A pharmacist is a medication expert.  At minimum, pharmacists have a degree in pharmacy and might continue their education to receive a professional doctor of pharmacy degree. Anyone working as a pharmacist in British Columbia must be registered with the College of Pharmacists of BC in order to deliver pharmacy care. Before applying for a license with the College of Pharmacists of BC, pharmacists must also pass a national qualifying exam and a second exam that covers legal, ethical, and professional issues.

Only a pharmacist who is registered with the College of Pharmacists of BC can call themselves a “pharmacist” in B.C.

What does a pharmacist do?

Pharmacists make sure that the medications you take are safe and effective. They also make sure that you understand what the medication does, how it works, and if there are possible side effects when taking your medication. Pharmacists need to know if you are taking any non-prescription drugs, even natural health products, because these could affect how your prescribed medication will work.  They also need to know if you have any allergies. Pharmacists can also help you with non-prescription drugs like those you can take to stop smoking.

How do pharmacists keep their skills up to date?

Pharmacists must renew their registration with the College of Pharmacists of BC every year. As part of the renewal process, they must complete a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education, and at least 5 of those hours must be accredited learning. Pharmacists are reviewed at their pharmacy every six years to make sure they meet College standards.

What happens when I first visit a pharmacist?

A pharmacist must follow several safety steps when filling your prescription. They need to confirm who you are and will ask to see two forms of identification. A pharmacist – or a pharmacy technician – will then enter your prescription information into the pharmacy computer. The pharmacy computer is connected to all community pharmacies in B.C. The pharmacy computer houses confidential information about your medication history, which helps your pharmacist make informed decisions about your health care. You can ask for a copy of your patient information at any time. A pharmacist will review your prescription to make sure the information is complete and that the medication, strength and dose is right for your health condition.  They will also make sure that your new prescription works well with any other medications you might be taking, and that you are not allergic to the medication. The pharmacist will also give you information about the new medication, including when and how to take it, when you can expect it to begin to work, information about refills, and several other important things.

How can I find a pharmacist?

You can bring your prescription to a pharmacy anywhere in B.C. In hospitals, pharmacists often work at the patient’s bedside to ensure patients receive the best possible medication. The College of Pharmacists of BC has a list of pharmacists and the pharmacies where they work on their website www.bcpharmacists.org

How do I pay for a pharmacist?

Many services provided by a pharmacist are free. Professional costs associated with visiting a pharmacy (including dispensing fees) and the cost of the medication may vary depending on your drug plan coverage.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from a pharmacist?

As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your pharmacist. If you think that has not happened, please contact:

College of Pharmacists of BC
Complaints Line 778.330.0967 or toll free 1.877.330.0967

Where can I find more information about pharmacists?

Visit www.bcpharmacists.org


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Group of doctors talking about a patient's care. Patient is in the foreground.

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