Pay rates remain biggest concern for students

young person waiting to start their career

Annual survey finds positive attitudes towards future employment, however concern remains around hospital placements, wages and the growth of discount pharmacies

Students are feeling positive about their future employment, according to the findings from the National Pharmacy Students Survey (NPSS) 2019.

“The mood is quite positive at the moment,” NAPSA president Erin Cooper recently told AJP.

“When I first started studying [four years ago], I feel like there was this myth going around that there were no jobs in pharmacy … But I feel like that has changed a lot especially with the students.

“There is a lot more positive approach to the future we have as pharmacists – we have somewhere to go, and there’s no concern about jobs or future employment.”

However pay rates still remain the biggest concern for students entering the profession, consistent with previous years’ responses.

The increasing prevalence of discount pharmacies was also seen as a significant issue for students, as was the struggle for identity in healthcare provision.

Findings showed that around two in every five students believe that they do not receive adequate exposure to hospital pharmacy during their studies to prepare them for hospital employment, although this number had improved slightly compared to previous years.

In comparison to results from the 2018 NPSS, there was a slight increase in the percentage of students who believe they have received enough guidance in applying for hospital employment.

Despite this, 32% of students surveyed said they did not receive enough guidance in applying for hospital employment.

While community and hospital pharmacy remain the two most popular career choices for pharmacy students, results showed there is increasing interest in research and general practice pharmacy when compared to previous years.

“Students are becoming increasingly aware of other fields within the pharmacy profession and the 2019 NPSS results indicate this with increasing interest in fields besides hospital and community pharmacy,” said NAPSA.

The survey also found that around 60% of students believe undertaking a rural placement during their studies should be mandatory.

However when asked to consider rural community practice, only 29% of students could see themselves working in a rural setting in the future.

Among those who undertook a rural placement, around half said the experience positively swayed them to consider rural practice.

The greatest perceived barriers to rural placements were accommodation and funding.

Consistent with previous years, students still believe that mental health first aid (MHFA) training should be a requirement of the Pharmacy Board of Australia to become a registered pharmacist.

“Students are becoming increasingly aware of how prevalent mental health issues are and it is amazing to see that so many students want to improve their knowledge and skills to handle these cases effectively,” said Ms Cooper.

“Overall, we are excited by the results from the 2019 NPSS. We look forward to continuing our support and advocacy for our members, especially regarding employment, education and other workforce issues,” she said.

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