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Pharmacy Jobs in Australia: The Trends for 2020

December 9, 2019 0 Comments

We have covered a lot of what has been happening in Australia’s Pharmacy industry this past year. Looking back, we can highlight certain Trends that will impact Pharmacy jobs as well as the entire industry in general.

Find out what changes will impact your career as you start to prepare for the new year. Some trends will impact your job directly, others will impact the industry leading to new changes and requirements.

Our guide to the Trends in 2020 for Pharmacy Jobs in Australia aims to highlight the Jobs outlook and pay rates for Pharmacists as well as the Industry Trends that will impact the pharmacy industry and healthcare in general.

Pharmacy Jobs in Australia: The Trends for 2020

Pharmacy Job Trends in 2020

Pharmacy Industry Trends in 2020

team of pharmacist chemist woman and man group standing in pharmacy drugstore


Pharmacy Job Trends in 2020

Community Pharmacy Jobs Outlook 

According to the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Australia’s system for community pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has been recognised as “world-leading”. Some key points from the report are:

Overview – There are approx 5,700 community pharmacies in Australia with an average of 440 million individual patient visits a year and 99% of the dispensed PBS prescriptions are claimed electronically online.

Workforce – Community pharmacies employ approx 80,000 staff in Australia. Interestingly, nearly 80% of the total workforce are women and two-thirds of all the 30,000 registered pharmacists in Australia are working in community pharmacies.

Additional Roles – For community pharmacists, medicines adherence is a crucial aspect of their roles. It is estimated there are around 230,000 hospitalisations a year due to medication-related issues, and this costs the healthcare system around $1.2 billion a year. Community pharmacists in all States and Territories can also provide vaccinations after completion of training.

Customers Outlook – Annually, there are around 440 million individual patient visits to pharmacies. In capital cities, 95% of consumers live less than 2.5 km from a pharmacy. In regional areas, 72% of people live less than 2.5 km of a pharmacy.

Pharmacist talking to customer over the counter

Based on a national industries insights report for Community Pharmacies, the top 5 roles in demand in the Community Pharmacy are:

  • Pharmacy Sales Assistant
  • Sales Representatives
  • Sales Assistant (General)
  • Retail Manager (General)
  • Retail Supervisor

The Community Pharmacy sector has a workforce of 41,400 pharmacy sales assistants and generated $18.4 billion in revenue for the 2018-19 period. This is an increase from $16.3 billion in 2016-17.

Additionally to the in-demand list of roles in Community Pharmacies, the National Industry Insights suggested the below skills to be a Top priority for pharmacists: 

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking and resilience
  • Stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Soft skills 

According to the job vacancy data, among the most requested skills by employers in the Community Pharmacy sector were also communication skills and a consistent attention to detail. 

The most advertised positions were for the Pharmacy Sales Assistant followed by the Sales Representative.

It is also worth noting – Pharmacy Graduates were ranked the Most Employed after graduating at university in Australia. 

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Pharmacy careers guide

Source: Pharmacy careers guide – Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Higher Pay Rates for Pharmacists in Australia

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) applied the second phase of the Work Value pay increases to the Pharmacy Industry Award, with Pharmacists in Australia enjoying a pay rise from October 2019. 

The Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA) released the Community Pharmacists Employment and Remuneration Report last year, and the findings suggested the remuneration for pharmacists did not appropriately reflect their skills, training and expertise.

The average hourly rate for pharmacists is fluctuating around $33.01, according to Payscale. While there has been a small rise in some of the pay rates for community pharmacists, wages have stayed generally stagnant across pharmacist classifications in the recent years.

Therefore, the PPA made a submission to the FWC for a 30% increase to the minimum pay rate in the four-yearly review of the award.

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Team of pharmacists using computer at the hospital pharmacy


Pharmacy Industry Trends in 2020

We have extensively discussed the different ways the Pharmacy Industry can exert Power in Australia. More factors have also been discussed and introduced that will impact the industry in 2020. 

24 Hour Pharmacies in Victoria

The Victorian Government is helping more people to get easier access to affordable healthcare and medical advice when they need it, 24-hours every day and closer to their home. It involved opening a number of Supercare Pharmacies across the state to provide additional healthcare, run by both pharmacists and nurses, for various minor illnesses and treatments.

The Government has 2 main interests in funding Supercare Pharmacies.

  • Keep people with minor injuries out of busy hospital emergency departments.
  • Providing people with medical advice and products throughout the night.

The Pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provide all-day access to qualified pharmacists for medical advice, medicine and dispensing prescriptions. 24 Hour Pharmacies can provide a safe and accessible alternative for less urgent matters, but they would not replace doctors or the need to visit an emergency department in extreme cases.

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Pharmacists in 2023: Key Points from the PSA Report

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) published a report earlier this year about ways to empower and optimise the pharmacy professions as a valuable team member in Australia’s healthcare by 2023. 

The key points of recommendation are:

  • Embedding pharmacists in other teams where medicine is used frequently such as medical centres, residential care facilities and Aboriginal health services.
  • Since it is estimated 60% of Australia’s adult population have low levels of health literacy, pharmacists can be better supported to optimise medicine safety and evidence-based education of medical expertise and activities.
  • Greater support for pharmacist-led vaccination programs to protect the immunity of infectious diseases and overseas travel.
  • Support and desire for pharmacy services to be remunerated through a consultation fee reflecting the time and complexity of the services needed. An appropriate model could be the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
  • Stronger recognition of the critical contributions pharmacists provide in Australia by recognising specialisations, support for pharmacist prescribing and an increase in the remuneration to qualified pharmacists.

These key points are meant to serve as a road map towards common goals in healthcare. The ultimate goal is to increase the value of Pharmacy services and what qualified Pharmacists can do in Australia’s healthcare industry. 

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Pharmacy pills loosely in a bunch

Proposals for Extensive Pharmacy Store Services

According to a report from The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, in recent years the average number of times Australians visit a community pharmacy has been around 15-20 times a year.

Issuing Sick Certificates – This can be helpful as waiting for an appointment with a GP could take longer if the patient urgently needed one. There are also guidelines that a pharmacist needs to follow when issuing the sick certificate.

Providing Vaccinations – Pharmacies across Australia have been able to provide vaccinations against the flu. Pharmacists can undergo an accredited vaccination training course in order to be qualified. Some states have also lowered the age limit for children to get a flu shot in pharmacies including Victoria and Western Australia. 

Health Checks and Risk Assessments – Many pharmacies have fully trained pharmacists who can conduct health checks and risk assessments. However, it is highly recommended that patients still share the results with their GPs should there be any abnormalities or need for further testing and examinations.

Unwanted Medicine Disposal – Pharmacists in Australia should be encouraging their communities to check their medicines and to appropriately dispose of unwanted medicines by returning them to the pharmacy at any time for free.

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Additionally, Autonomous Prescribing as well as Electronic Prescribing for Pharmacies are two hot topic areas for discussion that will also impact Pharmacy Store services. 

Earlier this year, the Pharmacy Board released a discussion paper – Pharmacist Prescribing – and suggested three structures under which pharmacists could prescribe:

  1. Autonomous prescribing
  2. Prescribing under supervision
  3. Structured prescribing arrangement

The Pharmacy Guild has responded to this discussion that autonomous pharmacist prescribing would be able to satisfy public needs.

The Guild believed that it would improve access to treatment options for simple conditions that can be managed by a pharmacist, including after hours and weekends when access to other health care professionals can be limited depending on a patient’s location. 

The Guild also suggested prescribing under a structured prescribing arrangement or under supervision creates a dependence on other health care professionals. Therefore, the method would not be flexible enough to meet the needs of all Australians from remote areas where there is severely limited access to a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.

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Electronic Prescribing is an option for prescribers and their patients to choose to have an electronic prescription instead of a traditional paper-based prescription.

Electronic Prescribing was identified as part of the 2018-19 Federal Budget of $28.2 million over five years to implement the national electronic prescribing system.

The system is perceived as a key priority to improve the efficiency, compliance, drug safety and data collection of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medications.

Read More about How Electronic Prescribing can Help Pharmacies 

Pharmacy bandage crossed

Australia’s Opioids Crisis with Changes Coming for Pharmacies

Not only will the marketing material of certain Opioids be investigated in Australia, there are more changes coming for the use of Opioids. Such as changes in packaging in 2020.

ABC news recently reported that the number of Australians accidentally overdosing has climbed by almost 40 per cent in the last decade. This exceeds the national road toll by several hundred people each year. 

Additionally, the Guardian also posted an update on the same matter with the gripping title: “Drug overdoses kill one Australian every five hours”.

And the latest figures released recently, Australia’s 2019 Annual Overdose Report by the Pennington Institute, revealed a dramatic spike in the number of overdose deaths. Especially involving prescribed opioids, heroin and other illicit drugs in the last 5 years. 

In order to change this – In 2017, the Federal Government committed $16 million for the roll out of real-time monitoring on prescription drugs, known as SafeScript

According to news, from April 2020, every medical practitioner and pharmacist in Victoria will need to access SafeScript before they dispense or prescribe any monitored medicines. There are a couple of requirements for pharmacists in operating the system as well. Currently, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT have this monitoring program in place. It is possible that there would soon be a national roll-out for the program. 

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Cheaper Medicine for Australians

Price reductions for common scripts and new medicines have been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) including medicines to treat lung cancer, lymphoblastic and acute leukaemia, and nausea associated with chemotherapy.

A media release from the Minister of Health announced that around 500,000 Australians will have access to cheaper medicines beginning from October 1, with price reductions for common scripts and new medicines in some cases saving over $100,000 per patient.

Treatments for seizures or nerve pain and high cholesterol levels are also listed on the PBS.

The Government is helping to reduce the price on 175 different medicines, with savings of up to $390 million across multiple areas and over 500,000 patients may benefit from them. This initiative shows the Government’s commitment that Australians can have access to affordable medicines when they need to.

Additionally, from 1 January 2020, pensioners and concession card holders will enjoy a lower threshold to receive free or discounted medicines. Their threshold will be reduced by 12 scripts and that of non-concession card holders will have the equivalent of 2 scripts.

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Pharmacy pills spilled from bottle disposal

Performance-based Model Counselling Fee

Dispensing in community pharmacies in Australia is currently remunerated on a fee-for-service basis with little room to create incentives for better performance and quality of care. 

Through quality-linked dispensing remuneration, pharmacists could provide enhanced counselling that will  improve patient outcomes and bring other benefits to the health care system. 

Researchers at the Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences suggested that instead of fast dispensing, it would be better for patients and the healthcare system if pharmacists were better funded for improving the use of medicines rather than just supplying them. 

The proposed changes would require a major restructure to the funding model and dispensing prescriptions. There would also need to be agreements on reliable and valid performance measures and information systems to help with this. 

In the end, funding based on a professional services and performance-based model rather than a volume-based model would greatly support pharmacies in Australia with the patient outcomes and improvements to the overall healthcare system. 

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Speak to one of our Senior Consultants today and find out how they can help you with your career in 2020. 

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