Residents in rural areas face various issues in having access to health services. There are barriers to timely access to services including Pharmacists, limitations on travel distances and out of pocket costs.
Opportunities for Pharmacists in Rural Australia
The RACGP Rural Chair Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda released a statement outlining that “due to resource and staffing constraints, there is a considerable health disparity between urban and more remote communities that must be addressed by both State and Federal Governments.”
In 2019, there was a reported shortage of Pharmacists in hospital and retail roles in both Metropolitan and Regional areas of NSW. This resulted in:
A lack of rural pharmacy job roles being filled which was wide spread across entry level roles up to senior roles
Government data shows that Pharmacy recruitment was the most difficult in Tasmania, whilst South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory also face shortages of Pharmacists
Despite growing numbers of Pharmacy Graduates and high pharmacist salaries on offer for moving west, unfortunately for rural residents, this has not translated into an increase in rural practitioners filling pharmacy roles
The Australian Government Department of Health reported that in response, $6.9m was invested into the ‘Rural Pharmacy Workforce Programs’ of which were designed and implemented to increase residents in remote and rural areas access to quality pharmacy services whilst supporting and strengthening the rural pharmacy workforce. There is concern for supply vs demand as Australia’s population is growing and ageing, therefore, the demand for Pharmacists continues to rise. The need for Pharmacists in Australia is further outlined by:
To see one of our previous articles about what employers look for in Pharmacy Graduates see here.
Rural and remote residents face decreased access to health searches including pharmacy services with a maldistribution of the health workforce. This highlights the challenges rural and remote health services face in providing services to populations with lower health literacy, socioeconomic status and higher rates of chronic disease. There is a great need for further incentives for health professionals to undertake rural and remote roles to ensure quality health outcomes for those in need.
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