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Army Air Force Navy

Pharmacy Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

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. Within the CAF, Pharmacy Officers are the experts in medical materiel procurement and medical supply chain management. They leverage their training and experience to ensure entitled personnel have access to medical supplies wherever they are stationed – be it a base in Canada, or on operations overseas. Pharmacy Officers perform contracting functions for the procurement of medical supplies and work collaboratively with non-medical CAF members to transport cold chain medications around the world. 

Work environment

Pharmacy Officers typically provide pharmacy services at health clinics in Canada, although they also work in a medical depot or in support of military missions in a field medical unit. Pharmacy officers face challenging clinical situations and will also serve as leaders, administrators, and material managers.

Career Overview

Transcript

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN: I’m Captain Christopher Sherman from Riverview, New Brunswick. I’m a Pharmacy Officer currently posted at 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Pharmacy Officers are a vital part of the healthcare team in the Canadian Armed Forces. From providing expert advice on drug therapy in garrison and on deployments, to managing the distribution of medication and medical equipment, Pharmacy Officers are employed in a variety of settings.

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN: There’s actually many jobs you can occupy as a military pharmacist. Our military clinics are actually a bit of a mix between civilian pharmacy and hospital pharmacy. So we still have the traditional dispensaries, as you can see behind me here, and we actually have a lot of clinical roles as well, so our doctors, our nurses, all of that, are located right in the same building with us. So we have case conferences on patients, we do rounds with physicians, all these things that you get in a hospital as well, so you’re a little more involved in the patient care, which is nice.

There are other roles: we have something called CMED, which is a central medical equipment depot, in Petawawa, where they basically act as a medical supply for the entire Canadian Forces and for deployed operations.

We have other positions at Field Ambulances and Field Hospitals, sort of acting more in the field environment, supporting the troops directly there. You’re not only the pharmacist, clinically, but you’re also often in charge of the medical supplies and all the medical assets, so anything from drugs to blood to X-ray machines, anything like that is sort of your jurisdiction. So you’re a bit of a manager in that sense.

We do also have a disaster assistance response team role, which is a team that the Canadian Forces puts together to respond to natural emergencies when they happen around the world. As well as positions in Ottawa, developing policy, working on drug formulary, all those types of things.

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN: A career in the military as a pharmacist, it’s really an adventure, honestly. You get the opportunities to go out with the troops on taskings — you know, play in the field, wear all the gear, carry around the weapons, things like that.

The Army and the military also offers a lot of esprit de corps, you know, there’s a lot of pride when you put on that uniform in the morning.

As well, with the military, I find that the quality of life is really there for you. On your day-to-day work, to do physical training during work hours — whether it’s go to the gym, I play soccer a couple of days a week — getting those types of opportunities that just improve your morale and really make coming to work fun.

I recently got back from Kuwait on a three-week deployment and it was my first opportunity to do something like that. Just from getting off the plane, it’s all real all of a sudden. You know, I was nervous going into it, but to be able to go there and actually do your job — you’re supporting a lot of people over there that are really making a difference in that area.

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN: Well, the first couple of years of your career, generally, we spend about a year doing our initial training — so things like a 6-month hospital residency and some military courses specific to pharmacy and healthcare within the military. Generally we’re posted to a larger clinic, so you have someone to kind of help you learn the job, things like that; spend a couple of years on the clinic, just doing what we learned in school, getting a little bit of the military pace, and then eventually getting the opportunity to branch out and get some experience in some of those other positions that are a little more unique to military service.

Pharmacy Officers also work in other environments including instruction and teaching, as well as strategic management and pharmacy governance.

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN: Being in the military gives me a pretty tremendous sense of pride, obviously, being able to put on the uniform in the morning and be proud of that, be proud of what you’re doing, being proud of making a difference, both when you’re working here in the clinic as well as when you’re deployed or on operation overseas. Getting that chance to really make a difference, not only in Canadians’ lives but other people’s lives is quite rewarding and really makes you feel good at the end of the day — it makes you feel like you’re making a difference.

 

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Pharmacist

Training

After enrolment, Pharmacy Officers attend Basic Military Officer Qualification training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.Pharmacy Officers take the Condensed Health Services Basic Military Officer Qualification Training which consists of two weeks of Distance Learning and four weeks of in-house training in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.  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.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Pharmacy Officers must complete the Common Health Services Officer (CHSO) course which is an eight-day e-learning course available on the Defence Learning Network (DLN).  The CHSO course introduces Pharmacy Officers to Canadian Armed Forces policies and procedures as well as HR management of military members and civilian personnel.

Pharmacy Officers attend the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario, for the Basic Pharmacy Officer Course which includes 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.

On-the-job training

Pharmacy Officers may 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:

  • Professional Certificate in Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmacovigilance – London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine;
  • Certificate in Travel Health from the International Society of Travel Medicine;
  • Basic Aviation Medicine training;
  • Leadership training;
  • Management training.

As they progress in their career, Pharmacy Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential may have the opportunity to pursue post-graduate training at an accredited Canadian university.

Entry plans

If you already have a Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) or a Pharm D degree from a recognized Canadian university, have passed the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada’s qualifying exam, hold a current license to practice client-based pharmacy in a Canadian province or territory, and are in the possession of a letter of ‘Good Standing’ from your professional regulatory authority, the CAF may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Because this on-the-job training leads directly to an intensive 6 month clinical residency, it is also necessary that all candidates (except for very recent graduates) possess---or seek out---clinical experience in a tertiary care facility as delineated in the entry standard prior to applying to the CAF. Basic training and military officer qualification training (of which this clinical residency are part) are both required before being assigned.

Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP)

Due to the requirement for CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program at a civilian Canadian University. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in the CAF for a period of time. Candidates must attend a civilian Canadian University as the Royal Canadian Military College System does not offer a degree that matches this occupation.  If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and a Canadian universities concurrently as the CAF does not have reserved seats.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for CAF operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the CAF and the local community.

As a health care professional in the Health Services Reserves, you must have an unrestricted license to practice in your clinical field (including certification in your specific specialty) and have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.

 

This position is available for part-time employment through the Reserves. Reservists generally work part-time for a Reserve health services 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.

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts.  Applicants with an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy or a Pharmacy D (entry-level), who have successfully completed the Pharmaceutical Examination Board of Canada qualifying examination Parts I and II, hold a current unrestricted license to practice as a pharmacist and have a letter of “good standing” from their professional regulatory authority may be placed directly into the required military training program following basic officer training.

Reserve Pharmacy Officers may serve part-time at a Health Services Clinic and may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms.They are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay and receive a reasonable benefits package.