Assist in preparing extemporaneous prescriptions

This unit covers skills and knowledge required to assist a pharmacist to measure ingredients and prepare basic mixes to fill extemporaneous prescriptions.


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.


SIRPPKS001A Support the sale of pharmacy and pharmacist-only medicines

SIRPDIS003A Assist in dispensary operations

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.

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 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.

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 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

mixing ingredients

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)

compounding worksheets

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.

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 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

reconstituted products

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

mixing slabs

mortar and pestle


heating equipment

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)

tared (scales).

Personal protective clothing and equipment may include:


safety glasses or goggles


face masks

lab coats

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

temperature-controlled storage

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.



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.