of various
disease states of these body systems.

Students are introduced to the basic anatomy and physiology
of the major body systems and their components. They are
made aware of how a body and its multiple parts function
together by working as one unit. They are introduced to the
effects that disease states have on the body whether they are
viral, fungal, bacterial, hormonal or other and will begin to
understand the role that medications play in treatment.

MEC4 / Medical Emergency and First Aid Procedures

This course provides students with the knowledge and skills that are required to recognize and prevent medical and dental emergencies within a medical/dental office. It will prepare students to assist the physician/dentist 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
-Roles of individuals in emergencies
-CPR and first aid training
-WHMIS certification
(*) This one-week course may extend beyond 20 hours due to first aid and WHMIS training on specific days maybe being fullday hours.

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.
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.
In the first level of the course, students will learn the medical
language including:
Basic structure
-Objectives in studying the medical language.
-Word analysis: combining forms, suffixes, and prefixes.
-Practical applications
-Pronunciation of terms
Terms pertaining to the body as a whole
-Structural organization of the body: cells, tissues,
organs, systems, body cavities
-Abdominopelvic regions and quadrants
-Positional and directional terms
-Planes of the body

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
SSS4 / Student Success Strategies

The purpose of this course is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and study techniques to help foster effective learning and a positive educational experience. This course explores many different theories on learning and studying and how these theories can be applied to each student’s individual studying methods in order to develop a method that is both effective and efficient. Effective study habits and productive note-taking are key topics in this course, as well as the importance of values and goals. Through active participation in learner-centred activities, students will explore and practice strategies for setting personal goals, prioritizing tasks, managing time, and managing the stress that arises in school or work situations. This course will also equip students with a sound understanding of matters related to finance, credit, and debt and the critical implications they have on our lives. Students taking this course will complete the Enriched Academy program, which provides comprehensive coverage of financial and money management skills that will allow them to better save, budget, and manage their money and financial situations.

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