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Career Options

Gaining a Pharmacy qualification enables unique career and workplace options. Check out the variety of career options below:

Community pharmacy

Community Pharmacy or Retail Pharmacy is a popular career choice and the majority of candidates commence work in the field of community pharmacy. Community Pharmacists work in a retail environment such as a local chemist and are responsible for dispensing prescribed medication, checking prescriptions written by doctors, and preparing and dispensing medicines to the general public. Community Pharmacists also sell pre-packaged ‘over the counter’ medicines and advise people upon their use.

Hospital/clinical pharmacy

Hospital Pharmacists are responsible for making sure that patients receive the most appropriate medicines in the most effective way. They prepare and dispense medicines and advise doctors, nurses and other health professionals on correct dosage, when and how medicines should be given, potential unwanted effects of medicines and possible interactions between medicines.

Hospital and Clinical Pharmacy involves working in a hospital environment as part of the patient-care team working alongside doctors and nurses (maybe 2 or 3 in smaller hospitals, or as many as 40 to 50 in larger ones). Choices include large or small hospitals, country or city hospitals, general or specialist hospitals. In a rural hospital, pharmacists are an important part of the community.

A Clinical pharmacist will plan and monitor a patient’s individual medication schedule, in consultation with other health care professionals and provides patient care that optimizes the use of medication and promotes health, wellness and disease prevention.

They monitor drug therapy to detect and/or minimise the risk of drug interactions and side effects. Many hospital pharmacists attain specialist status in selected therapeutic areas such as cardiology, immunology, manufacturing, haematology, oncology, paediatrics, aged care and anticoagulation.

Most clinical pharmacists have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and many have completed one or more years of post-graduate training (e.g. a general and/or specialty pharmacy residency).

Aged care pharmacy (Long-term care facilities / Consultancy)

There are many different types of Long Term Care (LTC) facilities including Residential Aged Care Facilities. Aged Care Facilities provide several different levels of care and have a variety of different health professionals including nurses and physicians. Generally the nature of the relationship between the pharmacists and facility is contractual; therefore LTC Pharmacists are often called Consultant Pharmacists.

A consultant pharmacist role is to provide medication reviews for care patients and/or other medication related cognitive services.

Alternatively, a facility may contract a Community pharmacy to provide Dose Administration Aid (DAA) packing services; it is therefore possible for a Pharmacist to specialise in these aged care services.

Academia

A career in academia can take you down a number of paths. Generally a full time academic will be expected to divide their time between teaching student, participating in committees and undertaking research. Teaching may include undergraduate and post graduate courses, as well as coordinating course/course materials and general administration duties. Teaching is likely to include lecturing large groups or mentoring a small tutorial group.

The research component of academia may include the supervision of honors, masters and PhD programs as well as publishing the outcomes of research projects and obtaining research grant funding.

Graduates may seek employment in fulltime research work or choose to pursue a research-based higher degree. Pharmacy graduates with research experience are sought after candidates for senior roles in the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical Industry

The Australian pharmaceuticals industry comprises bio-medical research, biotechnology firms, originator and generic medicines companies and service-related segments including wholesaling and distribution. With exports of $3.9 billion in 2012-13, pharmaceuticals were one of Australia’s major manufactured exports. The industry employed approximately 16,500 people in manufacturing and spent around $404 million on pharmaceutical manufacturing R&D in 2011-12. Sales of complementary medicines are worth around $2 billion a year.

In 2012, pharmaceutical sales in Australia made up a significant share of the global market, and ranked Australia as the twelfth largest consumer market, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics Report 2012.

The pharmaceuticals industry receives significant financial support from the Australian Government through the sales of medicines listed in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS); and the R&D tax incentive. There are approximately 140 separate firms listed as suppliers to the PBS

The pharmaceutical industry offers pharmacists a unique and different approach to pharmacy. It can involve:

  • Engaging and influencing both government and non government organizations from a pharmacy and company perspective.
  • Engaging the pharmaceutical industry on how to effectively engage the community.
  • Representing your employer to develop guidelines and education programs to assist pharmacists in effectively promoting and counseling consumers.
  • Travel! If you like travelling, working in the pharmaceutical industry can offer the opportunity to work on products that need to be rolled out across a region, such as the Asia-Pacific region.

Industrial pharmacy

Because of the broad medical knowledge and skills obtained as part of the Pharmacy degree, graduates are also well suited for employment in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacists are sought after in the manufacturing, medical, sales and marketing sectors of the industry.

Pharmacy graduates have the potential to take part in all stages of drug utilisation, from development and production to registration, clinical assessment, and sales and marketing of products to health care professionals. Employment in the pharmaceutical industry may also provide experience in business development and travel within Australia and overseas.

Rural pharmacy

Rural Pharmacy offers a different set of challenges and rewards to Pharmacy practiced in metropolitan or large regional areas.

High levels of satisfaction can be achieved from the varied range of work performed and from being a respected member of rural communities.

Apart from living minutes from work, other benefits include:

  • Practicing pharmacy as part of a close-knit regional health team.
  • Deriving a high level of satisfaction from the diverse range of work that can be performed.
  • Being a respected member of a rural community.

There are many choices to consider with rural pharmacy. You may prefer to live in a small town minutes from work or a large regional centre, where you can commute to your workplace in a nearby town. 

As there is a high demand for rural pharmacists and currently a shortage of skilled pharmacists in rural areas, rural pharmacy offers great opportunities for graduates looking for Internships. There are many programs in place to assist pharmacists and professional development opportunities.

With these shortages, also comes an opportunity to secure a higher rate of pay and other additional benefits, such as accommoation and relocation expenses not available in metro areas.


Other

There are many other options for pharmacists to consider such as being employed by government agencies both federal and state, defence, universities, and often may involve the supply and distribution of medicines and medicinal preparations.