Why recruiting pharmacy staff on cost alone is a mistake

pharmacy staff

There’s much more to staffing than how little you can pay your pharmacy staff, writes Nick Logan

I recently had the pleasure of attending the presentation of the NSW Pharmacy Assistant of the Year Awards, and was gobsmacked by the quality of applicants.

All pharmacists claim time-poorness these days, so functions like these are ideal opportunities to efficiently network and steal ideas from some of the best of your colleagues.

The most important thing I took away from the evening came when a fellow pharmacist said to me, “Owners who recruit based on how little they have to pay someone just don’t get it”.

The initiative and pride displayed by the finalists made it very clear that they are all very valuable to their own pharmacy on lots of levels. These employees were not just commercial investments, but were deeply invested in the culture of their pharmacies.

All of the finalists had a clear understanding of modern pharmacies and their requirements for a health focus and logistical solutions for services.

It simply makes sense to identify, recruit and invest in quality, motivated pharmacy staff through wages and training. Clinical and business training are rarely a waste of time for any staff, provided they have a learning “action plan” with clear goals front and centre at all times.

Time and money invested in development should always have tangible and realistic outcomes.

Empowering motivated staff can be highly rewarding as well. Recently an employee at my pharmacy in Artarmon identified the changing demography in our suburb, and recommended we set up an early childhood service.

I issued her a challenge: to show me the demand for the service (and invested about $3 in a new clipboard) and withinn weeks she had gathered the email addresses of more than 100 new local parents.

Communication with staff is very important, and a regular forum as part of your rostered training or staff appraisals is essential to encouraging ownership and buy-in of projects being developed by your team.

The evolution of the Community Pharmacy Agreement in Australia and the growing need for a health focus to leverage health-related sales means that pharmacists’ wages are best spent when you maximise their professional interaction with your customers.

It also means that there is no time like the present to offload logistical tasks to non-pharmacist staff.

Think about the following in relation to your pharmacy:

  • Imagine a Nirvana where pharmacists spend their day interacting professionally, face-to-face with customers, while specialised staff manage the dispensary, sales and logistics of the business.
  • Imagine a non-pharmacist collating the expenditure and remuneration for your professional services while setting goals and evolving the logistical efficiency.
  • Imagine the time that would be freed up for your stable of high-achieving well-trained pharmacists to be delighting your customers with their attention.


I believe the future of Australian pharmacy is in knowledgeable and accessible pharmacists prioritising professional interaction, and maximising the commercial benefits of those interactions, while being well supported by specifically trained and motivated staff.

The trick, I guess, is to identify and recruit staff based on their potential and then develop and reward their journey toward the next level of primary health care in Australia. It’s fun.


Nick Logan is the proprietor of Artarmon’s Nick Logan Pharmacist Advice, one of Australia’s first forward pharmacies and the winner of Pharmacy of the Year in 2009.

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1 Comment

  1. Karalyn Huxhagen

    Excellent article Nick. Taking the brave step to add in a motivated and talented graduate is a balance when looking at your P and L in these tough times. The energy and drive that these very motivated pharmacists can bring to the team is uplifting and gives us all a new perspective on how to improve our delivery model.

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