Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December2016 Contents Australian Pharmacist December 2016 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
More accurate projections needed
In June 2015, Project Pharmacist convened an Australian Pharmacist Workforce
Summit jointly with the Australian Pharmacy Liaison Forum (APLF, now renamed the
Australian Pharmacy Leaders Forum) to seek a consensus on the major workforce
issues facing pharmacists having sustainable and rewarding professional roles which
contribute to the health of the Australian population. See Australian Pharmacist
April 2016, page 62, The Australian Pharmacist Workforce Summit: issues affecting
sustainable and rewarding careers for pharmacists.
It concluded that a more accurate projection of the balance between supply
and demand for pharmacists is essential to inform potential students of career
opportunities upon graduation and registration.
Further, the summit identified the highest workforce related priority as the need to
make use of the potential opportunities for pharmacists as a result of demographic
driven demand, emerging professional roles and development of new services.
To do so effectively, the profession would need to address existing barriers to the full
utilisation of pharmacists in the healthcare system.
for people to complete their studies.
There is, under the current arrangement
as I understand it, capacity for people
who've had a visa to come in and study
to do a further year or two more practice
before they have to go home.'
'I think what we are seeing at the
moment is the impact of full fee paying
overseas students no longer contributing
in a meaningful way to the domestic
'Think of the numbers, if 30% of
students were full-fee paying overseas
students and 80% of them entered
the domestic workforce -- that would
have been in excess of 20% of the
local workforce supply. If they no
longer contribute to the workforce
and everything else has remained the
same it may have tripped us into an
undersupply,' Mr Jackson said.
Mr Jackson is cautious when talking
about supply and demand and harks
back to the 2015 Australian Pharmacist
Workforce Summit (see next column).
One of the reasons the Summit organisers
decided not to address workforce numbers
was because even if there are more
pharmacists than needed at the moment
for the roles that presently exist, there
might be in under-supply compared the
number of pharmacists that should exist.
Mr Jackson believed this is a critical factor.
The reality is, the profession might be
better off -- and it might be better for the
health system -- if the profession pushed
for a phenomenal increase in the
number of opportunities for pharmacists
working in places like residential aged
care, working in GP practices.
'Just imagine, we've got between
two and two and a half thousand
pharmacists accredited to do
medication reviews at the moment.
My calculation is that if we get
pharmacists in GP practices we will
eventually need well in excess of
that. So there is another 10% of your
workforce that you are going to need.'
'None of these demand variables have
been take into account in supply and
PSA CEO Dr Lance Emerson said as the
peak national body for pharmacists,
PSA was working hard and was fully
committed to improving the vibrancy,
sustainability and competitiveness of
the entire profession.
'We understand the issues and
challenges facing all pharmacists no
matter where they practice, including
the need to improve wages and
remuneration levels,' Dr Emerson said.
'That's why we are working hard on new,
innovative models of practice to provide
robust new income streams.
'PSA is leading the way by developing
innovative new healthcare models for
pharmacists. For example, PSA has led
the development and implementation
of the General Practice Pharmacist model
and for the integration of pharmacists in
Aboriginal Health Services.
Dr Emerson said PSA is also supporting
a more viable community pharmacy
network, including through the Health
'As the largest cohort of pharmacists
work in community pharmacy, the aim
of the Health Destination program is
to support a more profitable, viable
community pharmacy sector to help
Where to from here?
Moving forwards Mr Jackson believes
that all other things being equal we can
expect a drop in supply to the domestic
pharmacy workforce of more than
20% due to international students of
Australian universities no longer being
able to migrate. This would tip the local
situation into a shortage.
However, he said all things are not equal.
The impact of policy and practice change
develop over time and over the last few
years we have seen:
• restrictions imposed on the number of
HMRs and RMMRs which must have forced
some pharmacists away from this line of
work back into other areas of practice;
• the roll out of automation of dispensing
in pharmacies must result in some
reduction in pharmacist hours due to
improved efficiency of the process;
• reduced dispensing margins due to
'price disclosure' which will have led
some proprietors to reduce their
employment of staff;
• reduced overall viability has also led
to reductions in opening hours which
reduces the demand for pharmacists.
'It is a very complex space and the
profession needs to develop robust
models to be able to project demands
and monitor changes,' Mr Jackson said.
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