This unit applies to community pharmacy employees working as dispensary assistants. Work is carried out under direction of a pharmacist. The role of dispensary assistants in assisting in the preparation of extemporaneous prescriptions is regulated by the state or territory pharmacy board. This unit should only be selected in states and territories that recognise a role for dispensary assistants in assisting a pharmacist with this activity.
Elements and Performance Criteria
Prepare to measure and mix ingredients.
Identify scope and boundaries of roles and responsibilities of dispensary assistants and pharmacists in the preparation of extemporaneous prescriptions.
Read and interpret common terms and abbreviations used in prescription writing.
Identify worksheet documentation for compounded products.
Confirm that compounding work area is clean and ready for use.
Confirm that measuring and mixing equipment is appropriate for the task and ready for use.
Select and fit appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment.
Follow personal hygiene procedures in preparation for handling materials.
Collect and measure required ingredients.
Identify ingredient requirements specified by the worksheet.
Locate and collect raw materials.
Measure ingredient quantities to meet worksheet requirements.
Prepare compounded products.
Prepare ingredients as required to meet worksheet requirements.
Combine ingredients as required to meet worksheet requirements.
Inspect prepared product to confirm product quality.
Confirm labelling and advice requirements with pharmacist and prepare labels.
Collect dispensing containers as specified by pharmacist.
Attach labels and other relevant cautionary and advisory advice to containers as directed.
Transfer final product to labelled containers.
Supply completed compound items, prescription and worksheet to a pharmacist for verification.
Check worksheet calculations and alert a pharmacist to any discrepancies.
Maintain the compounding materials and work area.
Return unused ingredients to storage and adjust stock records as required.
Monitor storage conditions to ensure product integrity is maintained.
Dispose of waste according to environmental requirements and pharmacy waste management procedures.
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 worksheet information and prepare labels in plain English
apply numeracy skills to follow pharmaceutical numerical conventions when recording quantities and units of measurement
demonstrate accurate use of measuring instrumentation
demonstrate use of appropriate mixing equipment and techniques
demonstrate procedures for packaging and labelling extemporaneous prescription items consistent with protocols and procedures
demonstrate procedures to safely dispose of waste
plan and organise work to meet compounding workflow requirements.
The following knowledge must be assessed as part of this unit:
pharmacy policies, protocols and procedures relating to assisting a pharmacist in the preparation of extemporaneous prescription medicines
role boundaries and responsibilities of the pharmacy assistant in assisting a pharmacist with compounding activities
OHS information and procedures:
OHS hazards and risks associated with materials and processes used
OHS information, such as chemical hazard codes and symbols
location and purpose of Material Safety Data Sheets
sources of information on pharmacopoeia names and common terms and abbreviations used in writing prescriptions
compounding work area equipment and layout
care and storage requirements for compounding equipment
equipment calibration schedules and responsibilities and procedures for checking calibration
cleaning methods and procedures:
for use with water-based ingredients
for use with oil-based ingredients
for disinfecting equipment and surfaces
hazards and control methods associated with cross-contamination
housekeeping checklist and responsibilities
storage conditions for ingredients pre- and post-compounding
raw material characteristics, including:
quality or grades
common terms and abbreviations used in writing prescriptions
methods to accurately measure liquids, including accurate reading of meniscus
procedures to determine cost of compounded products
properties and characteristics of ointments, creams, gels and pastes
mixing techniques to achieve even distribution of ingredients, including levigation
procedures used to protect safety of self and of product.
quality characteristics and inspection methods to confirm quality of final product.
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 preparation of extemporaneous prescriptions, including:
reading and interpreting compounding worksheets and any additional pharmacist directions
selecting required equipment and preparing it for use
selecting measuring instrumentation appropriate to the volumes required
measuring ingredients accurately
confirming quality requirements are met
filling compounded product into dispensary containers and preparing and attaching labels and relevant cautionary advice
recording prescription information using appropriate pharmacopoeia name or active ingredient and quantity
checking worksheet calculations and product costings
communicates effectively with a pharmacist to meet compounding requirements
applies OHS and personal hygiene practices
follows procedures for handling and storage of dispensary materials
maintains housekeeping standards in the compounding area and handle and dispose of waste according to environmental and waste handling procedures
plans and carries out work to meet compounding workflow requirements.
Context of and specific resources for assessment
Assessment must ensure:
demonstration of compounding activities over sufficient time to demonstrate handling of a range of contingencies
capacity to prepare a range of simple mixes, e.g. solution and suspension
performance is observed by the assessor or the technical expert working in partnership with the assessor.
a real workplace environment that meets Pharmacy Board and relevant industry standards for dispensary layout and equipment requirements for pharmacies engaged in supplying extemporaneous prescriptions
access to relevant pharmacy protocols and procedures
access to state and territory legislation and guidelines where appropriate
access to dispensary record-keeping systems
access to relevant documentation, such as:
prescriptions (real or simulated)
access to raw materials or ingredients and storage areas
access to cleaning and disinfecting materials and equipment
access to OHS clothing and 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:
a qualified workplace assessor or a technical expert working in partnership with the assessor to observe the dispensary assistant performing a range of compounding activities
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, for example:
SIRPDIS004A Assist in dispensary stock control
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.
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 preparing extemporaneous prescriptions 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 preparation of extemporaneous prescriptions.
Scope and boundaries of roles and responsibilities must comply with:
This must be consistent with federal and state or territory legislation and regulations. The legal boundaries of dispensary assistant job roles will vary according to state and territory requirements. Roles will also reflect the business model, policies, protocols and procedures of the community pharmacy.
Common abbreviations used in prescription writing refers to:
Abbreviations as detailed in the Australian Pharmaceutical Formulary and Handbook (APF), Pharmaceutical Society of Australia; and in the British Pharmacopoeia (BP), Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
Compounded products prepared to supply extemporaneous prescriptions are one-off items produced for a specific patient and may include:
dermatological preparations (simple creams)
APF or BP formulations for both adults and children
combined proprietary products
modified formulations, e.g. to remove colours or preservatives.
Measuring and mixing equipment may include:
volumetric containers, e.g. beakers and measuring cylinders
spatulas and mixing rods
mortar and pestle
Ready for use may include:
clean and may also be sanitised
no cracks, damaged surfaces or other visible damage
calibrated according to calibration schedule (refrigeration, weighing and measuring equipment)
Personal protective clothing and equipment may include:
safety glasses or goggles
appropriate footwear (closed, not open).
Personal hygiene procedures may include:
wash hands before and after compounding
tie back hair or use a hairnet
never eat or drink in the compounding work area
never store food next to ingredients used in compounding
do not wear jewellery or cosmetics, such as hand moisturiser or nail polish.
Prepare ingredients may include:
grinding or milling to reduce particle size
Checking worksheet calculations:
Responsibility for worksheet calculations rests with a pharmacist. The dispensary assistant may assist a pharmacist by double-checking calculations.
Storage conditions may include:
storage locations that protect product from light, humidity and heat
clearly displayed expiry dates on stock
containers that are tightly sealed.
Waste management may include:
sorting waste according to waste disposal requirements, e.g. placing sharps in designated container
disposing of materials that could be hazardous to the environment according to procedure
using spill control procedures as required.
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.