Retail Pharmacy Assistant Program Curriculum

The Retail Pharmacy Assistant program was developed by professionals to make sure you learn practical skills for a real-world career. Our focus is to prepare you to graduate ready to get a great job in a growing field.

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Lesson Group 1: Orientation: Ashworth College Career Program

Learning at Ashworth  

The goals and values of Ashworth College; time management; creating a realistic weekly and monthly study schedule; the nature and purpose of assessments; how to study effectively to prepare for and take an online examination; developing the skill sets necessary for success in the twenty-first century.

Allied Health Careers  

Introduction to the basic operations of allied health careers and the legal and ethical issues you may encounter while working in the many different venues available for these fields.

Lesson Group 2: Introduction to Pharmacy

History of Pharmacy  

The origins of pharmacy and the development of the pharmacy profession up to the twentieth century; the evolution of both the pharmacist and the pharmacy technician; the history of legislation that affects the practice of pharmacy; roles and duties of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Terminology 

The benefits of familiarization with medical terminology; common medical terms and symbols used in pharmaceutical documentation and prescription orders.

Regulatory Laws and Professional Standards 

The evolution of pharmaceutical practice into a professional career; major professional pharmaceutical societies; the need for pharmacy regulation and standard practice; regulation of controlled substances.

Lesson Group 3: Drug Classification and Pharmaceutical Calculations

Trade Names and Generic Names 

The difference between trade and generic names of prescription drugs; process for creation of drug names; FDA evaluation of trade names; top 200 generic and trade names.

Dosage Forms and Routes of Administration 

Oral/enteral administration, including pills, tablets, capsules, softgels, and liquids; inhalational administration, including aerosols; parenteral administration, including subcutaneous, intramuscular, and intravenous routes; syringes and needles; large- and small-volume parenteral solutions; topical administration, including patches, creams, foams, gels, lotions, and ointments; and administration by insertion, including suppositories.

Pharmacologic Classes 

World Health Organization (WHO) and chemical name drug classifications; United States Adopted Name (USAN) Council stems for generic terms.

Systems of Measurement 

Roman numerals; Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature scales and conversions; household measures; the metric system; household and metric conversions.

Ratios, Proportions, Decimals, and Percents 

Numbers as both symbols and measurements; explanations of and worked examples for ratios and proportions; relationship among and conversions for decimals, fractions, and percents.

Lesson Group 4: Pharmacology

Antibiotics, Antifungals, and Antivirals 

Examples of antibiotics, antifungals, and antiviral drugs encountered in the pharmacy, their mechanisms of action, and their respective names, classes, and categories.

Anesthetics, Narcotic Pain Relievers, Psychiatric Drugs, and Drugs for CNS Disorders 

A description of drugs that affect the central nervous system, including general and local anesthetics, opiates, antipsychotics, antidepressants, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and antiepileptics.

Respiratory and Gastrointestinal Drugs 

A description of the drugs that affect the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, including corticosteroids, beta-agonists, cholinergic antagonists, methylxanthines, leukotriene modifiers, antacids, H2 antagonists, and proton-pump inhibitors.

Renal, Urinary, and Cardiovascular Drugs 

A description of the drugs that affect the renal, urinary, and cardiovascular systems, including antibiotics, alpha-blockers, antispasmodics, diuretics, antihypertensive drugs, calcium channel blockers, nitrates, antiarrhythmic drugs, and lipid-lowering drugs.

Muscle Relaxants, Nonnarcotic Analgesics, Hormones, and Topicals 

A description of the nature, uses, and side effects of medicinal drugs in the classes of muscle relaxants, nonnarcotic analgesics, hormones, and topicals.

Chemotherapy and Miscellaneous Pharmaceutical Products 

Chemotherapeutic and biologic drugs as well as substances such as vitamins, herbs, and antidotes.

Lesson Group 5: Community and Hospital Pharmacy Practice

Community Pharmacy Operations 

Retail versus institutional pharmacy operations; pharmacy as both a business and a profession; typical business day operations.

Interpreting and Processing Prescriptions; Patient Charts 

Reviewing prescriptions for completeness; processing new prescriptions and refills; pharmacist reviews; maintaining electronic records of patient medications.

Third-Party Payments 

Prescription insurance plans; receiving insurance information; processing third-party insurance claims; resolving unpaid drug claims.

Merchandise Handling and Inventory 

The importance of inventory control for pharmaceutical businesses; purchasing and short lists; receiving incoming merchandise; returning expired or overstocked merchandise.

Hospital Pharmacy Practice 

Common hospital pharmacy settings; types of patients; role of the pharmacist and pharmacy technician; equipment, technology, and best practices in the hospital pharmacy setting.

Infection Control and Preparing Sterile IVs 

Protecting patients and healthcare providers from infectious diseases; techniques used to prepare sterile intravenous products.

HIPAA Regulations, Pathogens in the Pharmacy, and Employment Preparation 

Privacy versus security; protected health information in the pharmacy setting; the HIPAA Privacy Rule; OSHA standards; universal precautions; CDC hygiene guidelines; using personal protective equipment; certification preparation; career options; writing resumes and cover letters; preparing for interviews.

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Program Description

Students learn the fundamentals of pharmaceutical dispensing, including dosage forms, routes of administration, measurements and calculations, infection control, medication safety, prescription reading, and pharmacology. Program graduates can apply their skills toward improved career opportunities and professional advancement. A student of the Retail Pharmacy Assistant program must attain the age of 18 years and have a High School diploma or its equivalent prior to enrollment.

The Retail Pharmacy Assistant training and education program at PCDI has an ASHP/ACPE candidate status.  Candidate status is neither a status of accreditation nor a guarantee that accreditation will be granted.

Program Objectives

After completing the Retail Pharmacy Assistant program, students will be able to:

  1. Outline the typical responsibilities of a pharmacy assistant and describe the personal and professional ethics required for success in this profession.
  2. Describe the roles and responsibilities of the pharmacy assistant and the pharmacist, explain the differences between these two roles, and outline the regulations imposed on both by state and federal law.
  3. Explain how to follow all standard techniques and procedures related to pharmacy operations, including aseptic operations, medication transcriptions, metric/apothecary conversions, drug dispensation, recordkeeping, and patient profiling.
  4. List and explain all major classifications of drugs and understand their indications, therapeutic effects, side effects, dosing recommendations, routes of administration, and mechanisms of action.

The Retail Pharmacy Assistant program will teach you to assist the pharmacist in a busy pharmacy. Call 1-800-535-1613 or enroll online today.