There are only six pharmacists per 10,000 people. We’ve now reached a healthcare workforce shortage of 7.2 million worldwide. In fact, the shortage could increase to 12.9 million by 2035.
Instead of letting the gap grow, consider becoming an over-the-counter (OTC) pharmacy assistant. As an OTC, you can experience job satisfaction and help patients in need. You could discover a fulfilling, rewarding career path as a result.
Not sure if you’re interested in pharmacy jobs? Here’s everything you need to know about becoming an OTC assistant. After reading this guide, you can make a more informed decision regarding your career path.
You could even become part of the solution to ending the shortage of medical professionals!
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about becoming a pharmacy assistant today.
What Does an OTC Do?
First, let’s discuss more about the OTC career path. What does an over-the-counter pharmacy assistant do, exactly?
A pharmacy assistant is a crucial member of any pharmacy team. In fact, they’re often the face of the pharmacy. You’re not limited to working in a hospital setting, though.
Instead, you could work in a supermarket pharmacy, clinic, or hospital pharmacy as well.
The job flexibility available can ensure you find the perfect job setting for your unique needs.
Pharmacy assistants usually work under the direction of a pharmacy technician or registered pharmacist.
Your job responsibilities can vary each day as well. For example, you might help:
- Use a cash register
- Ensure the pharmacy is compliant with regulations and policies
- Keep an eye on the prescription filling process
- Liaison with healthcare providers
- Stay up-to-date with the latest Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland news and regulations
- Take in deliveries
- Stock pharmacy shelves
- Maintain electronic patient information
- Order pharmacy materials
- Package prescriptions
- Prepare billing information for medications
- Pass prescription to the pharmacist to fill
- Make labels for prescription packages
- Refer patients to the pharmacist for medical advice
- Sell over-the-counter medications
- Answer questions face-to-face or over the phone
- Complete pharmacy paperwork
- Deliver prescriptions (within a hospital setting)
- Dispense medications (once the pharmacist has filled them)
- Maintain stock lists and order items as needed
- Maintain drug stock (under the pharmacist’s supervision)
This is only a brief overview of some of your potential responsibilities. You’ll never feel like every day repeats. Instead, each day will feel like a new experience.
Meanwhile, you can assistant patients and play a part in improving their health and well-being.
Working With the Pharmacist
As an over-the-counter pharmacy assistant, you’ll assist the pharmacist. However, you’re not allowed to handle medication directly. If you do, it’s only while under the supervision of a registered pharmacist.
For example, you can help the pharmacist prepare and dispense a prescription. Then, you’ll pass the prescription onto the patient. With that in mind, the OTC is usually considered the face of the pharmacy.
You’ll get to interact with many different people each day.
If you decide to pursue pharmacy jobs, it’s important to pay attention to detail. The registered pharmacist will likely get busy. Errors often occur as a result.
For example, you might need to pour and count medications. It’s important that this task is completed with the utmost accuracy.
You might fill a prescription order into the computer, too.
You can help ensure everything is accurate, minimizing the likelihood of errors.
The pharmacist will carry out any necessary remedial work, while you complete administrative tasks.
Grow Your Skill Set
Before you start pursuing pharmacy jobs, it helps to expand your skillset. Here are a few essential skills you’ll need as an OTC assistant.
1. Customer Service
When a patient first enters the pharmacy, it’s likely your face they’ll see. You’re responsible for engaging with each customer. You’ll need to listen to their concerns and do what you can to resolve their problems.
You might help:
- Cash-out prescriptions
- Locate over-the-counter medications
- Answer basic inquiries
- Refer patients to the pharmacist as needed
It’s important to remain friendly, open, and engaging when interacting with customers. You’ll also need to remain calm and patient. Having compassion can ensure the best experience for the customer.
2. Data Entry
As an OTC assistant, you’ll also need to receive and confirm prescription orders. You’ll need to understand digital data entry as you start receiving e-prescriptions, too. It’s your job to locate these orders and identify their customer’s insurance coverage.
Some customers arrive with written prescriptions. You’ll need to obtain, confirm, and record their information in the computer system as well. Any errors can become dangerous for the patient.
3. Tech Savviness
You might need to develop your technology and computer software skills before becoming an over-the-counter assistant. As an OTC, you’ll need:
- Word processing knowledge
- Data-based software skills
- Basic computer proficiencies
Otherwise, you might struggle to manage the billing, file insurance claims, print labels, and input medical information.
4. Attention to Detail
Remember, attention to detail is a must, especially when processing prescriptions. It’s your job to ensure medications are dispensed quickly and accurately. Any discrepancies can have dangerous consequences for the patient.
If the patient receives the wrong medication or dosage, it could lead to severe or fatal side effects.
5. Communication Skills
You’ll need to communicate effectively with your colleagues and customers. It helps to become an active, empathetic, and compassionate listener. You’ll also need to remain professional and courteous during these interactions.
6. Social Skills
Pharmacy jobs also require a lot of social skills. These skills can ensure the pharmacy is run smoothly and efficiently. You’ll work alongside your team members to maintain a positive, proactive environment.
The Benefits of Becoming an OTC Assistant
The median salary for a pharmacist is about €68,500. The pay is only one small benefit, though. Here are a few other reasons you should consider becoming an OTC assistant.
1. Healthcare Is Continuing to Grow
The healthcare field is constantly growing. As career fields expand, new positions open up as well.
Remember, there’s a shortage of healthcare professionals around the globe. By becoming a pharmacy assistant, you won’t have to struggle to find a job.
Instead, you can find pharmacy positions anywhere. You can choose where you want to work and even travel to find a position you love.
2. There Are Options Available
With so many pharmacy jobs available, you’ll also have your pick at where you want to work.
Most people think of pharmacy assistants and immediately picture a retail pharmacy. That’s only one potential work environment, though. You can also choose to work in a:
- Mail-order pharmacy
- Corrections facility
- Nursing home
- Hospice care facility
- Nuclear pharmacy
- Compounding pharmacy
The choice is yours! Getting to choose your work environment can play a big part in your job satisfaction. If one environment isn’t the right fit, you can choose another.
Either way, you have the option to explore pharmacist jobs based on your distinct needs.
3. You’ll Make People’s Lives Better
One of the best parts of working as an OTC is the chance to help patients.
You’ll impact the lives of everyone you meet. Getting to work one-on-one with customers can increase your job satisfaction. You can see what a difference you’ll make firsthand!
You can help customers during check out, answer their questions, and help them find the resources they need. If they require advice about their medications, you can direct them to a pharmacist. Either way, you’ll play a big part in their lives.
Even if you don’t realize it, becoming an OTC assistant can make a big difference to the world.
4. Take on Various Roles
Remember, you’ll never get stuck completing the same task day in and day out. Instead, becoming a pharmacy assistant means you’ll wear different hats. You’ll move constantly and take on different responsibilities as needed.
Taking on different roles will ensure no two days are the same. You won’t have to worry about getting bored on the job.
5. Discover Advancement Opportunities
About 63% of Irish workers feel disengaged by their jobs. By becoming an over-the-counter assistant, you won’t have to worry about getting bored with your career.
Instead, becoming a pharmacy assistant is only the first step on your career path. You can use your role as an assistant to gain experience. You’ll gather hands-on knowledge in your field.
Then, you can use what you learn to branch out within the healthcare industry.
You’ll also work alongside a pharmacist, ensuring you have a mentor while on the job. You can learn from their years of experience within the industry. Finding a mentor can help you find new opportunities within the healthcare field.
As an OTC assistant, you’ll play a major role on the team. You’ll complete essential tasks to improve the team’s overall efficiency. With your help, the entire pharmacy team can remain organized and efficient.
Becoming an OTC Assistant: Exploring New Jobs in This Amazing Field
Are you interested in pursuing a career as an OTC assistant? Keep these amazing benefits in mind. By pursuing this career path, you could set your career up for long-term growth and success!
Want to learn more about the opportunities available? We can help.
Discover your first step toward a fulfilling career! Apply today to get started.