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Pharmacists play an important role in the success of Alberta's health care system. Pharmacists promote health and wellness by providing services and programs that prevent and treat disease, dysfunction and disorders, and by making appropriate drug therapy and non-drug decisions.
Pharmacists not only compound and dispense the drugs that physicians prescribe to patients; they also understand the function of medications. Pharmacists are the drug experts. They advise clients and counsel patients on the proper use and adverse effects of medications. Pharmacists may also conduct or assist in drug-related research.
Pharmacists can also recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) product for pain relief, demonstrate the proper use of an asthma inhaler, and counsel patients on diabetes management. Clients can seek advice from their pharmacists about how to store and take medication, what foods or activities to avoid, and what to do if a dose is missed. As such, pharmacists act as the point of contact between physicians and patients and monitor to ensure the safe and effective use of medications.
Pharmacists usually work in pharmacies, health care facilities, and research institutions. They may work in health care teams with other health professionals, assisting in drug-related research and other activities such as teaching and the provision of health-related programs. In Alberta, pharmacists may obtain additional authorizations to prescribe certain drugs and blood products, and to administer drugs, vaccines, and blood products by injection.
Alberta offers pharmacists and other health professionals a wealth of opportunities both challenging and rewarding, as well as a high standard of living. Alberta's health care delivery system is one of the best in the world and one of the provincial government's top priorities is to provide competitive job opportunities and advanced approaches to delivering health care services.
Registered pharmacists in Alberta have the chance to work independently or as members of a health care team. They have the opportunity to work directly with individuals, families, and groups in a variety of exciting settings such as clinic, hospitals, communities, and government services.
Pharmacists may work in:
- community pharmacies
- hospitals and related health institutions
- health research
- industrial settings
- post-secondary institutions
- health regulatory, advocacy and other professional organizations
- pharmacy administration
Pharmacists in hospital settings may specialize in fields such as oncology, cardiology, psychiatry, infectious disease, critical care, pediatrics, or geriatrics.
Pharmacists in community settings usually start as salaried employees but, with experience, may eventually become managers, partners or owners of pharmacies. Teaching and research positions generally require further education.
In Alberta, 80 per cent of people employed as pharmacists work in the Retail Trade industry.
If you would like more detailed information about working as a pharmacist such as duties, working conditions, salaries, educational requirements and personal characteristics, you can read the career profile for pharmacists in the Alberta Learning Information Service's occupational information website, OCCinfo.
You may also wish to read the Canadian Pharmacists Association's description of the Role of the Pharmacist.
Want to know what it's like to work as a pharmacist in Alberta, from real people in real work situations? Watch the Alberta Learning Information Service's video on pharmacists.
Registration with the ACP is mandatory in order to provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public.
Registered members, who are authorized by the College, provide restricted activities specified under Alberta's Health Professions Act and the Pharmacists Profession Regulation. Only registered members may call themselves pharmacists, clinical pharmacists or druggists. Registered members of the College are responsible and accountable to the public for ensuring that their practice meets the legislative requirements and standards for the profession. As this is a regulated profession, it is mandatory that members meet identified competency requirements and undergo continued competency training.
For information about pharmacist registration process with the Alberta College of Pharmacists (ACP) and working in Alberta as a pharmacist, contact:
- Website: http://www.pharmacists.ab.ca/
Internationally educated pharmacists need to register with the Alberta College of Pharmacists in order to practice in Alberta. Applicants will first have to complete the two-step Pharmacist Document Evaluation Procedure, before you can write the Pharmacist Qualifying Examinations with the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC).
To understand the steps for becoming accredited in Alberta, view the Pharmacist Accreditation Process (PDF).
Pharmacists in all disciplines work in unionized and non-unionized environments. The private centres are non-unionized and the public centres (e.g. hospitals) are unionized. For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.
According to the 2009 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Pharmacists earned an average annual salary of $78,959 to $93,576, with the minimum rate of compensation of $36.31 per hour and the maximum rate of $66.00 per hour. The average wage was $46.65 an hour.
Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses unrelated to production, and other forms of compensation.
Entrance requirements include:
- a letter stating the applicant's reasons for wanting to enter pharmacy, and
- a pre-professional year* of post-secondary study that includes at least six units of course weight in general chemistry, organic chemistry and English, and three units in biology, biochemistry, statistics and calculus.
*The required pre-professional year is not included in the four-year B.Sc. program in pharmacy so a total of five years of university education is required.
For current, detailed information about admission requirements, course requirements, please consult the university calendar or website. Admission to the B.Sc. pharmacy program is competitive.
University transfer programs are offered by post-secondary institutions throughout Alberta. Admission requirements vary but generally include a competitive average in English Language Arts 30-1 and four other 30-level subjects (Pure Math 30 or equivalent, Chemistry 30 and Biology 30 may be required to gain admission to the required courses listed above). Students are strongly advised to check the Alberta Equivalency Transfer Guide to ensure that the courses they choose to take will be accepted by the University of Alberta.
For current information about programs, admission requirements, and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.
Foreign-qualified pharmacists and related professions may be required to undergo upgrading and bridging programs, such as the Bredin Institute Innovative International Pharmacy Bridging Program. The Bredin Institute also offers assistance in accreditation and preparation for the PEBC Qualifying and ACP Jurisprudence Examinations.
As an Alberta pharmacist you must maintain and enhance your professional knowledge and skills through continuing education activities. The ACP has information regarding ongoing continuing education programs through their RxCEL Learning Portfolio for pharmacists. The Continuing Professional Development Plan also has useful information for pharmacists in their Navigating Your Professional Development Guide.
The College also requires regulated members to complete Continuing Competence programs to ensure and enhance regulated members' competence and provision of professional services.
Alberta Learning and Information Service (ALIS) is the provincial gateway to help Albertans plan and achieve educational and career success! It provides information for career planning, post-secondary education and training, educational funding, job search, labour market trends, and workplace issues. The following two websites are part of the information resources provided by ALIS.
- EDinfo: Information about programs of study and distance learning programs offered by post-secondary educational institutions in Alberta.
- OCCinfo: Information about occupations (types of work) in a format called occupational profiles. There are more than 500 occupational profiles in OCCinfo. Each profile presents information about an occupation under the following headings: Duties; Working Conditions; Personal Characteristics; Educational Requirements; Employment and Advancement; Salary and Other Sources of Information.
Alberta Pharmacists Association (RxA) is a voluntary association formed to represent the professional and economic interests of pharmacy and pharmacists across Alberta.
The Association of Compounding Pharmacists of Alberta advocates for, promotes, and preserves the historical art of compounding, consistent with professional standards of practice.
Canadian Pharmacists Association advocates for pharmacists and supports its members to advance the profession and enhance patient outcomes.
Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (Alberta Branch) CSHP is the national voice of pharmacists committed to the advancement of safe, effective medication use and patient care in hospitals and related health care settings.
Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) is a labour union representing more than 14,000 paramedical technical, professional, and general support employees in the public and private health care sectors of Alberta.
The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) is the national certification body for the pharmacy profession in Canada. PEBC is a non-profit organization with more than 40 years of experience in assessing the qualifications and competence of candidates for licensing by provincial pharmacy regulatory bodies. The rigorous certification process administered by PEBC ensures the quality of pharmacists entering practice and is a vital component in the delivery of safe and effective health care to Canadians.
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Date Updated: Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:32:12