Growing enrolments will help solve pharmacy workforce shortages, says a pharmacy professor
James Cook University’s pharmacy enrolments have more than doubled this year – and graduates have no problem finding jobs, the university says.
The vast majority are choosing to remain in North Queensland to work.
JCU Head of Pharmacy Associate Professor Michelle Bellingan says there was a 60% increase in first-year pharmacy students in 2017. There are 50 new Bachelor of Pharmacy first-year students and a total of 165 students enrolled in the course.
The growing enrolments will help address pharmacy workforce shortages when the students graduate in four years’ time, she says.
“We are delighted with this news, which will help to meet workforce needs in the North and elsewhere,” Dr Bellingan says.
“We are even starting to see students from South East Queensland choosing to study here in Townsville, when they would have usually studied closer to home.
“We are also starting to attract more students from places like Mackay and Queensland’s central coast, where students have traditionally gone south to study pharmacy.”
The increase in numbers in northern Queensland has been highlighted this year with two students from the tiny Far North Queensland community of Dimbulah (population roughly 1400) starting their course.
“There is a shortage of pharmacists in North Queensland, especially in rural areas. It has traditionally been difficult to attract people to those areas,” Dr Bellingan says.
“Our students can work anywhere in the country, but many are keen to work in regional Queensland.
“Our students have no difficulty in finding employment. The current shortage of pharmacists has seen employers in regional areas of Queensland having to employ recruitment consultants to find staff.”
The problem of attracting pharmacists to rural and regional communities has been an ongoing issue for the profession.