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Pharmacy

Pharmacy is a specialised field that has a great deal to offer those with a passion for science, health care and working with people. Browse Pharmacy courses by state
For more information, visit the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Pharmacy Board of Australia or Pharmacy Guild of Australia websites.If you have an interest in this field, you may also want to consider other health-related fields such as nursing, medicine, health services and support, rehabilitation and veterinary science.
VET study in pharmacy
Like various other professional fields such as medicine or dentistry, courses in pharmacy are largely restricted to universities and are offered at degree level and higher. The handful of VET course offerings in this field are available in community pharmacy. These courses are designed for those wishing to work in the areas of sales, marketing, management and administration in various pharmacy and general retail stores. See the Course search for more information.
Undergraduate study in pharmacy
Courses and specialisations
Degree courses in pharmacy typically centre around four core areas of study: medicinal chemistry (the chemistry of drugs); pharmacology (the action of drugs); pharmaceutics (the formulation of drug dosages); and pharmacy practice. Courses typically include a practical placement, usually in the later years of the course, which may involve work placements in hospitals and community pharmacies.Pharmacy courses tend to be tightly regulated by the profession and are competitive to get into, usually demanding high ATARs and Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) scores. Graduates who succeed in getting through the demanding four-year courses can, however, look forward to excellent employment prospects.In order to practise, pharmacy graduates must complete a set number of hours of pre-registration training under the supervision of a registered pharmacist and an examination. The majority of pharmacy graduates complete their pre-registration year in either community pharmacies or hospital pharmacies. The Pharmacy Board of Australia sets these accreditation requirements. As for what's happening in the profession, more and more professional bodies are of the opinion that the demand for pharmacists is heading towards oversupply due to the increase in pharmacy courses. That said, this problem is believed to be mainly affecting metropolitan areas, with shortages for pharmacists persisting in rural areas. The imbalance in the supply of pharmacists has led to a number of universities introducing targeted scholarships and placement schemes to encourage students to take up employment in regional and rural Australia. In addition, the Rural Intern Training Allowance (RITA) provides funding for interns undertaking their training period in regional areas.A new degree structure, which has already been established in some fields at selected institutions, has the potential to become more common in pharmacy. The structure follows a US-style model where undergraduates enter a general pre-professional degree (perhaps in science or health science) and then transfer to a postgraduate qualification in pharmacy.
Where to study
Over the last decade, the number of universities offering pharmacy degrees has increased significantly, particularly with the introduction of courses with a targeted focus on pharmacy in rural and regional areas. There are now 19 universities offering pharmacy degrees in each state and territory across Australia. Despite the increase in courses, entry remains highly competitive.See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.
Career opportunities
Pharmacy graduates are quite pleased with their course overall, according to the 2014 Course Experience Questionnaire Survey. Job prospects for both pre- and post-registration pharmacy graduates are excellent, with 91 per cent gaining employment within four months of graduation. At $40,937, starting salaries for pharmacy graduates (pre-registration) are very low compared with most other fields of study, but upon registration (typically 12 months after graduation) salaries usually rise significantly.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
Postgraduate study in pharmacy
Courses and specialisations
Programs in the pharmacy field are predominantly for practitioners who have a first degree in the field. There are limited postgraduate programs for those without an undergraduate pharmacy degree who want to become registered pharmacists. If you are interested in making a career change and moving into pharmacy, you can also look into undergraduate degrees in the field. For qualified pharmacists looking for further study there are a number of postgraduate coursework programs ranging from graduate certificate to masters level. Many of these focus on either pharmacy management, community pharmacy, clinical pharmacy or pharmaceutical science. Although research numbers are low (at just six per cent of all postgraduate students), there are a select few research programs that allow more in-depth exploration of these and other areas.
Where to study
Postgraduate options are offered at a limited number of universities in each state. So unless you want to move, it won’t be too hard to select a program as your location will narrow down the options. The greater challenge will be to make sure that those options that are available are really going to be relevant and worth your while pursuing. To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.
Career opportunities
Postgraduate pharmacy students rated the teaching quality of courses and their overall satisfaction very low ratings in the latest national Course Experience Questionnaire survey. Job prospects, on the other hand, are excellent, with just five per cent of graduates seeking work four months after course completion. Salaries are at the lower end of the scale, at $61,633.See the Career Search for more information about your career options.
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