A majority of Australian pharmacists want to leave the profession, a poll suggests.

Medicine stands to be a major beneficiary if pharmacists follow through with their threat to leave the profession, an AJP poll suggests.

Around 1300 pharmacists voted in our poll, with 61% saying ‘Yes’ to the question “Are you considering leaving the profession”.

Another 21% said ‘maybe’, meaning four-fifths of the profession are currently reconsidering their future.

Many had moved, or were considering moving, to other areas of medical practice, according to comments received by AJP.

When asked by one respondent what those who were considering leaving the profession thought they would do as an alternative career, one respondent, Vicky, said “most of my friends have gone on to study medicine. One friend has gone on to become a dentist and another aerospace engineering!”

Another, Ash, said: “I’m in my final year of medicine – worked in pharmacy for 5 years and saw it going downhill. It’s sad how poorly retail pharmacy is thought of and it is an abysmal career choice. If I went back to customer service I would only be earning $2-3 less per hour than a pharmacist – but would be bored to tears”.

One respondent, Tanya, said poor working conditions for women with children was a key factor in her decision to move to accountancy.

“As a mum of three I can now actually work school hours and get paid a higher wage than as a pharmacist- without the stress and extreme demands. I have worked mostly unpaid in pharmacy for the past 4 years just to obtain the practice hours required for re-registering. Not anymore! I loved being a pharmacist but the opportunities are so narrow and paid work difficult to find for working mums”.

Another respondent said there was one thing keeping them in the profession: “The only thing stopping me is knowing that the ‘cheap’ pharmacies will then win, and where will that leave the customer who needs a chat, needs driving home because they’re confused, needs someone to take their BP and explain what its all about, needs someone to notice the constant injuries from ‘walking into doors’?

Its a really sad time for the profession and for those of us who love what we do but cannot see a sustainable future in it anymore”.

The Guild and PSA have been approached for comment, and any responses will be published in a later article. Go to our forum for further discussion on the issue.