Andrew Hanna Describes Pharmacist Prerequisites In Canada

In Canada, there are about over 42,000 licensed pharmacists. These professionals work in a variety of different settings such as community pharmacies, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacy is a rewarding job that brings the professional into contact with the public, helping them with their medical needs. Often, a pharmacist is the first line of defence against illness, giving recommendations to a patient regarding the safety and effectiveness of their medication.

The process of becoming a licensed pharmacist in Canada can be intimidating, but there are concrete steps that a professional can follow to receive this certification and begin work in the field. Andrew Hanna, a pharmacist from Ontario, explains the process of joining the field.

Educational Prerequisites

In order to become a pharmacist in Ontario, you will need a bachelor’s or doctorate in pharmacy. There are 10 Canadian universities to choose from in receiving this degree, including Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the Université de Montréal.

Pharmacy degrees are given only to highly skilled students. It takes five years of university study to receive an undergraduate pharmacy degree, with one or two years taking undergraduate courses and a four-year pharmacy program.

The four-year degree program helps students learn therapeutic knowledge and skills. They are educated in microbiology, pathophysiology, toxicology, pharmacology, and pharmaceutical care, among other disciplines.

Frequently, student pharmacists also take courses intended to help them with patients at different stages of life. Geriatrics, menopause, or pediatric specialties can be pursued, among others.


Student pharmacists often take at least a one-year residency after graduating from college. They may perform one-year training programs at a hospital or in a community setting.

Programs Certified by CCAPP

In order to receive permission to practice as a pharmacist in Ontario, you must graduate from a university with a program certified by PEBC or Pharmacy Examining board of canada

All pharmacy schools in Ontario will be able to prepare you for work in the province. If you have studied in other provinces, you must make sure that you have followed all of Ontario’s requirements.


Student pharmacists in Ontario must successfully complete the PACE exam, also known as the Practice Assessment of Competence at Entry. This test assesses an applicant’s ability to practise as an authorized pharmacist.

PACE does not provide training on the process of practicing in the field. Students need to have completed pharmacy school and an internship in Ontario in order to proceed.

The criteria for assessment include the ability to conduct patient assessments, the problems that could occur during drug therapy, clinical decision-making, and the implementation of care plans. The test also evaluates whether a pharmacist candidate is able to recognise when a patient’s difficulties are too great to be handled in the pharmacy itself.

Candidates need to be able to demonstrate proper verbal and non-verbal communication skills. They must also be able to complete documentation in a clear and organised manner.

Finally, a pharmacy candidate needs to be able to apply these regulations and ethical principles in practice.

Jurisprudence Exam

Next, the student must complete the Jurisprudence Exam. This exam assesses candidates’ knowledge of provincial legislation that affects pharmacy practice in Ontario.


As the last part of their education, the student pharmacist must receive a Certificate of Qualification from the PEBC or Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada. This test evaluates the student’s documented credentials and includes a topic exam. Ontario students must complete this test before they begin bridging education for their pathway to registration.

Language Facility

You will need to be fluent in either English or French or both in order to become a pharmacist in Canada. Being bilingual has certain advantages because you will be able to work in communities with mixed language backgrounds.

International Pharmacy Graduates

Pharmacists who were trained in other countries can also be certified in Ontario. The bridging program at the university of Toronto administers a course that all international pharmacy graduates must take for licensure.

Trade Organisations

Useful trade organisations in Ontario and Canada as a whole include the Ontario College of Pharmacy and the Canadian Pharmacists Association. These organisations provide regulatory and legislative support to Canadian pharmacists.

Pharmacists’ Importance in the Community

Without pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, Ontario residents would receive incomplete medical care. When pharmacists are properly trained and regulated, they can offer competent and compassionate care to the population. Pharmacists must always be sure that they have the public’s best interests in mind and that they carefully consider the implications of their actions.

Andrew Hanna encourages all interested undergraduate students in Ontario to look into pharmacy as a career.

Originally published at on October 15, 2020.

I am a certified compounding pharmacist and the founder of the pharmacy Cotton Mill Pharmacy, a specialty pharmacy that compounds prescriptions for clients.