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: