How to become a pharmacist: Australian careers in pharmacy

Pharmacists, or chemists as they’re most commonly known, are healthcare professionals responsible for supplying, dispensing and manufacturing medicines and pharmaceuticals and advising on how to appropriately use them to the local public or other health care professionals. Because of this great responsibility, to become a pharmacist in Australia, there are several things you must complete including a 4-year tertiary degree, passing the Pharmacy Board of Australia registration requirements and participating in an internship with a registered pharmacist. There is strong growth predicted for this occupation over the next few years with opportunities available across the country.

  • Task Career in focus: What a pharmacist does

    There are different roles that pharmacists undertake, most commonly they prepare or supervise the dispensing of medicines and other treatments like ointments or tablets. As a health care professional, you will also aim to promote health awareness in the community and advise patients on using their medicines in the safest way possible, taking into consideration their individual needs and circumstances.  They may also be involved in developing legal and professional practice standards or advising government agencies about manufacturing and supplying of medicines. Some pharmacists work in research and develop new medicines and other health related products.

    Tasks:

    • Preparing or dispensing medicines, ointments and tablets
    • Advising patients on taking medication including dosage and side effects
    • Advising on non-prescription medicines, sick room supplies and other products
    • Researching and developing medicines
    • Manage pharmacies or pharmaceutical companies
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a pharmacist

    To study medicine and the makeup of pharmaceuticals, this requires a sound understanding of the science behind their development and the way in which chemicals react. As well as having this scientific understanding, you must have good communication skills that enable you to explain these complex terms to the general public. You will need to be able to retain a high amount of information and be able to accurately answer questions with confidence from questions from the public as well as health professionals. Pharmacists need good logic and problem-solving skills coupled with an attention to detail, as you will be dispensing drugs that could have side effects for patients or interactions with other medicines they are taking. Being interested in and understanding biology, physiology and pharmacology are also important aspects of the profession. 

    Skills/attributes
    • Able to communicate simply and clearly
    • Careful, methodical and detail-oriented
    • Able to work independently
    • Understanding of patient needs and concerns
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within pharmacy

    While most pharmacists in Australia work in privately run retail pharmacies, you can find them working in a wide variety of environments such as hospitals, aged care facilities and in Australian Defence. Being a pharmacist does not necessarily mean you have to work in a chemist and hospital as you may also choose to work within the pharmaceutical industry, researching, developing and evaluating the effectiveness of medications.

    Community Pharmacist

    Most people would recognise a community pharmacist, who works in retail pharmacies. Community pharmacists dispense preparations, provide advice on drug selection, educate customers on health issues, promote disease prevention and ensure proper medicine use.

    Consultant Pharmacist

    As someone who is employed by a hospital or pharmacy, a consultant pharmacist is someone who provides reviews of medication for residential care or ambulatory care patients.

    Government Pharmacist

    A government pharmacist works for a government agency, such as the Australian Army, and is involved in the regulatory control of pharmaceutical and medical products at the state/territory or federal government level.

    Hospital Pharmacist

    This role works within a hospital and helps doctors and nurses chose the most appropriate medicinal treatment for their patients. A hospital pharmacist also monitors medication usage, counsels patients and answers questions, provides drug information and advice to health professionals, conducts clinical trials and prepares products for patient use. 

    Industrial Pharmacist

    Working for pharmaceutical manufacturers, industrial pharmacists are responsible for the development, analysis and testing of new medical compounds and often work closely with doctors and other health professionals to conduct clinical trials of new drugs.

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a pharmacist

    Pharmacists need to complete a Bachelor of Pharmacy at university, taking four years to complete. Students who have already completed a science degree can undertake a Graduate Diploma of Pharmaceutical Science.

    Starting Out

    Find courses perfect for those who want to get a better understanding of the health industry.

    Building Skills

    Grow your professional skill set with a qualification in the bustling health industry.

    Developing Your Resume

    Find advanced and post-graduate course in health to push your career further.

    Industry Recognition

    Registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia is necessary to become a pharmacist in Australia.

    Entering the Workforce

    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your pharmacy career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for pharmacy jobs.

    Job Prospects in Pharmacy: Working life as a Pharmacist

    Looking forward, job prospects for pharmacists in Australia are predicted to remain very strong over the next five years. 

Pharmacy Resources:

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