medications in Canada

A lot of students and applicants become more and more interested in moving to Canada every year. But many don’t know the process to become a pharmacist in Canada. Moreover, many of them change their minds due to not knowing how to obtain a license to practice pharmacy in Canada. In this post, I’ll walk you through all the steps that will help you become a licensed pharmacist in Canada.

Pharmacy Licensing Bodies in Canada

To become a pharmacist in Canada, you need to know one thing. Each Province in Canada has its own pharmacy licensing body. That said, if you receive a license to practice pharmacy in Ontario for example, you cannot automatically practice in BC or other Provinces. Below are all licensing bodies in Canada:

  • Alberta College of Pharmacy
  • College of Pharmacists of BC
  • College of Pharmacists of Manitoba
  • Community Services (Professional Licensing)-Government of Yukon
  • Department of Health-Government of Nunavut
  • Health and Social services-Government of the Northwest Territories
  • New Brunswick College of Pharmacists
  • Newfoundland and Labrador pharmacy board
  • Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists
  • Ontario College of Pharmacists
  • Ordre des pharmaciens du Quebec
  • Prince Edward Island College of Pharmacy
  • Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy professionals

Licensure requirements to become a pharmacist in Canada

The above licensing bodies need to make sure that your international pharmacy education and experience meet Canadian standards before you become a pharmacist in Canada. This is why there is an organization by the name the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada was formed (PEBC). The purpose of the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) is to assess the qualifications of pharmacists. The PEBC evaluates certain documents to ensure applicants have a degree in Pharmacy that is acceptable. This primary evaluation process is the Document Evaluation. After a successful document evaluation, applicants must then write an Evaluating Examination and Qualifying Exam. Applicants should be aware of registration criteria, examination fees, registration deadlines, and the turnaround time for exam results. Other costs may include preparation materials, travel, etc. And believe me, many applicants from around the world have credentials that PEBC may not accept, which could be frustrating to some.

In order to become a licensed pharmacist in Canada, you need to follow a few steps:

  1. Enroll with Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada.
  2. Submit documents for evaluation
  3. Successfully complete the PEBC Evaluating Exam
  4. Meet the Language Proficiency Requirements
  5. Enroll and complete the International Pharmacist Bridging Program
  6. Successfully complete the Qualifying Exams Parts I & II
  7. Register as a pharmacy intern with one of the licensing bodies above
  8. Successfully complete the Jurisprudence Exam
  9. Complete the pharmacist registration with your licensing body

How can I prepare for PEBC Pharmacy Exams?

PEBC pharmacy exams are not the easiest and require good preparation. Practice is the key! You need to practice multiple question banks to cover the broadest possible areas. There are lots of reading materials available that can help you. However, nothing beats question banks. Our question banks offered through the PEBC preparation course cover all aspects of the exams and should help you score higher. You can also prepare for the exam using a study group. Whatever you feel may work for you go for it! But remember, those exams aren’t the cheapest as well! You need to do whatever you can to pass the exam on the first try! Remember, the path to become a pharmacist in Canada is not easy, but with a little help, you can do it!

Explanation of all steps needed to become a registered pharmacist in Canada

First Step To Become a Pharmacist in Canada

The first step is to enroll in NAPRA’s (National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities) Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada. This is mandatory for all international pharmacy graduates (IPGs). Without enrolling you cannot move on to the next steps. Enrolling in the Gateway gives you a national ID number, which is essential in the next steps.

Second Step To Become a Pharmacist in Canada

The second step in the pathway to become a clinical pharmacist is to apply to the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC). Here is where the national ID number’s importance comes into play. During the various stages of the examination, the results become available to the authorities through a repository.

This makes it easier for the authorities as well as candidates to track their progress.

The PEBC certification process

International pharmacy graduates (IPGs) have to go through three stages of examination before they can become licensed pharmacists in Canada.

Document Evaluation

To make sure that the candidates’ education is at par with Canadian standards, the PEBC may ask the candidates to produce documents for evaluation and if deemed satisfactory enough, candidates will move to the next stages.

What is the minimum requirement here? A four-year undergraduate degree in pharmacy is the minimum requirement for licensure.

And, another thing to note is that you should complete the next stage within five years of the document evaluation, after which the results of the document evaluation may expire

Evaluating Examination

Once you’ve cleared the document evaluation stage, your prowess in various subjects will be tested. The subjects are biomedical sciences; pharmaceutical sciences; pharmacy practice; and behavioral, social, and administrative pharmacy sciences.

You only have 3 attempts to take the test at this stage. Following a petition and producing documentation of having undergone and successfully completed a bridging program, you can apply for a fourth attempt.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is the third and final stage in the PEBC certification process. The examination itself is further divided into two parts.

The first part is MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions) based. The test is available either online or offline.

The second part is an OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) exam. Here, candidates go through simulated environments to test their calibers. As such, this must be done in person (meaning no online mode).

You have a maximum of three attempts for each part of the examination. One can attempt the parts in whichever order you please. You don’t necessarily have to complete part 1 to move to part 2. However, if you have failed Part 2, you will have to pass Part 1 to undertake the Part 2 examination again.

There are no scores for the examination. Your profile which was discussed in the first and second stages of getting licensed, will be merely shown as passed or failed.

The PEBC Certificate of Qualification is a requisite to obtain a pharmacist license in most Canadian provinces. This does not mean you can practice once you’ve cleared the PEBC certification process

Candidates must apply directly to the PRA (Pharmacy Regulatory Authority) in the province in which they want to be licensed in addition to applying to the PRA through Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada.

Before getting to that, let’s take a look at ‘fluency’ which we have put off until now.

Language proficiency

Language Proficiency standards are set by the NAPRA (National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities). The speaking, reading, writing, and listening skills of IPGs will be tested. You must meet certain standards before obtaining a license to practice as a pharmacist.

Fluency in language goes beyond vocabulary and command over the language. You may be very good in, say, English (one of the two languages, either of which you have to be proficient in). But, you must also know Canadian slang terms which may be used in certain places.

In addition to slang terms, you must also be able to understand gestures commonly used by Canadians. Gestures play a very important role in communication, maybe even more than words. You must have the ability to understand a person without the use of spoken words.

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