Assist in dispensary operations

This unit covers skills and knowledge required to work in a dispensary to assist a pharmacist to prepare prescriptions and maintain records.


This unit applies to community pharmacy employees working as dispensary assistants. Work is carried out under direction of a pharmacist.


SIRPPKS001A Support the sale of pharmacy and pharmacist-only medicines.

Elements and Performance Criteria




Identify job roles and functions within a dispensary.


Identify scope and boundaries of roles and responsibilities of dispensary assistants and pharmacists.


Read and understand common terms and abbreviations used in prescription writing.


Identify prescribed medicine product categories.


Identify dispensarylayout and workflow features.


Assemble and prepare prescription items.


Refer customer history to a pharmacist.


Record prescription and customer data and flag details requiring pharmacist attention.


Prepare labels to provide required information in a form that is clear and legible.


Select prescribed medicines and scan as required.


Attach labels and other relevant cautionary and advisory advice to containers.


Check that label information is legible and complete.


Supply completed prescription items and paperwork to a pharmacist for verification.


Maintaindispensary systems and records

Required Skills

This section describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level, required for this unit.

The following skills must be assessed as part of this unit:

apply literacy skills to read and interpret prescription information, record customer information and prepare labels in plain English

demonstrate procedures for assembling and preparing prescription items consistent with protocols and procedures

apply protocols and procedures for selecting bio-equivalent generic medicines

use dispensary information system to maintain customer history details and identify alerts or warnings for pharmacist referral

maintain dispensary to meet good housekeeping requirements

plan and organise work to meet dispensary workflow requirements.

The following knowledge must be assessed as part of this unit:

pharmacy policies, protocols and procedures relating to assisting in dispensary activities

dispensary workflow and layout

procedures for controlling accessing and maintaining security of the dispensary

sources of information on common terms and abbreviations used in writing prescriptions

major drug categories

literacy skills to confirm that label information is legible and expressed in plain English

communication methods and systems to operate as part of a team and provide relevant information to a pharmacist and other pharmacy staff as required

dispensary databases and information systems

pricing policy and procedures

dispensary housekeeping checklist and responsibilities

role boundaries and responsibilities of the dispensary assistant in assisting a pharmacist with dispensing activities

customer entitlements to privacy and confidentiality.

Evidence Required

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, the range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package.

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit

Evidence of the following is essential:

applies pharmacy protocols and procedures when assisting with dispensary operations, including:

selecting and assembling medicines to meet prescription requirements

labelling and packaging dispensed items according to procedure and pharmacist direction

maintaining customer and prescription data

identifying situations or requests requiring referral to a pharmacist and referring appropriately

respects and protects customer privacy when communicating with customers and maintaining customer records

locates relevant information, such as common abbreviations and terms used in writing prescriptions

recognises situations requiring referral to a pharmacist or other pharmacy staff according to pharmacy policy

maintains housekeeping standards in the dispensary

plans and carries out work to meet dispensary workflow requirements.

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Assessment must ensure:

demonstration of dispensing activities over a period of time

performance is observed by the assessor, or the technical expert working in partnership with the assessor.

assessment must be undertaken in a real workplace environment that meets Pharmacy Board and relevant industry standards for dispensary operations

access to relevant pharmacy protocols and procedures.

access to state or territory legislation and guidelines where appropriate

access to dispensary record-keeping systems

access to relevant documentation, such as prescriptions (real or simulated)

access to a range of customers with different requirements (real or simulated).

access to a range of medicines and related equipment.

Methods of assessment

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

observation of the candidate in the workplace performing a range of dispensing tasks, over sufficient time to demonstrate handling of a range of contingencies.

written or verbal questioning to assess knowledge and understanding.

evidence that completion of workplace documentation and records relevant to compounding operations is timely and accurate.

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended.

Assessing employability skills

Employability skills are integral to effective performance in the workplace and are broadly consistent across industry sectors. How these skills are applied varies between occupations and qualifications due to the different work functions and contexts.

Employability skills embedded in this unit should be assessed holistically in the context of the job role and with other relevant units that make up the skill set or qualification.

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording in the performance criteria is detailed below.

Assisting in dispensary operations must comply with:

federal and state or territory legislation

industry codes of practice, standards and guidelines

community pharmacy policies, protocols and procedures relating to assisting a pharmacist in dispensary operations.

Scope and boundaries of roles and responsibilities must comply with:

federal and state or territory legislation and regulations

business mode, policies, protocols and procedures of the community pharmacy

Common terms and abbreviations used in prescription writing refers to:

Abbreviations as detailed in the Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary (APF), Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, and in the British Pharmacopoeia (BP), Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Dispensarylayout and workflow may include:

sequential positioning along shelves

alphabetical arrangement

controlled substances under specific storage conditions

grouping of pharmacist-only medicine


Details requiring pharmacist attention may include:

previous medical history

previous experience and reactions to the medication


possible interactions and contra-indications.

Selection of prescribed medicines may include:

desired form of medication

required quantity

appropriate packaging.

Attach labels requires:

correct labels are used

placement of labels does not obscure expiry date and batch number.

Label information may include:

name of customer

details of pharmacy

date of dispensing

directions for use

prescription number or code

special storage requirements, such as cold chain

expiry date

generic and brand names

strength and form of medication

ancillary cautionary or advisory labels.

Maintain dispensary systems and records may include:

reviewing and updating customer medication records

maintaining prescriber records

maintaining medication and drug records

maintaining dispensing and prescription records

maintaining supply of cautionary and advisory information

dispensing activity summaries

reconciling prescription records with claims documentation

updating system software

carrying out data back-up.



Community Pharmacy

Competency Field


Employability Skills

The required outcomes described in this unit contain applicable facets of employability skills. The Employability Skills Summary of the qualification in which this unit is packaged will assist in identifying employability skills requirements.

Licensing Information

Not applicable.