Pharmacy in crisis


Pharmacy recruitment specialist Sue Muller says the staffing situation in community pharmacy is the worst it has ever been

As I sit at my office desk on a beautiful Sunday attempting to fill half a dozen locums that commence tomorrow, I reflect on the state of this industry.

It was only about 5 years or so ago that we were told that there was an oversupply of pharmacists. Now in 2019 the situation is the worst I have seen it in my 32 years in this business.

A day does not go past when we do not have calls for at least 2 emergency locums for the same day as pharmacists have called in sick. Where are the days when we used to pop 2 Panadols and go in rain, hail or shine? I would never in my wildest dreams have contemplated calling my boss on the morning of my shift and telling him I had a headache or a sore throat. How have we come to this?

It was common knowledge that rural pharmacies struggled to recruit permanent pharmacists but this has now spread to the metro areas as well. The obvious solution was to provide locums until a permanent could be sourced but now locums are scarce or booked up months in advance. The pressure it puts on our industry is enormous.

Community Pharmacy is certainly not the flavour of the month as far as graduates are concerned. I see two main reasons. Graduate pharmacists’ first choice will mostly be hospital pharmacy followed closely by industry roles.

What is the attraction? Money?

Secondly, pharmacy is commonly used as an undergraduate degree in order to study medicine, dentistry or anything that pays more than pharmacy.

Previously we did have the option of overseas candidates but pharmacy was removed from the skilled migration list. Short term gain, long term consequence.

Where does that leave me? Trying to pull rabbits out of a hat on a Sunday when I should be enjoying the beautiful sunny Sydney day.

More importantly, it leaves me trying to find pharmacists to fill the critical roles they play in our everyday lives.

Sue Muller is a pharmacist and founder of LocumCo, pharmacy recruitment specialists. This article, which was first published on the LocumCo website, was reproduced with permission  

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