Student survey: oversupply, poor salary biggest obstacles

NAPSA Congress 2016 at James Cook University, Townsville. Photo: Christian Nimri Photography

Pharmacy students are mostly positive about the future but are hoping for better pay and conditions on entering the workforce

The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) has released the results of its latest student survey.

In November 2016, 761 Australian pharmacy students completed the National Pharmacy Students’ Survey with 68% of these employed in community pharmacy.

Nearly 80% reported they were satisfied with their decision to study pharmacy thus far, and 60% agreed they would recommend pharmacy to others.

Additionally 56% indicated their opinion of pharmacy had changed for the better since beginning their studies.

In regards to workforce issues, students were asked to identify the greatest barriers to them as a future pharmacist.

Over half perceived oversupply of pharmacists and poor salary to be the largest obstacles, which NAPSA says are consistent with previous years’ results.

NAPSA National President Shefali Parekh says NAPSA is keen to play a role in lobbying for better pay and conditions in pharmacy.

“We have listened to our members and been engaged nationally on a political and policy level to ensure these concerns are raised,” says Parekh.

“For example, we submitted a response to the King Review on Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation earlier this year and we will continue to advocate for pharmacy students in this way.”

Other survey findings showed a need for more guidance on entering a career in hospital pharmacy: only 24% of students said there is enough guidance provided to students regarding hospital pharmacy employment.

And while 44% said they wanted a career in hospital pharmacy, only 7% felt fully prepared to apply.

NAPSA representative of the NAPSA/SHPA Working Group, Lisa Bremner, says it is very clear that pharmacy students need more hospital pharmacy exposure throughout their degrees.

“It concerns me greatly how many students do not get a single opportunity to experience a pharmacy in a hospital setting by the end of their degree. Both NAPSA and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) feel strongly about this issue and have released a joint position statement regarding it”.

Forty-two percent of respondents said they were interested in rural or regional pharmacy for their internship year, but overall 57% believed their greatest barrier to working in a non-metropolitan area were concerns about lifestyle sacrifices and distance from family and friends.

Finally, 73% of respondents agreed that Mental Health First Aid training should be a requirement of the Pharmacy Board to become a registered pharmacist.

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  1. Paul's

    I have to be lucky to get a job and if I do the pay is poor yet I am positive about pharmacies future??? Five years after graduating what percentage is still in pharmacy, do a survey on that

    • Andrew

      A follow up would be interesting….especially surprising was “60% agreed they would recommend pharmacy to others.”

      I’d love to see what that percentage looked like after 3, 6 or 12 months post-registration.

      • Mimimomo

        Most would say, don do pharmacy!!

        • Stephen Roberts

          I know several very successful pharmacists, top of the tree, owners of pharmacies bought with cash 20 years ago and rolling in the stuff. Multi-millionaires. Also directors of hospital pharmacies, again, top of the tree.
          So what course of study does their young-adult children study?
          Not pharmacy.
          Not one of them.

  2. Paige

    As always the good ones will get jobs and thrive and the terrible ones will struggle and leave the profession. As in most things in life, be good at what you do and you’ll be fine.

    • Greg Kyle

      I completely agree, Paige. The job market is truly a Darwinian environment. No graduate (pharmacy or otherwise) is guaranteed a job … you have a degree and it’s up to you what you do with it. I’m actually glad there is such a marketplace in operation to get pharmacists to strive to be better. However, based on my personal experience in multiple pharmacies, it appears the good ones are leaving!
      The pay rates are a separate issue – the guild need to answer serious questions here about signing ever restrictive agreements to maintain ownership restrictions. At what point is the baby thrown out with the bath water?

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