Pharmacy pay: what you said

A selection of reader comments on our recent story on the pharmacy pay issue, plus a look at what the public are saying

Our recent story ‘Could poor pay deter best candidates‘ has attracted a deluge of comments from AJP readers.

In the story , the union for employee pharmacists said its report into remuneration for community and hospital pharmacists showed pharmacy graduates are the lowest paid graduates in the country.

The full-time median salary for graduate pharmacists was $49,600. This was the lowest of all graduate salaries, while dentistry ($84,000) and medicine ($75,000) were the highest.

Here’s a selection of the responses from AJP readers:

“COULD POOR PAY DETER BEST CANDIDATES? It depends on whom you ask. A typical pharmacy owner/manager would describe the BEST candidate as someone that can dispense/check 40 scripts/hour, administer 20 vaccinations/day, check 15 webster packs/day, write up 10 CIs and 2 MedsChecks per day. Most importantly, the LEAST VALUABLE asset a candidate can bring to the business is the clinical knowledge, since it may dissuade customers from making a purchase and also generates no direct profit on its own. More importantly, getting too clinical in the community setting can significantly lower your KPIs and impact work flow. A big no no.

If you ask the patients, they would say they want their pharmacy experience to be FAST and CHEAP”.

-James O’Loughlin

“And it’s about to get a whole lot worse!
With telehealth consultations and token prescriptions now a norm, a major disruption is in store for pharmacists across Australia.
You can now order all your prescription and OTC medicines without ever having to visit the actual pharmacy. Technology is disrupting pharmacy at a faster rate than ever before in our profession and no one is really talking about it.
In the next 5-10 years, a substantial portion of Community pharmacists will be nothing but glorified pick packers working in large warehouses processing token prescriptions and packing orders. They’ll earn minimum wage and work the late shift for the extra crumbs”.

-Red Pill

“I was working as a pharmacist in charge with one of the big discount chemists for several years before moving to hospital pharmacy. Not only was I getting paid peanuts (as listed in the Pharmacy Industry Awards), the working environment was extremely stressful and the owner of the branch expected me to manage the store while dispensing at the same time. Furthermore, due to unrealistic budget targets, the store was frequently short staffed and customers would be complaining due to the lack of staff”.

-Disgruntled pharmacist

“As an employee decline to undertake Vaccination training unless significant extra remuneration is on the table. I’ve advised this to many pharmacists previously. Simple. And it works.

Now this is more important than ever with groups persuing COVID vax dollars…
I’ve seen too many pharmacist employees undertake extra services blindly thinking they are doing the ‘right’ thing. Sorry, don’t be so naive….pharmacy is about BIG BUSINESS.”

-Tall Poppy

Meanwhile, readers at weren’t pulling any punches in their reactions to the story 

Some commenters were concerned at the state of pharmacy:

“Unfortunately the profession is declining in interest, the ATAR to do pharmacy was in the 70s not 90+ like it was a decade ago. Welcome a new era of potentially less ‘smarter graduate pharmacists’. Thank you corporate pharmacies and multiple pharmacy owners who rort the system by owning multiple allowable pharmacies disguised under partnerships with other pharmacists”.

However others were quite dismissive of the calls for more money: 

“50k out of uni. know people who would kill for that. heck IT pays less for entry level,” said one reader.

Another said: “Everyone thinks they are worth $100 a hour. Society needs a reality check”. 

One commenter, ‘Bill’ was especially savage: “Salary seems right for people who do little more than apply labels to pill packets. Pharmacists are the last people I would trust for any medical advice”.

‘Ian’ was a lot better informed about the issue, and the profession: “You’ve got to love the ‘$12000 pay increase’ comment…. perhaps a better way to look at that is that for the year they are in an internship they are under-paid by $6000 (to pick a number), a year when their expenses are probably the highest they will experience in their working life”.



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