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How to become a pharmacy support worker

You can become a pharmacy support worker in the NHS by applying for a vacancy on our recruitment website.

What is a pharmacy support worker?

Pharmacy support workers are a key part of the pharmacy team. They order, prepare and help to dispense medicines.

They work in different areas, including:

  • distribution centres
  • hospital wards
  • hospital dispensaries
  • NHS contracted community pharmacies
  • care homes
  • primary care
  • GP practices in some Health Boards

Pharmacy support workers are also known as pharmacy assistants or dispensing assistants.

Starting your career as pharmacy support worker

Choosing subjects at school

To become a pharmacy support worker, you need a good standard of education. Useful subjects include:

  • English
  • Maths

Speak to your guidance teacher about subjects offered at your school.

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some healthcare experience by doing a work placement or volunteering. You’ll get training, increase your knowledge, and learn new skills. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland. 

Get to know the role

As a pharmacy support worker, you’ll use the pharmacy stock control and dispensing system to send and receive stock, update records and prepare labels for medicines. You will also carry out administrative tasks, including answering enquiries by telephone or in-person.

Within a GP practice environment, you may undertake searches within the practice system and some basic analysis.

Pharmacy support workers are normally supervised by pharmacy technicians or pharmacists.

Your main tasks include:

  • order medicines
  • carry out routine stock checks
  • pre-pack, assemble, and label medicines
  • process orders and prescriptions
  • sell over-the-counter medicines
  • record data for analysis

You’ll need these skills:

  • caring for people
  • communicating with people
  • listening
  • numeracy
  • organisation
  • persuasion
  • problem-solving
  • relationship-building

You could work with

  • pharmacists
  • pharmacy technicians
  • other pharmacy support workers
  • GP practice staff
  • other healthcare professionals

You could work in:

  • a hospital
  • community pharmacies
  • distribution centres
  • GP practices
  • care homes
  • prisons

Learning and development

Pharmacy support workers in NHS hospitals need to complete the Mandatory Induction Standards. This is for healthcare support workers.

Once employed as a pharmacy support worker, you’ll need to undertake:

You might not necessarily need to complete the full award, instead, only completing units relevant to your area of practice.

You’ll have the opportunity to work closely with pharmacy technicians and pharmacists. Once you become experienced, you may apply for a pre-registration trainee pharmacy technician post if you meet the essential criteria. This could lead to a career as a pharmacy technician.

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