Pharmacy Officers provide pharmaceutical care to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members. They offer expert advice on drug therapy for emergency medicine, intensive care therapy, pain management, infectious diseases, and medical countermeasures for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. Pharmacy Officers also identify and resolve complex drug-related problems.
The role of a Pharmacy Officer is constantly changing and is no longer confined to the distribution of medications. As integral members of the Canadian Forces Health Services team, Pharmacy Officers consult with patients, physicians, and other health care professionals. They teach and guide pharmacy students and interns, serve on advisory and professional committees, and maintain clinical competence through structured and self-directed learning initiatives. Pharmacy Officers also manage and control medical supplies and equipment.
Pharmacy Officers typically provide pharmacy services at health clinics in Canada, although they may also work in a medical depot or in support of military missions in a field medical unit. Pharmacy officers face challenging clinical situations but will also serve as leaders, administrators, and material managers.
Pay and career development
The starting salary for a fully trained and licensed Pharmacy Officer is approximately $74,000 per year. Upon receiving their licence, Pharmacy Officers are promoted to the rank of Captain. Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.
Related civilian occupations
Basic military officer qualification
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.
Pharmacy Officers attend the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario, for instruction on military medical doctrine in a field environment, general health care administration, military pharmacy practice, and medical supply management. This training provides the background and opportunity to participate in the clinical, technical, logistic, and administrative aspects of pharmacy practice in the CAF.
Pharmacy Officers will have the opportunity to complete a six month preceptor program at an accredited civilian hospital, similar to the Hospital Residency program.
Pharmacy Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, such as:
- Pharmaco-epidemiology training
- Travel medicine training
- Basic Aviation Medicine training
- Leadership training
- Management training
As they progress in their career, Pharmacy Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training, including subsidized studies in a Doctor of Pharmacy program at an accredited Canadian university.
If you already have a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from a recognized Canadian university, have passed the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada’s qualifying exam, and hold a current licence to practise client-based pharmacy in a Canadian province or territory, the CAF may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.
Regular Officer Training Plan
Because this position requires a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates selected for this program attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months.
If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice that offers a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree program.
This occupation is available part-time within the following environments: Navy, Army, Air Force
A career with the Reserve Force
This position is available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve unit in their community. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.
Reservists train with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required professional standards of the job. If additional training is required in order to specialize their skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.
It is also possible to set up an “Individual Learning Plan” to take courses leading to a university degree related to this job, and upon successful completion, be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of tuition and other mandatory costs. Education fees for successfully completed courses are reimbursed as long as the student was a Reservist during the entire duration of the course.
Typically, Reservists work or train with their home unit for at least four evenings and one weekend per month, from September to May of each year. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.
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