Welcome to my blog where I am recording my experiences as an international graduate in pharmacy who has returned home to Canada to practice…..so I thought. My aim here is to educate pharmacists/graduates who are qualified overseas on my personal experiences of pharmacy here, specifically in Ontario. Just a quick background information, I was born and raised in Canada and I decided to do my pharmacy degree at an university overseas in an English-speaking western country. I have now graduated and currently going through the “lovely” process of being registered in Ontario.
My goal in this blog is to help students make informed decisions and understand the current condition of pharmacy in Canada from the point of view of an international student hopefully save you a lot of stress and possibly money!
So the OCP has finally granted you studentship status and you can finally start your training and your amazing career right? WRONG!!!!!
Unfortunately pharmacies in Ontario (private and corporations) no longer include studentships (they only accept internships) in their budget so it is extremely difficult to find a pharmacy to take you on. Even if you offer to do it for free you will still find yourself searching many months down the road. Also, you have to compete with graduates from both Toronto and Waterloo who grab positions everywhere including both rural and city areas. Pharmacies also prefer graduates from these two universities, followed by universities from the rest of Canada, then the US and finally other English countries such as England, Australia and New Zealand. If you didn’t get your degree from one of these countries then your chances are even slimmer. I am in no way suggesting your degree is inferior but I literally was asked when I applied to pharmacies where I did my degree and trust me if you didn’t get it from Ontario or other Canadian provinces/territories be prepared to be rejected over and over again. Finally, it’s enough that you have to compete with the Toronto graduates in spring when they graduate but also be aware the Waterloo graduates graduate at various times of the year so basically the competition is all year round.
Another major factor to consider is the role of pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians are also regulated by the OCP and they require preceptors too so you will also find in many instances that when you contact the pharmacy that the pharmacist is too busy to take you on because they are training the pharmacy technicians. Due to the economy, pharmacies have tight budgets and pharmacy technicians can do the dispensing duties of a pharmacist so it is cheaper to hire more pharmacy techs than hire pharmacists. So you’ll find yourself competing with the pharmacy techs even after you get your license in Ontario.
Good luck to you all!
So you have completed all the PEBC exams and think the hard part is over? All your worries are over and you can move on with your life and start your ‘amazing’ Canadian pharmacy career? WRONG!!!!
If you failed one of the qualifying exams (not sure about the evaluation exam) then you will be required by the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) to undertake the international pharmacy graduate program (IPG) at the University of Toronto. This will require months of more university courses, tuition, rent in Toronto and etc. It definitely is not worth the effort, stress and money especially considering a pharmacy career in Ontario has gone downhill recently. If you can do something else with your life and be happy, get out while you still can! I can’t give much advice in this instance as I did not fail any of my exams (thank goodness!) but whilst I waited for my marks and contemplated what I would do if I failed, I knew I wouldn’t do the IPG even if that meant leaving pharmacy for good…it’s just not worth it, life is too short.
If you are like me and passed all your exams on the first attempt then it’s a walk in the park from here and you will start your studentship shortly……WRONG!!!
You still have to convince the OCP that you don’t need to do the IPG and this takes time. First of all, you have to register as a student by filling out more forms and paying the fees. EVERYONE needs to prove their English proficiency even if you’re like me and was born and grew up in Ontario and did my pharmacy degree in an English speaking country. You’ll have to contact the OCP and find out how you can fulfill this requirement. Most people do the IELTS but the OCP website lists several acceptable English exams and the required mark….great fun and more money.
If your application for registration as a student has been processed and accepted, the next step is trying to convince the OCP that you don’t need to take IPG. Good Luck!
This is the first exam international students must write. It is a painful 2-day exam with a total of 300 multiple choice questions. The actual exam is not so much the most difficult part but rather the studying. Since the exam covers every topic you’ve learned during the 4 years of degree, you are rushed to cover all the topics. PEBC lists all the references for this exam but do they honestly think that we have all the time in world to read all those references? Personally I just bought a couple of cheap pharmacy review text books, and read the TC. But the icing on the cake was spending half a year (the exam is only offered in July and January) studying all this jargon I already learned in university and that I will never use again such as the partition coefficient, ionization, HLB and etc. In fact right after I finished on the last day of the exam, I forgot it all and never did use it again. Gee thank you PEBC, I really enjoyed wasting $515 on an exam that is as useful as my old pharmaceutical science textbook which I can’t get rid of because it’s USELESS.
Now before any of you naive little grasshoppers try to come up with some reason for writing a big ass waste of a time, let me tell you that nobody cares if you pass the exam even on the first try, employers don’t care and it wont give you that competitive edge….sorry been there and done that. Also, all you idiots out there who spend from hundreds to thousands of dollars on preparation courses are morons. The exam topics were covered during your 4 year degrees and yes most of us forget it but that’s why there are cheap pharmacy review books and lots of practice questions you can download from the internet for free! For any of you out there who has failed this exam my one and only advice for you is get out while you still can, because it gets, wait for it,………even HARDER!
Let me just start off by saying this is probably the easiest step in Canadian registration. You just fill out the forms, send your documents (degree certificate, transcript, passport photos etc) and pay the fee of about 500 something dollars. To be fair, document evaluation fee is cheaper compared to other countries….there’s one positive. The downside is that it takes a long time for them to process your application and in the end they are very vague if your application is ok. If you are stressed at this point then heed my warning, it gets a lot worse.