Canadian Pharmacy School
by: Alison Cole
Pharmacists in Canada are now moving over and going beyond routine duties like sitting behind the counter, collecting drugs and counting them. In fact, the industry is now witnessing a paradigm shift and pharmacists are at the centre of this new development in that country.
Canada is now grooming a new generation of pharmacists who are now even counseling patients and giving them advice on the best and cost effective drugs. This new dimension to the career of a Canadian pharmacist has been attributed to the developments in the industry as a whole and the need to adapt to new market trends. Pharmacists are now being trained to adopt a patient centric approach, which also includes taking over some of the duties, hitherto performed by doctors.
Budding Canadian pharmacists are also being taught to identify, mitigate and prevent problems related to medication. While the field of pharmacy is ever changing and evolving, pharmacists are now required to be on their toes all the time and adapt to changes in all the three modes of drug sale including online, mail order and conventional methods. Pharmacy schools are now giving special training in these aspects. A pharmacist should learn to cope with the bulk of information flowing in or he could be overwhelmed just by the number of new drugs that are hitting the market every year.
Special emphasis is also placed on learning about the laws and regulations that are in place in Canada and the prevalent public health policy at the provincial or national government levels. Pharmacists are also required to liaise with community support groups and with ailment related groups like the local associations like the local lung association and local diabetics association. This mandates the knowledge of public relations work not to mention possession of good communication skills. The curriculum followed by Canadian pharmacy schools has evolved well in the last few years to cover these emerging areas and to provide students with the edge needed to obtain employment after obtaining their degrees.
Drug manufacturers have been roped in by many reputed pharmacy schools to aid pharmacy students in choosing their streams from a wide range of options. Pharmacists are also being guided to grow into the excellent community pharmacists who go on to become the first link in the health care system. They are expected to play a significant role in ensuring that the patients receive the best drug therapy. Pharmacists can also specialize in fields like oncology, infectious disease, psychiatry, etc. Specializations help them in playing their role in various health care teams.
The industry also wants pharmacists in areas like clinical research, marketing and public relations. They are also being involved in preparing information materials related to drugs and in educating pharmacists, physicians and patients.
As of now, 9 universities in Canada are having pharmacy schools. The admission requirements usually vary from one university to another. After obtaining a Bachelors degree in pharmacy, one has to pass a national board examination through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada. After this, one can also get some practical experience through an internship program. Different provinces in Canada have put forth different requirements for becoming a licensed pharmacist.
In 2002, the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) began recognizing the accreditations awarded by the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) for programs leading to a baccalaureate degree in pharmacy.
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