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  • How to become a Pharmacist in Australia

    Author: HealthTimes

If you’re interested in having a genuine impact on people’s health, fascinated by pharmacology and medicine, and long for a meaningful career with ongoing growth potential, then becoming a pharmacist might be the answer you’re looking for.

Pharmacy is one of many allied health careers available in Australia, but requires extensive study and placement.

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To become a pharmacist in Australia, you must complete a tertiary degree in Pharmacy such as a Bachelor or Master of Pharmacy.

You’ll then need to register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia and complete a one-year internship with a registered pharmacist. 

What is a pharmacist?

Put simply, a pharmacist is a person who is qualified to dispense medications. They understand how medications work and advise both doctors and members of the community on medication dosages, side effects, and how to take them.

Pharmacists work in various areas, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies.

They work closely with doctors to determine which medications may be best for the patient, and liaise with patients and family members, to determine which medications the patient normally takes, and the correct dosages.

Other tasks a pharmacist might complete include:

• Check for errors in medication charts in hospitals.
• Prepare and dispense medications.
• Explain to patients how their medications work, and how to take them.
• Visit patients at home (or visit nursing homes) to conduct medication reviews.
• Promote health awareness.
• Teach and supervise pharmacy students/interns.
• Become involved in the research of medicines.
• Aid in the development of government regulations regarding the manufacture and
availability of medications.

The role of pharmacists in Australia is evolving, with pharmacists now permitted to provide influenza vaccinations to patients.

Becoming a pharmacist

Pharmacy can be taken as an undergraduate degree - Bachelor of Pharmacy - at various universities across Australia.  Each university will have different prerequisites, so it’s important to check before applying. The Pharmacy degree usually takes four years to complete full-time.

Entry from secondary school usually requires maths and chemistry, while subjects including biology, human biology and physics are also highly regarded.
Pharmacy can also be taken as a post-graduate degree - Master of Pharmacy, which normally takes two years to complete full-time.

Applicants will need to have completed a bachelor degree, attained above average grades, and have completed certain tertiary level units such as physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, human biology, pharmacology, and mathematics.

You may also need to pass one of these examinations to a certain level:
• Graduate Australia Medical Admissions Test (GAMSAT)
• Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

Where can I study pharmacy?

Australian universities that offer pharmacy degrees include but are not limited to:

• The University of Western Australia
• Curtin University
• The University of Sydney
• The University of Queensland
• Griffith University
• The University of Tasmania
• Monash University
• The University of Canberra
• The University of South Australia

I’ve got my degree, now what?

Once you have attained a pharmacy degree, you will have to meet the requirements to be registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

As you approach the end of your studies, you should apply for ‘provisional’ registration, which enables you to obtain an internship under the guidance of a registered pharmacist.

Throughout your internship, you’ll gain knowledge and practical experience in areas such as:

• Conducting medication reviews
• Providing advice on prescription medications, “over-the-counter” products and
complimentary medicines
• Dispensing medications
• Evidence-based practice
• Legal practice
• Problem solving
• Harm minimisation and health promotion

Upon completion of the internship, pharmacy interns must sit and pass the Pharmacy Board’s registration examination, which comprises two components: a written
section and an oral section.

Following the successful completion of this examination, interns are then eligible to apply for general registration and become qualified to practice as a pharmacist in Australia.

You’re then ready to seek employment in hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies.

I obtained my qualification overseas, can I work as a pharmacist in Australia?
You will require registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia, and need to sit an examination with the Australian Pharmacy Council (pharmacists from New Zealand are
exempt). Visit the Overseas Practitioner Registration section of the official Pharmacy Board of Australia website for more details.

What salary can I expect?

At the intern level, a pharmacist can earn upwards of $52,000 a year. Each state has a grading system that takes into account years of working and specialisation. The
highest grades command salaries upwards of $140,000 a year, but it is important to know that salary packaging may be available, as well as overtime rates for any public holiday/weekend work.

Indemnity Insurance

It’s important for pharmacists to obtain professional indemnity cover for legal or negligence claims that may be made against you in the course of your career. Although many employers offer some kind of indemnity insurance, this may not protect you from certain types of claims.

You can purchase indemnity insurance in Australia from organisations such as Professional Pharmacists Australia or Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL). These companies often
also provide counselling and guidance to members.



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