New program for training Pharmacy Technicians on Vancouver Island

Locally trained pharmacy technicians have a new, collaboratively developed program to streamline the growing need for work placements. 

In order to create innovative solutions that support local hospitals, pharmacies and other care settings, Island Health, Selkirk College and Vancouver Island University have teamed up to create a three-way partnership that will get students working locally as quickly as possible. We are actively recruiting and training pharmacy technicians to ensure patients have access to quality heath care close to where they live.

The 15-month long program is delivered using a blend of online theory courses taught by Selkirk College, in-person lab classes delivered by Vancouver Island University where students practice what it’s like to work in a pharmacy, and ten weeks of practicum in a hospital and community setting. Currently, there are openings for pharmacy technicians in Vancouver Island hospitals, long term care homes, and community settings, with an average starting salary of $50,000. 

“Pharmacy technicians play a crucial role in both hospital and community pharmacies,” said Leah Hollins, Island Health Board Chair. “They perform essential duties related to prescription processing, medication packaging, compounding medications, and ordering and tracking of inventory. Additionally, in the hospital setting, they interview patients to ensure an accurate list of medications is available to the healthcare team. Without them, our medication system would collapse.”

With one month to go until she graduates, Nanaimo’s Ainslie Horwood says the program offered her much needed flexibility in how she learned. 

“I was originally attracted to the program because I could do the schooling online from my own home in Nanaimo, travel a short distance to Duncan for the lab work, and stay in my home town while completing my practicums,” Horwood said. “This course far exceeded my expectations though. It is taught by some amazing instructors who are really passionate about their profession and it rubbed off on me. I felt really well-prepared for both of my practicums at the Medicine Shoppe and the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.”

Nanaimo’s Hayley Price graduated from the Pharmacy Technician program in 2017 and currently works at the Cowichan District Hospital. “Before completing the Pharm Tech Program, I had no idea what a pharmacy technician was or what they did past counting pills in a retail pharmacy,” Price said. “It is a lot more involved and in-depth than I originally thought but I absolutely love it! Working in a hospital setting I am continually challenged by the large variety of things we do from dispensing drugs and typing up medication orders to purchasing medications and compounding sterile hazardous IV medications for the hospital’s chemotherapy infusion clinic.”

“The role of a pharmacy technician has changed a lot over the last 25 years and it is now a regulated profession,” said Dr. Sean Spina, Island Health’s Regional Clinical Pharmacy Manager.. “Selkirk College’s program, in partnership with Vancouver Island University and Island Health, provides the education, support, and hands-on training any pharmacy technician needs to thrive. I am really pleased with the calibre of graduates who are currently in their practicums with Island Health. They will make excellent employees wherever they decide to practice.” 

Selkirk College is now accepting applications for the program's next intake, which begins in August 2024.

For inquiries, contact for more information.

For more information about pharmacy careers at Island Health:

For information about the 15-month Pharmacy Technician diploma program: