Are you satisfied with your pay and working conditions?

Many pharmacy graduates say they are turning their backs on the industry, but how much do satisfaction levels or work-life balance play a role

While there are many anecdotal reports that pharmacy graduates are leaving the profession, there is no real evidence to back these up or quantify the impact, says Dr Jean Spinks from the Centre for Applied Health Economics at Griffith University.

This was the motivation for launching a new survey for people who have a pharmacy degree in Australia, the researcher and pharmacist tells AJP.

Dr Spinks and colleagues want to find out “if that was the case, whether the levels of satisfaction within the profession are a driving factor, or whether there’s other reasons why people would be leaving the profession.”

A recent survey by Professional Pharmacists Australia found morale in the profession is not good, with more than 80% of pharmacists saying they would not recommend pharmacy as a career.

The top three factors contributing towards unhappiness across all community pharmacists were the ‘pressure/stress of work’, ‘inadequate staffing’ and ‘poor pay’.

“Many pharmacists are turning their backs on the industry, saying they see no future in the profession,” said the PPA in a statement.

However Dr Spinks wants to look into all potential factors that could be at play and what could be done to improve job satisfaction.

“We’re collecting information about how influential wage and conditions are on employment decision or whether it’s more general factors that we know can influence [employment] like having a young family or working in a rural location versus an urban location,” she says.

“Work decisions are more than just about pay and conditions. Family and personal circumstances, location and professional roles are also important.

“We want to better understand what is motivating pharmacists to make their work decisions and how policy change can enhance their job satisfaction and promote work/life balance.

“Without this information, we do not know what the bulk of the pharmacist workforce want.”

It’s about trying to understand from the grassroots up the experience of people who have a pharmacy degree and why they’re making particular decisions.

The PAMELA (Pharmacy in Australia: Measuring Employment, Labour decision, and Activity 2019) survey is open to anyone with a pharmacy degree.

It has been endorsed by the PSA and supported by pharmacy schools across Australia.

“Even people who have left the profession can answer the survey, so we ask them why they’ve left and to see whether they look different in a number of ways to the people who have stayed,” says Dr Spinks.

Data on the pharmacy workforce “is a bit of an evidence-free zone at the moment,” she explains.

“It’s about trying to understand from the grassroots up the experience of people who have a pharmacy degree and why they’re making particular decisions, so the more people that are involved the better we understand that decision making.

“People can have their say, for example, saying ‘this is making me happy to do these particular roles’ or ‘I’d rather be doing something else’, and whether that differs by age and gender and those types of factors is very important.”

“We want to give that information back to the profession. We’re working closely with PSA and SHPA and we’re happy to work with the Pharmacy Guild and government departments as well, to help provide some evidence around employment decisions and how factors influence that for pharmacists and some of the leaders, policymakers and professional organisations can use to improve the profession going forward.”

She encourages all people with a pharmacy degree to get involved in the survey.

“The more people that have their say, the more powerful the information is,” says Dr Spinks.

“Ultimately too we really want to link the workforce with the population health need. Very often workforce planning is done based on previous services provided.

“However because the pharmacy profession is changing so much and people are moving into extended roles … we want to link workforce planning with the population health need.”

The PAMELA survey will be open until the end of November. Have your say today!

Please access the survey by clicking on the following link: 

More information about PAMELA and who is involved can be found here:

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  1. patrick Mahony

    The issue is not graduates leaving the profession as the major problem but those turning 40 with 15 years experience leaving the profession. If you analyse the APHRA annual reports back to the first published in 2010 which lists the number registered in each 5 year cohort, you will see there is a peak at aged 40 when pharmacists no longer wish to be registered, they do not pay their fees at that time. The next highest peaks are at age 65 and 50.
    This experience cannot be replaced and the PAMELA survey is not addressing this.
    I call this the PhEXIT syndrome
    The possible reasons for PhEXITs;
    • Pay and entitlements as well as funding streams for experienced qualified pharmacists
    • Inability to expand role into pharmacy ownership
    • Career crises, profession fatigue or advancement frustration
    • Changing career options including additional tertiary qualifications
    • More active parenting requirements
    • Partner career change or relocations

    • Sheshtyn Paola

      Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for your comment.
      I believe the PAMELA survey does hope to address this as it is recruiting all people with a pharmacy degree (in or out of the profession), across the age spectrum. This is exactly the kind of information they are trying to collect.
      Feel free to complete the survey yourself and add your voice to the mix, as well as share with any pharmacists you may know.
      Kind regards,
      Sheshtyn Paola (Author, AJP)

      • TALL POPPY

        Can confirm many pharmacists want to leave the profession – more so than years gone by. Reasons are:

        1. Lack of pay advancement – many non-professional roles pay as much or more without requiring a university degree.
        2. By age 40 many pharmacists can afford to buy a pharmacy outright (i do not recommend partnership for obvious reasons unless with a trusted on-site owner as a pre-requisite). They simply do not have this opportunity as the vast majority of decent pharmacies are sold off-market to big shots in the industry by brokers that service them as a priority.
        3. The discount model – cheapening the pharmacist and their role immensely. Cheap-looking work environments supplemented by over-sized name badges etc. Pharmacists are now fielding queries over price more than ever!
        4. Many pharmacists by 40 are seeing through the profession as extremely retail and profit focused. This isn’t what they signed up for at uni!

        4. Increased work demands, responsibilities and therefore stress – all this ‘expanding roles’ and increased services are simply not popular with the coal-face pharmacist as they do not get any direct remuneration increase.

  2. Kevin Hayward

    I have worked in pharmacy for over 40 years, I have had some good employment opportunities with some remarkable people, I have also had some disappointing experiences with employers who were not up to the mark. The vast majority of my working life has been self employed, you set your own standard, pay ,conditions and quality of life. If you don’t like it, only one person to blame. If you want to make money, opportunities latterly outside of pharmacy have served me well

    • Paul Sapardanis

      Can’t wait to see the results of this study. People with pharmacy degrees are leaving community pharmacy in their droves. We have so many new graduates coming through a plethora of universities yet we are undergoing a pharmacist shortage???? Why???

      • Kevin Hayward

        Anecdotally I have noticed many of the medical students I have accommodated recently had a BPharm.

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