Healthcare Assistant Course

Type of Study
Pharmacy Support Staff
Study Time
18 months
Online Course Cost
£190 (Exc VAT)
Entry Criteria
This course is for those working in a pharmacy in a patient facing role, both on the medicines counter and in the dispensary. The learner will require a pharmacist to act as supervising pharmacist during the course.
What's New

Our latest versions of our courses are now fully integrated into the b-Hive online learning platform. Some of the new features include:

  • Online learning on any device allowing learners to study at home, work or on the go
  • Interactive quizzes and content throughout the course
  • Accessibility mode enabling those with additional needs to work through the course online
  • Print friendly - our online courses are optimised for printing, even allowing completion of interactive content using QR codes on a smartphone
  • New online end of module tests with instant feedback
  • New Final Test in our online Test Zone
  • Real-time course tracking in b-Hive Analytics for the supervising pharmacist
Course Overview

The Healthcare Assistant Course takes learners through the practical and legal aspects of working in a dispensary and on the medicines counter. It covers knowledge and skills from both the Dispensing Assistant Course and the Medicines Counter Assistant Course, and meets the GPhC minimum training requirements for both dispensing assistants and medicines counter assistants.

How will this course benefit me?

This course develops confidence behind the counter and in the dispensary, providing the appropriate skills and knowledge to prepare for the challenges of both roles.

How is the course delivered?

All our courses are delivered by blended learning, via the b-Hive learning system. The course comprises 19 modules, end-of-module quizzes to assess knowledge, Virtual Pharmacy tasks to assess competence, activity books to be signed off by the supervising pharmacist and two Final Tests administered under exam conditions.


As well as online access to results and our FAQ section, learners can talk to dedicated tutors year-round, including at evenings and weekends, via our out of hours helpline. In addition, learners are supported throughout their course by a supervising pharmacist who is nominated on enrolment to review and invigilate work based activities and assessments, ensuring the learner is competent in the workplace. To aid them in this role the supervising pharmacist will have access to the b-Hive Learner Analytics dashboard through which they can easily filter and view the progress and expected progress of their learner(s). This dashboard will display real-time data to provide a snapshot of whether a learner is on target or requires further support on a particular area of the course.

The Course Content
Module 1
Keeping You and the Public Safe

Covers the key responsibilities with regards to health and safety, SOPs and safeguarding the public. Learners will understand the roles of the wider team and the importance of team work, and be introduced to effective communication and customer service.

Module 2
Communication and Consultation Skills

This module teaches the knowledge and skills required to communicate with customers more effectively. In addition, learners will understand considerations for selling over-the-counter medicines and providing healthcare advice.

Module 3
Receiving and Interpreting Prescriptions

This module teaches the knowledge and skills required to accept prescriptions presented to the dispensary and interpret the information on the prescription to ensure it is ready for dispensing.

Module 4
Knowledge for Assembling Prescriptions

This module introduces dispensary equipment, resources, calculations and abbreviations which underpin the dispensing processes required to dispense or label prescription items.

Module 5
Skills for Assembling Prescriptions

The module covers the practical processes and skills required to safely and hygienically dispense a prescription, including the checks each prescription will undergo.

Module 6

Learners will understand how to order, receive, maintain and issue dispensary stock, along with any administrative tasks associated with these processes.

Module 7
Controlled Drugs

This module focuses on the additional legislation and procedures required for handling and dispensing controlled drugs safely.

Module 8
Handing Out Prescriptions and Patient Counselling

This module teaches the knowledge and skills required to understand the role of the dispensing assistant in issuing prescriptions to patients and communicating effectively with patients regarding their dispensed medicines.

Module 9
Pain and Analgesia

This module is about pain, outlining the common minor ailments causing it, along with drug treatments available to treat it.

Module 10
Coughs and Colds

This module covers coughs and colds, their symptoms, treatments, the questions to ask and advice you should be giving, as well as reasons to refer.

Module 11
Gastrointestinal Problems

This module covers gastrointestinal problems, their symptoms, treatments, the questions to ask and advice that should be giving, as well as reasons to refer.

Module 12
Travel and Summer Health

Covers the medicines required by travellers, both to treat and prevent disease.

Module 13
Ears, Eyes and Mouth

This module is about problems of ears, the eyes and mouth, their symptoms, treatments, the questions to ask and advice that should be given, as well as reasons to refer.

Module 14
Skin, Hair and Feet

This module is about problems associated with skin, hair and feet, their symptoms, treatments, the questions to ask and advice that should be given, as well as reasons to refer.

Module 15
Women’s Health and Men’s Health

This module covers some minor ailments suffered by specific genders, how to treat them effectively and when to refer.

Module 16
Healthy Lifestyles

The MCA has an important role to play in promoting wellbeing and healthy lifestyles to the public. This module covers some of the healthy messages and advice that should be given to patients.

Module 17
Clinical Governance

This module introduces the concept of clinical governance within dispensaries, including error monitoring, error reduction, audits, information governance, whistleblowing and quality payments.

Module 18
Teamwork and Professional Development

Learners will understand importance of team work, including the wider multidisciplinary team, and develop communication skills and personal practice to deliver high quality care to patients.

Module 19
Wider Pharmacy Services

This module explores the services offered by pharmacies and other healthcare providers, to improve patient access to medicines, screening, services and advice, and how the dispensing assistant can support the wider team with this.