Pharmacy experts answer common questions about licensing, accreditation and career success in Canada
Published March 6, 2023.
Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes
- Pharmacists are greatly in demand across most parts of Canada due to ongoing labour shortages.
- The licensing process for pharmacists in Canada differs from province to province but can be completed successfully when an international pharmacy graduate (IPG) is equipped with the right information.
- Many retail pharmacies expect you to know their computer and software systems, and many seek candidates with injection training. Understanding these Canadian nuances can be a distinct advantage for IPGs in the Canadian job market.
Pharmacists play a critical role in providing safe and effective medication therapy to patients. In Canada, there is currently a shortage of pharmacists, which is impacting the healthcare system's ability to meet the increasing demand for medication-related services. One solution to address this shortage is to hire international pharmacy graduates (IPGs).
IPGs are highly trained professionals who have completed their pharmacy education and training outside of Canada. To practice as a pharmacist in Canada, IPGs must undergo a rigorous assessment process to ensure that they meet the same standards as Canadian-trained pharmacists. The assessment process includes evaluating their education, training and language proficiency, as well as, passing a series of exams.
The ongoing labour shortage of pharmacists in Canada has significant implications for patient care and community health and wellness. Patients may experience delays in receiving their medications or accessing medication-related services, which can have negative health outcomes. Hiring IPGs can help address this shortage and improve patient care. By hiring IPGs, the Canadian healthcare system can benefit from their diverse skills and experiences, which can enhance the quality of care provided to patients. Furthermore, hiring IPGs can also help fill pharmacy positions in remote and underserved areas where it may be difficult to recruit Canadian-trained pharmacists.
To learn more about the steps involved in the Canadian pharmacy licensing process, read a recent post from the Windmill Microlending blog.
Windmill Microlending’s IPG clients often have a number of questions about starting their pharmacy careers in Canada and about the Canadian licensing and accreditation processes. That’s why the Windmill blog contacted Dr. Negeen and Hooman Katirai, co-founders of PharmAchieve.
Dr. Negeen Katirai (left) and Hooman Katirai (right) are co-founders of PharmAchieve, a Windmill Microlending partner supporting international pharmacy graduates (IPGs) to achieve career success in Canada.
A partner of Windmill’s, PharmAchieve is a Canadian government-certified institution that offers pharmacy qualification preparatory courses to IPGs including Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) prep courses (providing support for the Evaluating Exams - EE, Multiple Choice Question – MCQ and Objective Structured Clinical Examination – OSCE components), as well as, accredited continuing education courses. We asked Negeen and Hooman to share common questions and answers that can help IPGs on their licensure and career success journeys in Canada. Here is what they shared:
Q1) Can I start the Canadian pharmacist licensing process before I arrive in Canada?
Negeen and Hooman from PharmAchieve say: The EE and MCQ (the first of the two exams run by the PEBC) that all international pharmacists must take to be licensed in Canada can be administered remotely at your home or any internet connected computer in a private room. This means you can take these exams in your home country. Many IPGs struggle to support themselves in Canada because they are unemployed but simultaneously can support themselves while in their home countries. By timing the move, and by taking online preparatory courses accessible in your home country before coming to Canada, you can reduce the financial resources needed to support yourself while waiting to get licensed in Canada.
Q2) Where do I want to get licensed as a pharmacist in Canada?
Negeen and Hooman from PharmAchieve say: Different provinces have different licensing requirements. Some have a mandatory bridging program requirement. Some have internship requirements. Ontario is probably the fastest province in which to get licensure because if you pass your qualifying exams on the first try, there is no bridging program requirement and no internship.
Q3) How much can I expect to be paid in Canada?
Negeen and Hooman from PharmAchieve say: Using the Government of Canada's Salary Range data you can research the prevailing pharmacist wage information for different provinces and territories across the country. There is a significant variation in pay based on your location in Canada. Typically, the further you are from the centre of a large city, the higher the wage.
Q4) Can I work as a pharmacy assistant while seeking to get licensed in Canada? And what advantages does this offer?
Negeen and Hooman from PharmAchieve say: Working as a pharmacy assistant can provide you with valuable experience that will help you pass your licensing exams. As an international pharmacy graduate (IPG), you may speak a language other than English which can be an asset in some community pharmacy settings enabling you to serve populations that speak that language. You can also gain practical experience and more quickly learn about Canadian standards, practices and patient engagement norms.
Q5) How can I enhance my Canadian employability?
Negeen and Hooman from PharmAchieve say: Most retail pharmacies expect you to know their computer and software systems, and many seek candidates with injection training. Most Canadian graduates receive this while in school but many IPGs lack this training. Kroll is the most common pharmacy software in Canada. By completing accredited certification courses related to Kroll and/or Injections, you can increase your chances of being employed both as a pharmacy assistant and fulfill one of the legal requirements to deliver injections as a pharmacist. PharmAchieve offers these courses and Windmill Microlending delivers microloans to help pay for the costs.
Q6) Windmill Microlending asks: Who is teaching your Canadian pharmacy qualifying exam preparatory course?
Negeen and Hooman from PharmAchieve say: Not all preparatory courses are the same. Some do not employ pharmacists as instructors but 50 per cent of the grade of the Evaluating Exam (EE) is in "pharmacy practice." Windmill Microlending works with PharmAchieve because it is the only PEBC preparatory course offered by a government-certified educational institution. We are also the only course provider that produces courses that are externally accredited by the Canadian Council for Continuing Education in Pharmacy (CCCEP).
More helpful information for international pharmacy graduates (IPGs) can be found below:
For more information on how you, as a skilled immigrant or refugee, can bring your skills to the Canadian job market and achieve your full career potential, download Windmill Microlending's free Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide.