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UK Pharmacists in Canada

UK Pharmacists in Canada

Old Apr 12th 2020, 7:39 pm
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Default UK Pharmacists in Canada

Hello everyone! I'm new!
I moved to Canada from the UK around 5 years ago. In the UK I was (and still am) a registered pharmacist working in the community sector. I am still registered and go back to the UK to practice for a few months about every 18 months (lots of CPD between and lead up to). PR etc not a problem, waiting for Citizenship exam .
When I first moved to Canada I didn't consider registering as a pharmacist for several reasons. Firstly, didn't know how long I would be staying, secondly I wanted a break, and thirdly the studying time and cost of obtaining a license in BC where I live (6 months, c$20000 cost with no/little pay those months either!). I have a pretty nice job as a waitress now and earn not much less than I would as a full time pharmacist but with a lot more flexibility and no real risk of hurting anyone or responsibilities! However, I can't see myself doing this for more than another 5 years as I would like a family and regular hours. I've never absolutely loved being a pharmacist (maybe because of the chronic underfunding in the UK, staff shortage and pay etc) but i've always appreciated the job as a steady profession where I can help people and constantly learn, and I do feel a little guilty sometimes for turning my back on it when I worked so hard at it for over 10 years. Also maybe it's better in Canada? I was a diligent pharmacist in charge of a huge dispensary and helped a lot of technicians to reach their goals. I feel I could contribute a lot to profession and also feel guilty for this right now .
Since Covid has hit and I lost my hospitality job for now, it occurred to me that I could be using this time to prepare for the evaluating and qualifying exams potentially allowing me to work a few days on the weekend through the 6 month compulsory uni/placement time instead of studying on the weekends.
I am reaching out to see if there are any others out there that have actually gone through the licensing and I could connect with you? What sector did/do you work in and how different is it to UK pharmacy? How did you prepare for the exams? Are chronic underfunding, not enough staff and greedy multiples the same problem in Canada as in the UK? How intense was the UBC course, was there time for a part time job? How many hours did you attend at your placement pharmacy? Did you get any pay for that? How did you fund your licensing?

Thanks in advance for any replies! I would very much like to hear your stories
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Old Apr 28th 2020, 5:25 pm
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Default Re: UK Pharmacists in Canada

Originally Posted by Babyraccoon View Post
Hello everyone! I'm new!
I moved to Canada from the UK around 5 years ago. In the UK I was (and still am) a registered pharmacist working in the community sector. I am still registered and go back to the UK to practice for a few months about every 18 months (lots of CPD between and lead up to). PR etc not a problem, waiting for Citizenship exam .
When I first moved to Canada I didn't consider registering as a pharmacist for several reasons. Firstly, didn't know how long I would be staying, secondly I wanted a break, and thirdly the studying time and cost of obtaining a license in BC where I live (6 months, c$20000 cost with no/little pay those months either!). I have a pretty nice job as a waitress now and earn not much less than I would as a full time pharmacist but with a lot more flexibility and no real risk of hurting anyone or responsibilities! However, I can't see myself doing this for more than another 5 years as I would like a family and regular hours. I've never absolutely loved being a pharmacist (maybe because of the chronic underfunding in the UK, staff shortage and pay etc) but i've always appreciated the job as a steady profession where I can help people and constantly learn, and I do feel a little guilty sometimes for turning my back on it when I worked so hard at it for over 10 years. Also maybe it's better in Canada? I was a diligent pharmacist in charge of a huge dispensary and helped a lot of technicians to reach their goals. I feel I could contribute a lot to profession and also feel guilty for this right now .
Since Covid has hit and I lost my hospitality job for now, it occurred to me that I could be using this time to prepare for the evaluating and qualifying exams potentially allowing me to work a few days on the weekend through the 6 month compulsory uni/placement time instead of studying on the weekends.
I am reaching out to see if there are any others out there that have actually gone through the licensing and I could connect with you? What sector did/do you work in and how different is it to UK pharmacy? How did you prepare for the exams? Are chronic underfunding, not enough staff and greedy multiples the same problem in Canada as in the UK? How intense was the UBC course, was there time for a part time job? How many hours did you attend at your placement pharmacy? Did you get any pay for that? How did you fund your licensing?

Thanks in advance for any replies! I would very much like to hear your stories
Hi Babyraccoon!

Nice to hear from another UK pharmacist in Canada. I'm currently preparing for my qualifying exams later this year, after having passing the evaluating exam in January. I know exactly what you mean, as I went through similar thoughts myself. I first landed in Canada end of 2016, but had to go back home for a while for family reasons. But when i first arrived, I had looked into the process, and realised the time it took - quite some time and a huge cost to get licensing here, plus I was also over 10 years into working, so I was reluctant to go back to study all over again, especially when i felt i hardly remember anything from university. Plus I thought, would I be here forever? However I tried to find alternative careers but didn't come up with anything i really wanted to do and realised that if i were to retrain to do something else, it would still be a huge cost in time and money, if not even more. I guess I've been so used to the free tuition we had in Scotland for courses and degrees, that Canada seemed so expensive. I only returned to Canada end of last year, and finally came to the decision to get my license for Canada if i really wanted to give myself a chance to be able to afford living costs and a decent job.
I'm also still licensed in the UK too, though I'm not sure how I'm going to keep that up because of the revalidation that's required now, plus it's an extra cost. But i would be sad to leave it behind and if I were to go back to the UK later down the line, I like the option to be still able to practice.

As for the evaluating exam, it was okay - stressful because I decided and applied last minute and only left myself 3 months to study, plus move back to Canada and find a place to stay. Studied a lot of undergrad stuff, which ranged from medicinal chemistry, pharm sciences, to pharmacology to threapeutics. As for working in pharmacy here, I've only recently started working as an assistant in a small pharmacy, only part time though. I think community pharmacy is similar to the UK (though I was mainly hospital pharmacy in the UK). But here I would say, dealing with health insurance is what I find hard trying to get my head round, as in Scotland, we don't have prescription charges, so this was never an issue. There are a few lottle differences but overall I would say it seems fairly similar. But also each province, there are slight differences too in the scope of practice - I'm in Ontario.
For getting licensing, in Ontario, if we pass the qualifying exam the first time round, the bridging programme can be waived I believe, but i think in BC this is mandatory. That's the part that is most expensive.

It's great you can go back to practice to the UK keep up your license, I would love to do that though not sure how easy it would be - how do you manage to keep up working in two countries? And having found a hospitality job that paid almost the same as a pharmacist sounds great! I know others have advised me that if i really wanted to give living in Canada a good chance, and finding a job that I wanted to do that paid a better wage than the survival job I had, then I should try to get my license to practice, and I think for me, that is the right choice. I hope that helps. And congrats for almost getting your citizenship too!
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Old Apr 29th 2020, 3:01 pm
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Default Re: UK Pharmacists in Canada

I can’t be any help but have a question. I am a retired Pharmacist and Dentist in US and was wondering if the U.K. and Canada have similar pharmacist over supply problem we have here. I was a part time hospital pharmacist from 1986 to 2012. During most of that time there was a big pharmacist shortage in US but now a major oversupply to the point many new grads and older pharmacist can’t find a job. This is due to the over doubling the number of pharmacy schools in past few years. In my state of Tennessee we went from one pharmacy school to five maybe six in past 15 years. Salaries have dropped accordingly. I was lucky to retire just in time.
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Old May 1st 2020, 8:50 pm
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Default Re: UK Pharmacists in Canada

Originally Posted by miss_mp View Post
Hi Babyraccoon!

Nice to hear from another UK pharmacist in Canada. I'm currently preparing for my qualifying exams later this year, after having passing the evaluating exam in January. I know exactly what you mean, as I went through similar thoughts myself. I first landed in Canada end of 2016, but had to go back home for a while for family reasons. But when i first arrived, I had looked into the process, and realised the time it took - quite some time and a huge cost to get licensing here, plus I was also over 10 years into working, so I was reluctant to go back to study all over again, especially when i felt i hardly remember anything from university. Plus I thought, would I be here forever? However I tried to find alternative careers but didn't come up with anything i really wanted to do and realised that if i were to retrain to do something else, it would still be a huge cost in time and money, if not even more. I guess I've been so used to the free tuition we had in Scotland for courses and degrees, that Canada seemed so expensive. I only returned to Canada end of last year, and finally came to the decision to get my license for Canada if i really wanted to give myself a chance to be able to afford living costs and a decent job.
I'm also still licensed in the UK too, though I'm not sure how I'm going to keep that up because of the revalidation that's required now, plus it's an extra cost. But i would be sad to leave it behind and if I were to go back to the UK later down the line, I like the option to be still able to practice.

As for the evaluating exam, it was okay - stressful because I decided and applied last minute and only left myself 3 months to study, plus move back to Canada and find a place to stay. Studied a lot of undergrad stuff, which ranged from medicinal chemistry, pharm sciences, to pharmacology to threapeutics. As for working in pharmacy here, I've only recently started working as an assistant in a small pharmacy, only part time though. I think community pharmacy is similar to the UK (though I was mainly hospital pharmacy in the UK). But here I would say, dealing with health insurance is what I find hard trying to get my head round, as in Scotland, we don't have prescription charges, so this was never an issue. There are a few lottle differences but overall I would say it seems fairly similar. But also each province, there are slight differences too in the scope of practice - I'm in Ontario.
For getting licensing, in Ontario, if we pass the qualifying exam the first time round, the bridging programme can be waived I believe, but i think in BC this is mandatory. That's the part that is most expensive.

It's great you can go back to practice to the UK keep up your license, I would love to do that though not sure how easy it would be - how do you manage to keep up working in two countries? And having found a hospitality job that paid almost the same as a pharmacist sounds great! I know others have advised me that if i really wanted to give living in Canada a good chance, and finding a job that I wanted to do that paid a better wage than the survival job I had, then I should try to get my license to practice, and I think for me, that is the right choice. I hope that helps. And congrats for almost getting your citizenship too!
Wow miss_mp sooooo good to hear your story and find out where you have got to with it 😍! Massive congratulations on passing the evaluating exam πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰! I cannot BELIEVE you booked it and studied for only three months! I've got myself into a right state over the vast content πŸ˜…, probably got too much time on my hands during covid and over thinking it. How much were you studying each day and which resources did you find the best? I've got 'Comprehensive Pharmacy Review for NAPLEX' as saw it was recommended on quite a few forums but it's so boring and very full on I'm struggling with it (probably because it's a compacted review of everything). I've ordered Rangs Pharmacology now (I'm sure you had this book at uni like me πŸ˜„) and hoping to understand things better from there as I remember it had good diagrams. Honestly as a community pharmacist in the UK I hardly ever needed any of my uni knowledge apart from calculations and checking interactions and spent most of my time fire fighting through vast volumes of repeat prescriptions, sorting of staff issues. And also chasing suppliers trying to get hold of out if stock items πŸ˜‚.
So interesting to hear about passing the Qualifying exams first time in Ontario allows you to waive the bridging course. That is really awesome. I started to look in to maybe doing that and then converting to a BC license because the cost of the bridging course is so much money and time. I was actually really looking forward to the uni part of it and feel it would be very valuable but so very disappointed with the cost and also that you are working in a dispensary for 3 months, 40 hours with no pay on top of that 😭. Do you have to work under another pharmacist for 3 months in Ontario before you qualify or is that also waived if you pass the qualifying exam first time? Also pretty horrified that after qualifying with a 1:1 as a pharmacist in a UK university taught in English that I have to pay for yet another English exam with IELTS and take a day off work to go and sit it. This makes no sense to me and makes me quite angry especially when some parts of Canada are short of pharmacists.
Anyway, thank you so much for your reply it has made my day to hear about you have got on and delighted for you for passing the evaluating exam 😊. I'm going to chip away at the evaluating exam syllabus and look to book it maybe in Ontario instead .... once we get back to normal!
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Old May 1st 2020, 9:02 pm
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Default Re: UK Pharmacists in Canada

Originally Posted by ddsrph View Post
I can’t be any help but have a question. I am a retired Pharmacist and Dentist in US and was wondering if the U.K. and Canada have similar pharmacist over supply problem we have here. I was a part time hospital pharmacist from 1986 to 2012. During most of that time there was a big pharmacist shortage in US but now a major oversupply to the point many new grads and older pharmacist can’t find a job. This is due to the over doubling the number of pharmacy schools in past few years. In my state of Tennessee we went from one pharmacy school to five maybe six in past 15 years. Salaries have dropped accordingly. I was lucky to retire just in time.
ddsrph! To answer your question, I believe the supply of pharmacists in Canada is ok, and there is a shortage in more rural locations. In the UK, the same happened as what you describe in Tennessee - HUGE increase in pharmacy schools, unchecked by our representative body 😑 with the additional whammy of a huge influx of pharmacists from Europe due to the EU allowing pharmacists that qualified anywhere in Europe to practice in the UK with only a short period of supervised practice with a UK qualified pharmacist. These two things had the effect of over supply and led to massive wage decreases (in the community sector at least, which is all I know). As far as I know the only way to make a decent living in the UK now is hospital sector as they have proper bands for career progression or getting a prescribing license and working in a GP practice. All options require a lot of work in your own time on top of regular pharmacy degree. If I go back to the UK to work now as a community locum I get a pitiful amount (less than $25 USD per hour) and the job is HARD and stressful with a lot of pressure from the large multiples to perform so many of this and that service per day. I only do it now to keep up my license and keep my hand in so that I dont have to do a lot to get back on the register if I decide to go back and say work in the hospital sector. Canada I believe is better though. Most of the pharmacists I meet here (just in my little part of BC) say it's a good job.
Thanks for your reply 😊
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Old May 1st 2020, 9:15 pm
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Default Re: UK Pharmacists in Canada

Originally Posted by Babyraccoon View Post
ddsrph! To answer your question, I believe the supply of pharmacists in Canada is ok, and there is a shortage in more rural locations. In the UK, the same happened as what you describe in Tennessee - HUGE increase in pharmacy schools, unchecked by our representative body 😑 with the additional whammy of a huge influx of pharmacists from Europe due to the EU allowing pharmacists that qualified anywhere in Europe to practice in the UK with only a short period of supervised practice with a UK qualified pharmacist. These two things had the effect of over supply and led to massive wage decreases (in the community sector at least, which is all I know). As far as I know the only way to make a decent living in the UK now is hospital sector as they have proper bands for career progression or getting a prescribing license and working in a GP practice. All options require a lot of work in your own time on top of regular pharmacy degree. If I go back to the UK to work now as a community locum I get a pitiful amount (less than $25 USD per hour) and the job is HARD and stressful with a lot of pressure from the large multiples to perform so many of this and that service per day. I only do it now to keep up my license and keep my hand in so that I dont have to do a lot to get back on the register if I decide to go back and say work in the hospital sector. Canada I believe is better though. Most of the pharmacists I meet here (just in my little part of BC) say it's a good job.
Thanks for your reply 😊
At the same time we had an oversupply the chains and others falsely claimed a shortage and kept bringing in foreign trained to further put pressure on wages. At the peak salaries were over 100k per year and now at best 2/3 of that if you can find a job at all. As you know it can be a very stressful job and it doesn’t help for your supervisor to point out the fifty applications they have for your job. I was never in that situation but that’s the reality now.
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Old May 3rd 2020, 12:22 am
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Smile Re: UK Pharmacists in Canada

Originally Posted by Babyraccoon View Post
Wow miss_mp sooooo good to hear your story and find out where you have got to with it 😍! Massive congratulations on passing the evaluating exam πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰! I cannot BELIEVE you booked it and studied for only three months! I've got myself into a right state over the vast content πŸ˜…, probably got too much time on my hands during covid and over thinking it. How much were you studying each day and which resources did you find the best? I've got 'Comprehensive Pharmacy Review for NAPLEX' as saw it was recommended on quite a few forums but it's so boring and very full on I'm struggling with it (probably because it's a compacted review of everything). I've ordered Rangs Pharmacology now (I'm sure you had this book at uni like me πŸ˜„) and hoping to understand things better from there as I remember it had good diagrams. Honestly as a community pharmacist in the UK I hardly ever needed any of my uni knowledge apart from calculations and checking interactions and spent most of my time fire fighting through vast volumes of repeat prescriptions, sorting of staff issues. And also chasing suppliers trying to get hold of out if stock items πŸ˜‚.
So interesting to hear about passing the Qualifying exams first time in Ontario allows you to waive the bridging course. That is really awesome. I started to look in to maybe doing that and then converting to a BC license because the cost of the bridging course is so much money and time. I was actually really looking forward to the uni part of it and feel it would be very valuable but so very disappointed with the cost and also that you are working in a dispensary for 3 months, 40 hours with no pay on top of that 😭. Do you have to work under another pharmacist for 3 months in Ontario before you qualify or is that also waived if you pass the qualifying exam first time? Also pretty horrified that after qualifying with a 1:1 as a pharmacist in a UK university taught in English that I have to pay for yet another English exam with IELTS and take a day off work to go and sit it. This makes no sense to me and makes me quite angry especially when some parts of Canada are short of pharmacists.
Anyway, thank you so much for your reply it has made my day to hear about you have got on and delighted for you for passing the evaluating exam 😊. I'm going to chip away at the evaluating exam syllabus and look to book it maybe in Ontario instead .... once we get back to normal!
Thanks Babyracoon , yeah it was a major relief to have passed the exam . If I was more organised and had made up my mind what I wanted to do, I would've spent more time preparing for the exam. But I really was clueless as to what I wanted to do, and it was a bit of a very last minute decision because I realised that my ECA documents would expire in the summer of this year (and they need to be valid when you apply for the evaluating exam). And so I thought it was now of never. And I'm glad I did apply, and just made the application deadline just in time. And that's great to hear you're going to go for it!

Because I started studying so late, I really more or less studied non-stop everyday to try to catch up, because the content of the evaluating exam really is quite vast - and that was what really put me off when i first looked into it. I also used Comprehensive Pharmacy Review for Naplex (CPR), plus also a set of notes from a preparatory course by a guy called Misbah, because someone else recommended it, and also there was a PDF copy of it floating around in some of the Facebook groups. I do remember Rangs , brings back memories. The pharmacology textbook that I found helpful was Lippincot's Pharmacology which has really good illustrations, and I found it easy to understand. But I'd say CPR is very good to cover a lot of what you'll need to know for the exam. It is heavy reading, but I'd say it's got good content. The actual exam was a bit unexpected - we learnt afterwards that it's now moving more towards therapeutics and less medicinal chemistry. But I'd recommend going through the syllabus and making sure you cover what's in it, and give yourself a good amount of time to prepare. The exam has a fair amount of pharmaceutics as well, and also calculations.

You'll probably have come across the Pharmacist's Gateway, which will give you more information on licensing for the different provinces:
https://www.pharmacistsgatewaycanada...d-to-know.html

I think the only province where the bridging programme is not mandatory is Alberta (and Ontario where it's waived if you pass both parts of the qualifying exam first time.) But the structured training in Ontario is still mandatory. I don't remember the length of that for Ontario, but I don't think it was as long as 3 months, but I could be wrong - i thought I'd check nearer the time after I pass my next exams, otherwise I'd feel overwhelmed trying to think about it all. On the above link, there is also a calculator which will give you an estimate of the time and cost to licensing for the different provinces.

I know what you mean about the IELTS :-/ doesn't make sense to have to prove your proficiency considering you've passed all the exams which were in English, and you come from an English-speaking country :-/.




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