It is expected
that around 2500 of this shortfall could be in the hospital sector
where the demand for new pharmacy oriented services seems at odds
with the ongoing shortages in this area.
Ideas are put forward for increasing the ebb and flow of pharmacists
between the two sectors (which is rather one-way at the moment,
and generally irreversible).
The ideas put forward include marketing hospitals to older community
pharmacists as a refresher program, closing the gap between private
and public practice and using hospital pharmacies as a training
ground for the cognitive services provided via retail pharmacies.
Sadly most of these measure seem to be aimed at helping community
pharmacies improve their workforce situation, and don't help to
put in place long term reforms for the hospital sector.
In NSW ideas are being put forward at the moment to rectify workforce
related issues that go beyond mere salaries, and the outcomes
are eagerly awaited.
points are the 5000 registered pharmacists currently not working
The report highlights the need for targeted programs to encourage
pharmacists to return to pharmacies rather than other employment
in industry or other sectors, and the reduce the loss into other
professions such as medicine.
It is feared that up to 7% of new graduates will be lost to the
pharmacy sector by 2010 and this is a huge loss, possibly over
500 full-time pharmacists.
This is significant when you realise that 2005 graduates are not
expected to greatly outnumber the class of 2002, despite the establishment
of 4 new pharmacy schools in recent years, and the possible establishment
At the basis
of this lies a dilemma for the community pharmacy sector in particular.
Margins have been squeezed in recent years, with little real increase
in the basic renumeration for PBS dispensing (which is still the
major business of nearly all retail pharmacies) and a major amount
of extra work required, to obtain the bonuses offered from new
services in the Third Agreement.
While there can be no argument that some financial incentives
are necessary to drive new cognitive services, it is hard to ignore
a workforce shortage of the one facing our profession.
In order for pharmacy to remain an attractive profession, and
become more attractive to the 7% of graduates we might lose, and
the 5000 registered pharmacists who work elsewhere what needs
to be done?
need to improve in both community and hospital sectors.
This can be done with increased pharmacist substitution as suggested
in the report published this week.
More assistants and technicians can help to overcome a shortage
of pharmacists, especially if they are empowered to take on more
responsibility in a pharmacy.
The shortage of pharmacists has the potential to feed upon itself,
as pharmacists become frustrated with the increased workload and
We can't make more pharmacists appear, but we can attempt to delegate
much of the more menial work to others.
to improve, particularly in the hospital sector.
It is hard to ignore the lure of money.
Even in the retail sector where margins are now tighter, wages
have not quite spiralled to the extent you might have expected
given the shortage we face.
Real increases in government renumeration will make pharmacy ownership
a more attractive proposition, and keep young pharmacists in the
system, and will enable higher wages to be paid to retain existing
staff, and attract pharmacists from the pool of 5000 currently
Hospital pharmacies will never be able to attract more staff than
their current 10-15% of the workforce unless major industrial
reforms take place.
Expanded clinical role for pharmacists.
The UK is leading the way in its NHS trusts with a role for the
prescribing pharmacist, working with the doctors.
Roles like this will be more attractive to existing young pharmacists,
and some experienced pharmacists as well.
An expanded role, and profile will make pharmacy appear to be
a more attractive career.
Many on the outside of out profession see little else than sticking
labels on bottles, and this perception needs to be changed.
Even the clinical work of pharmacists in the hospital, that often
has little to do with dispensing, has a low profile in comparison
to the public image of pharmacists.
training needs to become more common.
Postgraduate training provides a career structure and pathway
Whether it is an MBA oriented to Pharmacy as currently offered
via Monash or a Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy from UQ, these
courses offer a pathway into something bigger, and help young
pharmacists to plan for the future.
The increasing development of AIPM and the establishment of the
MBA course will go a long way to encouraging young pharmacists
to want to manage and eventually own their own pharmacy.
lose the ownership battle.
If the debate of ownership restrictions is lost at any point in
the next ten years, the situation could be bleak.
If Woolworths, Priceline, Mayne etc are cashed up and ready to
roll, the many older pharmacists who will sell out are surely
a high probability of retiring and leaving the profession.
With a 3000 pharmacist shortage predicted can we afford to lose