Stagnant pay levels still a concern


In the first of a series analysing the findings of the 2017 UTS Pharmacy Barometer, Professor Charlie Benrimoj looks at pharmacists’ attitudes to pay levels

Remuneration is a hot-button issue for employed pharmacists. This is not just for those who own or work in community pharmacies but those looking to commit to seven years of study and professional placement to graduate as qualified pharmacists.

The latest UTS Community Pharmacy Barometer was released at the end of 2017. Now in its seventh “wave”, the Barometer assesses the relative health of the industry, its profitability and how pharmacists feel about certain important issues. It also tests for pharmacists’ levels of confidence for the future.

One of the more revealing recent results has been the stagnation and low level of pharmacist remuneration. For the past two surveys, almost seven in 10 pharmacists reported their pay levels have not changed over the previous 12 months.

For the very few employee pharmacists whose remuneration increased between 2016  and 2017, almost all went from earning $30-40 per hour to $40-50 per hour. Overall, the Barometer showed that more than 90% of employee pharmacists earned between just $30 and $50 per hour. There appears to be a slight upward trend in wages but no change for the majority.

 

Clearly, there is no shortage of qualified staff available to work in community pharmacies. Australian universities produce enough pharmacists to satisfy demand. But many of those graduates, as well as those who have been in the industry for some time, will question if they are not being paid enough to justify the valuable work they do in the community.

 

Ultimately, this may lead to widespread job dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction will have negative implications for owners and the profession because it could become more difficult to attract the best people. Universities need, for the long-term benefit of the profession and patients, to attract the best students and ensure they aren’t producing enough graduates but the right graduates.

 

The Barometer suggests a pathway to success. Pharmacists are increasingly becoming accustomed to the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) and this stability is injecting a sense of confidence in their economic and professional future. About 58% of owners believe the value of their pharmacy will increase or remain steady over the next 12 months. Should they now be sharing some of this prosperity with employees?

With a greater emphasis on delivering quality professional services under 6CPA, community pharmacies could discover even greater financial success.

Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj is head, Graduate School of Health and Professor of Pharmacy Practice, University of Technology Sydney

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