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How To Become A Pharmacist in Australia

How To Become A Pharmacist in Australia
Photo: How To Become A Pharmacist in Australia
To become a pharmacist in Australia, you must complete a tertiary degree in Pharmacy such as a Bachelor or Master of Pharmacy. Graduates will then need to register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia and compelte an internship of approximately 1 year with a registered pharmacist. 

Are you interested in how medications work?

Are you looking for a job with variety and potential for growth?

Do you have a genuine interest in helping people manage and improve their health?

If so, then pharmacy, one of the “allied health” careers, may be the career for you.

What is a pharmacist?
A pharmacist is a person who is qualified to dispense medications. They have knowledge of how medications work and advise both doctors and other members of the community on medication dosages, side effects, and how to take them.
What is expected of me as a pharmacist?
Here are some of the things pharmacists do:
• Work in various areas, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies.
• Work closely with doctors to determine which medications may be best for the patient.
• Liaise with patients, their doctors and family members, to determine which medications the patient normally takes, and the correct dosages.
• 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 also growing, with pharmacists now allowed to give influenza vaccinations to patients.

How can I study pharmacy?
Pharmacy can be taken as an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Pharmacy) at various universities across Australia – check the pre-requisites for each university. This degree is
normally 4 years full-time.

To be admitted to this degree course, high school students are usually required to have taken certain subjects such as mathematics and chemistry. It is desirable that students will
also have taken biology, human biology, or physics. Competency in the English language must also be demonstrated. Additionally, each university will have a minimum ATAR score
requirement for admission to a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree program.

Pharmacy can also be taken as a post-graduate degree (Master of Pharmacy). This is normally 2 years 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)
Again, check the pre-requisites for each individual university.

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

What happens next?
Once you have attained a pharmacy degree, you will have to meet the requirements to be registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia. Initially, when nearing the end of the
degree, pharmacy students will need to apply for “provisional” registration. This enables them to obtain an internship under the guidance of a registered pharmacist, in order to gain
more experience. Applicants will need to undergo a criminal history check at this time. During internship (normally a 1 year period), interns, with supervision, 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

After the period of internship is completed, pharmacy interns must sit and pass the Pharmacy Board’s registration examination. This 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.

Only then will pharmacists be able to seek employment in hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies.

I am already a pharmacist – from overseas. How 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 [link] for more details.

What kind of 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 experience 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 is 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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