‘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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