A prescription for career success: Helping internationally-trained pharmacists on the path to working in Canada

Published March 3, 2022.

Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes   

In summary:  

  • Job prospects for pharmacists are in-demand in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
  • The pharmacy licensure process can take at least two years or longer to complete.
  • It is important to understand the provincial requirements in the province or territory where you wish to work.
  • Begin your licensing process through Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada or through the Quebec regulatory body.

The COVID-19 pandemic put pharmacists in the spotlight as they supported testing and vaccination efforts across the country.

By taking on these additional responsibilities, pharmacists played a key role on the frontlines of health care, keeping our communities safe and healthy during challenging times. The pandemic increased the demand for pharmacists across Canada but it is just one contributing factor. The federal government expects pharmacists to continue to have strong job prospects in the years to come as the Canadian population ages increasing the need for medication to treat health conditions. As well, retirements are expected to account for nearly half the pharmacy job openings in the next decade. Windmill Microlending’s Trending Jobs Report has also identified pharmacist as an in-demand career, especially in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

For international pharmacy graduates (IPGs), this means career opportunities. From community pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to health care facilities, the career potential for internationally-trained pharmacists is great, but the path to become licensed in Canada is a long and complex journey. The entire process is estimated to take at least two years and can cost thousands of dollars.

Pharma Gateway

The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) operates the Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada, a central point of contact for international pharmacy graduates who wish to practice in this country, except in Quebec.

To help IPGs on their path to accreditation, Windmill connected with representatives from the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) to find out the steps they recommend internationally-educated professionals take to get licensed as quickly as possible and put their skills and training to good use.

If you are an internationally-trained pharmacist looking to learn more about the steps needed to become licensed to work in Canada, visit Windmill’s Educational Pathways.

Step 1: Get to know the process.

Become thoroughly familiar with the information and processes on the Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada website. The pharmacist education and training requirements for each province and territory are outlined, particularly around bridging programs and language requirements. There are very specific language requirements in order to practice in Canada and candidates need to be aware of them so that they can demonstrate their competencies in that area.  

Step 2: Look for opportunities to become familiar with Canadian pharmacy workplaces.

Volunteer or seek out mentoring opportunities at a Canadian pharmacy or pharmaceutical company. A number of helpful educational resources can be found on the Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada site.

Step 3: Start your PEBC assessment and thoroughly study for exams

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) is the national certification body for the pharmacy profession in Canada and evaluates certain documents to ensure your international degree in pharmacy is acceptable. After registering on the Pharmacists’ Gateway site, which is the required first step for licensure in all provinces, except Quebec, applicants must complete the PEBC document evaluation and successfully pass a number of examinations. If you are in Quebec, there is another pathway which does not include enrolment in Pharmacists’ Gateway or the PEBC evaluations and examinations. 

Find NAPRA’s full list of pharmacy regulatory bodies, responsible for licensing of IPGs in each province and territory, here.

Are you an internationally-trained pharmacist looking to find out if you are eligible for a low-interest loan from Windmill Microlending? Take our two-minute eligibility quiz to find out.

Categorized in: Career Success and Planning, Accreditation and Licensing, In-demand Jobs, Education and Training,