How to become a Pharmacist

Pharmacists supply, dispense and manufacture medicines and pharmaceutical products in hospitals and community pharmacies, and advise on their appropriate use. They also conduct research into the formulation, production, storage, quality control and distribution of medicines and pharmaceutical products.

Personal requirements of a Pharmacist

  • Careful and methodical
  • Able to work independently
  • Good communication skills

Education & Training for a Pharmacist

To become a pharmacist you usually have to complete a degree in pharmacy at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. You may also be required to attend an interview. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in pharmacy. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Pharmacist

Pharmacists may perform the following tasks:

  • prepare or supervise the dispensing of medicines, ointments and tablets
  • provide advice about how medicines are to be taken or used in the safest and most effective way in the treatment of common ailments
  • advise consumers and other health professionals about medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter medicines), including appropriate selection, dosage and drug interactions, potential side effects and therapeutic effects
  • select, advise on and supply non-prescription medicine, sick room supplies and other products
  • develop legal and professional practice standards, and advise on government controls and regulations concerning the manufacture and supply of medicines
  • work in the research and development of medicines and other health-related products
  • manage pharmacies or pharmaceutical companies.

Employment Opportunities for a Pharmacist

Most pharmacists work in community pharmacies, with some owning their own practice or partnership. They also work in hospital pharmacies providing services to patients. A number are employed by pharmaceutical companies in drug research, marketing and design, or by universities and TAFE institutes.

Specialisations:


Community Pharmacist

A community pharmacist is involved in dispensing prescriptions, providing advice about drug selection and usage to doctors and other health professionals, providing primary healthcare advice and support, and educating customers on health promotion, disease prevention and the proper use of medicines. They usually have a high level of contact with the public.


Consultant Pharmacist

A consultant pharmacist is employed by community pharmacies or hospitals, or is self-employed and contracted by community pharmacies, to provide medication reviews for residential care or ambulatory care patients and/or other medication-related cognitive services.


Government Pharmacist

A government pharmacist is involved with the regulatory control of pharmaceutical and medical products at state, territory or federal level.


Hospital Pharmacist

A hospital pharmacist operates as part of a healthcare team and is involved in monitoring medication usage, counselling patients, providing drug information and advice to health professionals and the community, conducting clinical trials and preparing products for patient use. They usually have a lot of contact with other health professionals and members of the public.


Industrial Pharmacist

An industrial pharmacist is involved in research and the development, manufacturing, testing, analysis and marketing of pharmaceutical and medical products.

Additional Information
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. To practise as a pharmacist in Australia, it is necessary to be registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia. Before applying for full registration, pharmacy graduates must successfully complete a set number of hours of supervised practice while undertaking an accredited intern training program, and pass a written and oral examination conducted by the board. For full details, see the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s website. Students, interns and graduates are eligible for membership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia.
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