Home' Australian Pharmacist : September 2011 Contents Vol. 30 -- September #09, 2011
here and overseas? The bulk of the
academic staff is ageing (like me!)
-- who will replace them? It is very
hard to find PhD qualified staff in
the practice/clinical areas.
Professor Smith said by broadening
their horizons, young pharmacists
would find jobs, and often find
exciting careers outside of the
traditional area they may have
thought they were limited to.
'My advice is that when looking for
work you have to stop just looking
under 'P' for pharmacy,
' she said.
'Why not look at work in the
regulatory and government policy
areas? How about health education?
There really is a wealth of diverse
opportunities out there but you
may just have to think outside of
hospital or community pharmacy
to begin with. It may mean adding
to your base pharmacy qualification
to open up new career directions,
and travelling to where jobs are
'Your degree will always mean you
can return to the traditional areas at
some stage if you want to.
Professor Smith said to reach her
current position she 'started at the
bottom and worked my way up'.
'I began by tutoring and many years
of lecturing before I attained the
position I now have but that just
shows that you have to be willing to
work your way up. I have moved in
and out of pharmacy, pharmacology
and toxicology, both overseas and
in Australia. You can't expect to
leave university with your degree
and be young, inexperienced but
only willing to start at the top or
not travel to where the jobs are. It
doesn't work that way.
'Your degree will open up a lot of
doors and as one shuts, another
will open. Go through the door that
Professor Smith also had advice for
those planning on undertaking PhD.
'Do your Honours (or Masters)
then a PhD full-time, while you
are young, fit, unencumbered,
enthusiastic and able to accept
being poor. Your rewards will come
later. Your PhD will open doors to
jobs and opportunities otherwise
closed off to you.
'Be ready to change your career
direction, and take up opportunities
as they come to you -- it may mean
travelling and stepping out of your
comfort zone. Put your hand up to
serve on committees and boards.
Don't be afraid to lead via service and
be prepared to put in some hard work
-- but it is fun and rewarding when
working with like-minded colleagues.
Another tip Professor Smith offered
was to find a mentor.
'I had great senior pharmacist and
toxicologist mentors in NZ -- they are
still my mentors today.
Seek, ask and network
Ideas and suggestions
schools on how to
look for work outside
the normal channels
would be a great
help for graduates,
-- Dermatology at
Ascent Pharmaceuticals Rachel
In her own case, Rachel says, it
took five years behind a dispensing
counter to realise that was not the
way she wanted to spend the rest of
'Pharmacists tend to have this
perception that once they have their
degree and leave their training they
just head into a hospital or community
' she says.
'I think we need to introduce ideas
early in their training to encourage
them to broaden their views of
where they can go when they leave
university. We need to plant the seed
early on in their training.
'When I wanted to look elsewhere
for my career I realised how much it
would have helped me if I had some
ideas of the alternatives available
earlier on in my training.
Rachel advises young pharmacists
to look for career alternatives and
to use continuing education to finds
areas of interest.
'As pharmacists we have the
opportunity to be part of different
educational programs and I was lucky
to find a great interest in dermatology
which I pursued when I saw an ad in
'So my advice to young pharmacists
is that when you find an area of
interest and see an opportunity in
that area, go for it. Don't hold back.
You have to seize the opportunities
as they arise.
'I also think we need to equip
young pharmacists with better
skills to apply for jobs outside the
usual areas. We tend to come out
of university with great clinical
skills but the profession is one that
doesn't often use formal interviews
and so on for people when they are
going for a job.
'At times it can be a simple case of
showing your credentials and having
a cup of coffee with a pharmacy
manager to secure a job.
Rachel says that it came as a
rude shock to see how different
it was in the 'real' world. 'I was
really surprised at how different
it is in industry. I applied for the
job I have and it was a process of
four interviews before I secured it.
'Some jobs require interviews
before panels and I don't think many
pharmacists are well equipped
'There is an intense level of
interrogation outside of hospital
and community pharmacy when it
comes to applying for a job. I think it
would be invaluable if we built into
our course the delivery of skills in
areas such as CV writing, interview
techniques and so on.
Another area, according to Rachel,
where pharmacists might need
training is in promoting their skills
outside the clinical area.
'You have to be able to sell yourself.
The degree is all important of
course but you also have to have
the personality, the track record and
the skills -- and know how to sell all
these things and get these across
during an interview.
'A new area I have seen develop in
recent times is that of professional
services manager where a
pharmacist may be employed by
a group to oversee the pharmacy
operations of the group. These may
involve dispensing, budgeting, staff
management and a whole range of
skills which are outside of what up
to now we may have regarded as
normal pharmacist duties.
'Seek, ask and network at every
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