‘We won’t let the remuneration struggle go.’

Stakeholders have responded with concern to the results of the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey, which showed pharmacy graduates received the lowest pay

The survey, which was published earlier this week, showed that of graduates of all university courses, pharmacists were the most likely to get a job for their intern year, with a rates of 95.7% in full-time employment four months after finishing their degree.

This compared to 72.2% of all graduates.

However, pharmacy graduates received the lowest pay, at $48,000, for their intern year.

“It’s really concerning that the remuneration for pharmacists continues to be at a low ebb,” said Pharmaceutical Society of Australia national president Dr Chris Freeman.

“We released Pharmacists in 2023: Roles and Remuneration to show to the profession, governments and other funders, how valuable pharmacists are in the health system and the level of reward in terms of remuneration that they should receive.

“There’s no doubt that remuneration needs to lift, and we are very conscious that to be able to do that, more flexible, sustainable revenue sources, especially for community pharmacy need to be developed.”

Dr Freeman said that there is a recognised need to create diverse career opportunities for pharmacists in the future.

“We are pleased that we are seeing the blossoming of roles in general practice and in aged care,” he said.

“We won’t let the remuneration struggle go. It’s our members number-one issue, so therefore it is our number-one issue in terms of retaining the best and brightest in our profession, and in terms of saying to pharmacists your work is important and valued.”

Professional Pharmacists Australia was also critical of the low pay for the intern year and beyond.

“PPA members think the low salaries of interns are a shocking indictment of the Australian pharmacy business model,” said PPA president Dr Geoff March.

“The high rates of employment reflect a ‘churn and burn’ model of employment with many young pharmacists exiting the profession only to be replaced by new graduates who are in turn exploited.”

However Dr March also noted a “small uptick” in pharmacy graduate pay which he said was due to the increases in minimum award pay rates won via the union’s work value case.

“All interns should check that they are receiving at a minimum $23.94 per hour in the first half of their training and $24.76 per hour in the second half of their training,” he advised. 

“The Fair Work Commission has agreed with Professional Pharmacists Australia that pharmacists’ pay needs to rise and are broadening the inquiry to 29 awards that require an undergraduate degree.

“This case will now affect degree qualified workers in sectors including Banking, Legal Services and Higher Education.”

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  1. Greg Kyle

    The problem with these remuneration surveys has and will always be the pharmacy internship. Pharmacists do not graduate registered and must undertake a Board mandated training year. Naturally, pharmacy graduates are not paid as much as they would be if they graduated registered. So, to be fair, the 1st year salary metric should compare salaries as 1st year registered pharmacists and not the internship.
    This opens the next can of worms about graduating registered pharmacists, the continuing need for an internship year and whether it can be included within the university training (eg. PharmD). These are separate discussions and the profession should undertake them in a fair and frank manner.

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      Will be interesting to see how the Monash program will impact this… and whether their graduates will be counted from the 5th year (equivalent to an intern now) or afterwards (when they are fully qualified)

    • (Mary) Kay Dunkley

      Remember that doctors too only have provisional registration in their intern year and cannot work outside an accredited training post in a hospital. This is very similar to the intern year for pharmacy interns (except that intern positions in pharmacy are not accredited). Doctors also cannot obtain a Medicare Provider number to practice independently until they have completed their fellowship – this takes a minimum of 4 years after graduating and often longer. The difference is that all medical intern positions are government funded whereas pharmacy interns in the majority work in the private sector.

  2. Paul Sapardanis

    Dr March is quite correct in his churn and burn model statement. A lot of businesses exploit the high number of new graduates and create a business model to this situation. Whilst the universities continue to oversupply this model will continue to flourish.

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