Hospital pharmacy interest is growing among students, according to a NAPSA survey, but there is a need for more placements, guidance and support

Findings from National Pharmacy Students Survey (NPSS) 2017 reveal a significant amount (44%) of respondents are hoping to be employed in hospital pharmacy within the next five years.

And in a win for the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), 90% of this of this group has a strong desire to undertake an SHPA Hospital Residency Program, which was only launched in September this year.

NAPSA conducted its latest student survey across its membership.

While the results were generally positive towards future employment opportunities, they also revealed more than three in five students do not feel adequately exposed to the hospital pharmacy environment in preparation for the workforce.

A further half of respondents don’t believe enough guidance is offered to students applying to hospital employment.

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels says the strong interest in hospital pharmacy among students sends a clear message on the future of the sector in Australia.

“We welcome these results on behalf of our members, and we look forward to welcoming more bright pharmacy minds into our ranks,” says Ms Michaels.

However she called on universities to respond to the growing demand by increasing the number of hospital placements within pharmacy degrees across Australia.

“We reaffirm our 2016 joint position with NAPSA that each Australian university should include, at minimum, a compulsory three-week placement in an acute care setting in every student’s third or fourth year of their pharmacy degree.”

SHPA National President Professor Michael Dooley says the gap in guidance for students interested in hospital pharmacy needs to be addressed.

“It is imperative that we continue to provide greater guidance and access for students to hospital pharmacy practice, as this is now the preferred professional choice for students,” says Professor Dooley.

“We need to continue to build a competent and skilled workforce for the growing roles and responsibilities of pharmacists in hospitals, and this includes more structured undergraduate placements building through to SHPA residency programs for pharmacists that are now in place in the leading hospitals through Australia.”

In addition to more hospital pharmacy placements, three in five pharmacy student respondents said they felt a rural pharmacy placement should be a compulsory component of university programs.

And Mental Health First Aid accreditation as a compulsory requirement of pharmacy registration was strongly supported among respondents.

Remuneration was also brought up in the survey, with 63% respondents saying they do not believe there is adequate remuneration for the services pharmacists offer, and that this remains the biggest issue facing the profession.

The PSA recently found the same results among its early career pharmacist membership base, with ECPs identifying inadequate remuneration was the single largest issue facing the sector.

About 70% of ECPs rated remuneration as either very important or extremely important in determining their level of job satisfaction.

The annual NPSS provides the pharmacy student perspective across Australia, allowing NAPSA to hone in on the issues that matter most to the cohort, says NAPSA National President Sandra Minas.

“We are excited to continue to not only advocate but implement significant changes regarding all aspects of pharmacy,” says Ms Minas.

“These findings will drive NAPSA to maximise the opportunities we provide for our members as they transition into the workforce.”

Are you interested in the SHPA’s Hospital Residency Program? See our interview with Resident of the Year 2017 Amanda Horiniak here.