Uptick in employee pharmacist wages

A new report has seen an increase in community pharmacists’ wages alongside growth in professional services

More pharmacists are now earning between $40 and $50 per hour, and fewer pharmacists are earning less than $30 per hour, according to the 2018 UTS Pharmacy Barometer released on Tuesday.

The report surveyed 361 pharmacists with the sample being representative of the Australian community pharmacy sector (±5% marginal error, 95% confidence interval).

Of these, 301 (83%) were owners, owner-managers, pharmacists-in-charge or pharmacy managers.

Owners and owner managers were asked to specify the average hourly rate for employee pharmacists.

Results revealed wage increases, with the proportion of pharmacists earning below $30 per hour decreasing from 6% in the previous survey to 2% in 2018.

Meanwhile the proportion of pharmacists earning between $30 and $40 per hour rose from 63% in the previous survey to 68%.

Nearly one third of pharmacists are earning between $40 and $50 per hour – an increase of 3% (from 27% in the previous survey to 30% in 2018).

Source: UTS Pharmacy Barometer November 2018

The results show owners are responding to the current push within the pharmacy industry to better support pharmacists through increased remuneration, according to the UTS Pharmacy team.

Professor Kylie Williams, Head of Pharmacy at UTS, said the rise in remuneration demonstrates signs of improvement and wage recovery.

“We found that the hourly rate for pharmacists appears to be slowly rising,” said Professor Williams.

“This is a good start to recognising pharmacists’ valuable contribution to healthcare provision, however there is room for further wage growth.”

Dr Victoria Garcia Cardenas, senior lecturer in pharmacy practice within the UTS Graduate School of Health, said the results show a positive trend.

“After a few years of instability, the increase in remuneration is both positive and exciting amongst community pharmacists.”

“The push towards remunerating pharmacists fairly for the work they provide appears to be working,” said PSA director and past president Warwick Plunkett.

Professional services carried out in community pharmacy are becoming more widely accepted with a one in five pharmacies now employing a dedicated pharmacist to provide services such as blood pressure checks and diabetes services.

“Over time we can expect to see this number to grow as the positions become more viable,” said Mr Plunkett.

Typically these pharmacists receive higher remuneration – 52% receive between $40 and $50 an hour, and 42% receive between $30 and $40 per hour.

“Remuneration appears to be moving in the right direction, it is evidence pharmacists are making an investment for the future of the profession,” said Professor Williams.

However it is concerning that 6% of dedicated professional services pharmacists were earning less than $30 per hour, she pointed out.

Source: UTS Pharmacy Barometer November 2018

UTS Adjunct Professor John Montgomery said pharmacists need to capitalise on the professional services trend.

“There seems to be a growing recognition that in order to take advantage of the opportunities in services, that there needs to be dedicated resources with a higher remuneration,” he said.

“This needs to accelerate to fully leverage this opportunity.”

Increased remuneration seems to be having a positive impact on attitudes, with employee pharmacists showing increased optimism in the viability of community based pharmacy, according to the Barometer report.

Over the previous two surveys, employed pharmacists’ confidence continued to decrease – however in the latest survey their confidence is at a high of 5.8/10.

This was the biggest jump among all groups, said Professor Williams.

Increased optimism was a result of pharmacists “becoming increasingly confident in the evolving role of the pharmacist and the accompanied remuneration rewards” within a more services-oriented landscape, the report said.

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