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Main Programs and Courses Health Care Programs Pharmacy Assistant

Pharmacy Assistant

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

Why a Pharmacy Assistant?


Help patients daily by providing assistance and preparing medications to aid their wellbeing. Pharmacy assistants play a vital role in pharmacies, as they assist pharmacists with the day-to-day operations in running a pharmacy, including customer service and interacting with clients, sterilizing products, mixing compound medications, and more.


Pharmacy Assistant Diploma Program


Vancouver Career College offers pharmacy assistant courses that cater to the needs of community and retail pharmacies. Learn about pharmacology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy software and office computer applications, compounding, sterile products and aseptic techniques.


The Pharmacy Assistant program will prepare you for an indispensable career in preparing medications, mixing compounds, and updating client information with KROLL software.


Before you graduate, and under the direct supervision of a pharmacist, you will put these skills into practice during a real-world practicum placement within a community or retail pharmacy setting.


In addition to the Pharmacy Assistant diploma, graduates of this program will also receive certification in First Aid Level 1 and CPR.


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 36 weeks in length.
  • Drug Stores     
  • Department Store Pharmacies     
  • Grocery Store Pharmacies     
  • Health Clinics

Find out why small class sizes are best

Our grads discuss what made their experience at Vancouver Career College outstanding.

Program Courses
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.

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
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

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.
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.

MAA102A / Medical Language II: Body Systems

This second course of three parts on medical language focuses on the various body systems. Subjects include:
-Digestive system: anatomy and physiology, pathology and pathologic conditions.
-Additional suffixes and digestive system terminology: laboratory tests and clinical procedures, abbreviations, and practical applications.
-Urinary system: anatomy of the major organs, physiology (how kidneys produce urine), urinalysis, pathologic terminology, laboratory tests and clinical procedures, and practical applications.
-Female reproductive system: organs, menstruation and pregnancy, pathology, clinical tests and procedures.
-Male reproductive system: anatomy, pathologic conditions, and laboratory tests/clinical procedures.
-Nervous system: general structure; neurons, nerves, and glial cells; the brain; the spinal cord and meninges; pathology.
-Cardiovascular system: blood vessels and the circulation of blood; anatomy of the heart; physiology of the heart; blood pressure; and pathology.
-Respiratory system: anatomy and physiology of respiration; pathology; clinical procedures.
-Blood system: composition and formation of blood; blood clots; pathology.
-Lymphatic and immune systems: lymphatic system; immune system; pathology.
-Musculoskeletal system: bones; pathology; joints; muscles.
-Skin: anatomy of the skin; accessory structures; pathology.
-Sense organs: the eye; errors of refraction; pathology; clinical procedures; the ear.
-Endocrine system: thyroid gland; parathyroid glands; adrenal glands; pancreas; pituitary gland; ovaries; testes. 

PHA101 / Introduction to Pharmacy

This course 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, legislations, 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

This course 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

This course 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

This subject 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

This course 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. Student will learn basic principles of infection control. Students will also learn aseptic techniques in preparation of pharmaceutical products. Students will be introduced to basic microbes such as bacteria (pathogenic and non-pathogenic), viruses and fungus and the diseases they cause. You will be introduced to the terminology used in microbiology and how it applies to pharmacy. You 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. 

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”.

PHA199 / Pharmacy 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 outcome. 

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