Pharmacists play an important role in the healthcare industry and must possess excellent interpersonal skills and extensive knowledge of medicine and its uses. At present, there are about 33,000 licensed pharmacists in Canada.
Some of them work in hospitals and community pharmacies while others work for the government and universities.
Pharmacists are highly respected healthcare professionals. They work with the patients, their families, and the health care team. Nowadays, professional pharmacists have an increasing amount of responsibilities.
Becoming a Pharmacist in Canada
Pharmacy Degree from an Accredited University
The first step in becoming a pharmacist in Canada is to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. At present, prospective pharmacists may choose from the ten universities offering pharmacy degrees in the country.
Each university has its own unique prerequisites for prospective pharmacy students. Typically, they require five years of post-secondary education in order for students to qualify for a degree in pharmacy.
Some schools require applicants to take a one to two-year general science course before they can be admitted to the program. Other schools may require more basic science. The bachelor’s degree in pharmacy is considered to be an entry-level degree for the profession that may be completed in four to five years. Pharmacy degree holders may also study for a postgraduate degree.
Pharmacy professionals obtain their licenses at the provincial level. Each province may have different requirements. However, apprenticeships and internships are typical. Students who complete a pharmacy degree need to undergo practical training for several months under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. These programs allow students to apply the theories they have learned in the classroom and develop their skills.
Legal and Language Exams
Legal and language exams depend on the province where the prospective pharmacist wishes to work. Universities tackle these issues in undergraduate programs. However, some provinces require a different exam for jurisprudence.
These legal exams are designed to test prospective pharmacists on how knowledgeable they are when it comes to dangerous substances that come with legal requirements. Fluency in the English language is also crucial. Meanwhile, Quebec requires pharmacists to be fluent in French.
The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada offers the national exam twice every year. Passing this exam is the final step for pharmacy students. Individuals who are about to take the exam should have already completed the pharmacy degree.
Meanwhile, pharmacists who are not Canadian residents or citizens should also take the same exam with similar requirements. However, they should have attended the International Pharmacy Graduate Program or the Canadian Pharmacy Practice Program.
Specializations and Areas of Concentration
Dual Pharmacy Degrees
Students may opt for dual degrees in addition to traditional pharmacy degrees. They may also work towards the Pharm. D. This means that pharmacy students have a choice to study for other degrees such as public health, business administration or law simultaneously.
Non-Traditional Pharmacy Degrees
There are some schools in Canada that offer other degrees in pharmacy. Students who are interested in both pharmacy and research may study either pharmaceutical science or medicinal chemistry.
Pharmacy students may take elective courses in the fields that they are interested in. Many universities in Canada offer elective courses that focus on geriatrics, natural medicine or pharmacy management.
Pharmacy Degree Program Accreditation
Prospective pharmacists should ensure that they only choose accredited programs in Canada. The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs is responsible for regular accreditation reviews.
They ensure that all pharmacy schools adhere to the standards set by the organization. These standards were set in cooperation with practitioners, academics, employers, regulators, and stakeholders.
The standards are updated on a regular basis to ensure that all programs can keep up with the changes in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. The accreditation process is quite intensive. Students who go to universities with CCAPP accreditation are getting the best quality pharmacy education.