Careers in Pharmacy

Red pill

Pharmacists are distinct professional health care providers, who are an integral part in all levels of the health care system. Registered pharmacists are required to dispense and provide professional consultation on medicines in local communities; to work alongside doctors and nurses in hospitals; to develop medicines and their sales in the industrial sector; and also to perform research and advisory roles for government and peak bodies. Furthermore, academic research is another career path available in pharmacy.

Community Pharmacy

Community practice is the most popular destination for graduates in pharmacy. The Pharmacy Act (1964) requires that all community pharmacies be owned by registered pharmacists; so many practitioners own and operate their own pharmacies or chemists. Many pharmacists also work full time or part time as managers or pharmacists-in-charge.

Community pharmacists play a role in primary health care and health education and are often the first point of contact with the healthcare system. Pharmacists have the expertise to suggest or supply medications for minor illnesses, and to recommend that a customer consult another health professional.

Community pharmacists supply and dispense medicinal and related products and are especially responsible for substances restricted by the NSW Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act (1966). Advice and counselling given by the pharmacist play an important role in maximising the usefulness of medications while minimising side effects. Pharmacists also provide a range of medical equipment and therapeutic devices (such as nebulisers and crutches) and explanations about how to use these correctly.

Community pharmacy is continuously evolving, most recently through offering additional services such as:

  • providing information to the public and medical practitioners
  • reviewing medication
  • advising medical practitioners about optimal drug therapy and disease-state management

Hospital Pharmacy

Hospital pharmacists work in acute care settings in either the public or private sector. Like their counterparts in community pharmacy, they distribute and review medications, as well as educate patients and allied health professionals to achieve quality use of medicines. Hospital pharmacists perform clinical and applied research, including clinical drug trials, drug utilisation studies, applied interventions and pharmaco-economic evaluations. Increasingly, hospital pharmacists provide hospital-to-community liaison services to help patients manage and monitor their medication upon discharge.

Hospital pharmacists work in multidisciplinary teams with medical staff and allied health professionals to provide optimal patient care. They monitor drug therapy to detect and/or minimise the risk of drug interactions and side effects. Many hospital pharmacists attain specialist status in selected therapeutic areas such as cardiology, immunology, manufacturing, haematology, oncology, paediatrics, aged care and anticoagulation.

Pharmaceutical Industry

The broad medical knowledge and skills taught in the Bachelor of Pharmacy and Master of Pharmacy degrees mean that graduates are also well-suited for employment in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacists are sought after in the manufacturing, medical, sales and marketing sectors of the industry.

Pharmacy graduates have the potential to take part in all stages of drug utilisation, from development and production to registration, clinical assessment, and sales and marketing of products to health care professionals. Employment in the pharmaceutical industry may also provide experience in business development and travel within Australia and overseas.

Research

Postgraduate study allows interested students to gain experience and skills in research. The faculty has a robust, enterprising research division and students have the opportunity to work with leading experts in several research fields. Pharmacy qualifications offer unique career options and flexibility, combining a professional degree with research experience. Graduates may seek employment in full time research work or choose to pursue a research-based higher degree.

Pharmacy graduates with research experience are sought after candidates for senior roles in the pharmaceutical industry.

Other Opportunities

Pharmacists are employed by various government agencies, both Commonwealth and State, generally in positions concerned with the control, manufacture, supply and distribution of medicines and medicinal preparations. Openings also occur in the defence services and universities.