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Australian Pharmacy for International Graduates

Appleton

Dentistry Student
Hey MSO,

I'm posting here as I have no idea how else to get in touch with an Australian pharmacist. I'm really hoping for some valuable input from a local perspective!

My partner is an American pharmacist with a PharmD, looking to move to Australia in the near future. She is extremely worried about the differences in pharmacy practice and the whole process of getting registered/hired locally. We are both aware of the enormous difference in pay but we are willing to look past that. So far, everything we could find paints a bleak outlook of pharmacy here, but we are hoping it's the vocal minority.

If there is anyone on here who could share their experience as a pharmacist here, and what the process might be like for foreign graduates, please chime in! Alternatively, I would be very grateful if there is someone willing to talk candidly about Australian pharmacy in private.

Thank you for your time.

J
 

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TKAO

oowah!
Valued Member
hey Appleton. Most people here are med students or doctors themselves. There are few if any practicing pharmacists that are active here. Perhaps someone might be able to help you out if they see this, but to increase your chances I'd also suggest that you ask/look for someone on pagingdr.net. It is much like here, but instead of appealing to the undergraduate med crowd, it mainly appeals to the postgraduate GAMSAT crowd. Your luck may be better there.

In terms of being a pharmacist or practicing as one I probably wouldn't be able to help you out there. However, as a blanket statement if you are willing to work rurally as a pharmacist or you as a dentist, your employment prospects would be much better than if you were to work in the cities. Not to mention the pay may be better than the cities if they are desperate to attract talent outside of urban areas. What makes your partner want to come over here if the pay in America is better anyway?
 

A1

Admissions Speculator
Moderator
Hi welcome to MSO. My mum is a part-time Pharmacist so I know a little about the requirements. Pharmacists need to obtain registration with AHPRA, for Aus/NZ graduates that means: 1) complete an accredited degree, 2) do an "internship" of 1,800 hours of supervised practice, 3) then pass the Board's written & oral exams.

US qualification needs to go through an Aus Pharmacy Council Skills Assessment as detailed in these links
> Pharmacy Board of Australia - Overseas Practitioner Registration
> APC Skills Assessment · Australian Pharmacy Council

It reads to me like a US pre-registration graduate (if such exists) would be Stream A requiring the full 1800hr internship after the Assessment. An already practising Pharmacist would be Stream B requiring a shorter internship. Hope this helps.
 

Appleton

Dentistry Student
Hey Tkao,

Thank you very much for taking the time to post a reply. I will try other avenues as suggested. I’m almost tempted to just walk into a Chemist Warehouse and look for one!

Unfortunately, the pathway for her to practise pharmacy in Australia is easier than me practising dentistry in the U.S. Foreign dentists need to complete a two year Advanced Standing program for 200-300k USD, which is completely impractical for us. We’re also considering Canada and NZ, basically anywhere where it’s feasible for both of us to seek employment.

P.S. Any idea how to change the tagline under my name? I’m no longer a first year BDS.
 

Appleton

Dentistry Student
Hey A1, thank you so much for your reply. Sounds like we’re in for a lengthy ride anyway! Hopefully we’ll be able to get some insight into the workload and work culture of pharmacy here. That’s something that isn’t on the AHPRA website, sadly.

Once again, thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it.
 

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LMG!

Moderator
Staff Member of the Year 2019
P.S. Any idea how to change the tagline under my name? I’m no longer a first year BDS.
I changed it to say ‘Dentist’, if that’s not accurate or you want it to say something else, let me know (you can edit it yourself or I can do it again).
 

Appleton

Dentistry Student
I changed it to say ‘Dentist’, if that’s not accurate or you want it to say something else, let me know (you can edit it yourself or I can do it again).
Hey LMG, many thanks for doing that. How do I edit my tagline myself? Thank you for the help.
 

TKAO

oowah!
Valued Member
Hey LMG, many thanks for doing that. How do I edit my tagline myself? Thank you for the help.
click your profile in your top right --> click account details --> scroll til you reach something called custom title then change as you please
 
Hey MSO,

I'm posting here as I have no idea how else to get in touch with an Australian pharmacist. I'm really hoping for some valuable input from a local perspective!

My partner is an American pharmacist with a PharmD, looking to move to Australia in the near future. She is extremely worried about the differences in pharmacy practice and the whole process of getting registered/hired locally. We are both aware of the enormous difference in pay but we are willing to look past that. So far, everything we could find paints a bleak outlook of pharmacy here, but we are hoping it's the vocal minority.

If there is anyone on here who could share their experience as a pharmacist here, and what the process might be like for foreign graduates, please chime in! Alternatively, I would be very grateful if there is someone willing to talk candidly about Australian pharmacy in private.

Thank you for your time.

J

Hi Appleton

Ha! superlate reply. Did you ever make it to Australia? Not sure if you still wanted to know about pharmacy in Australia.
I worked in NZ as a pharmacist but know of Australian ones so know how the system works.
In a nut shell it is vastly different. Let me know if you still wanted some info
 

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Limobean

Regular Member
She is extremely worried about the differences in pharmacy practice and the whole process of getting registered/hired locally. We are both aware of the enormous difference in pay but we are willing to look past that. So far, everything we could find paints a bleak outlook of pharmacy here, but we are hoping it's the vocal minority.
Hi sorry for the late reply Appleton, but I haven't been on MSO until recently. I'm one of the very few (if any) practising registered community pharmacists in this forum. Not sure if my answer is still relevant considering it's been more than 6 months since you posted your question, but I'll give you my perspective nevertheless. Note: I do not work in hospital pharmacy, so I can only give my experience from a community pharmacist perspective.

There are many differences in pharmacy practice between USA and here. The most obvious is the laws and regulation as well as scheduling of drugs (eg. over the counter, pharmacist only, prescription only) with some differences between Australian states (eg. pharmacy medicines such as cold and flu medicines need to be physically behind a counter so customers cannot self select in Queensland, while in other states there is not a barrier so customers can self select). The vast majority of prescriptions are in paper form with electronic prescriptions only becoming legal this year (not widely used yet). Many, if not all, medicines are pre-packaged into certain quantities (eg. blood pressure medicines are in boxes of 28/30 tablets) so dispensing is relatively quick compared to US as you don't need to individually count each tablet from a bottle of 500 tablets. The exception is when you need to break a box for quantities different to usual box sizes (eg. if the doctor requests for only 3 days' worth of antibiotics vs 7 days). Some community pharmacists are trained to perform additional services such as vaccinations.

In terms of the outlook of community pharmacy, it used to be quite bleak some years ago. Too many universities pumping out too many students (last time I checked there were 19 pharmacy schools in Australia), with low pay and penalty rates being cut. If you work at a 'Discount Model' pharmacy, your pay is generally slightly above or at Award rate. If you work in a 'Service Model' pharmacy, you tend to earn a higher wage. Of course in rural areas, you will generally be paid a lot more with some places offering paid accommodation or relocation costs. In terms of job prospects, there seems to be a maldistribution, with pharmacists having trouble finding jobs in metropolitan areas to pharmacies in rural areas struggling to get any pharmacists out there.

With the 'Discount Model' pharmacies taking over huge amount of market share, it's getting very difficult to open up your own pharmacy and existing pharmacies are struggling to compete. Being retail, you get verbally and sometimes physically abused by customers and sometimes you feel more like a glorified shop keeper than an actual health professional.

However, things have improved a little and pharmacists are a bit happier but not by much. A lot of pharmacists I know have left the profession to go back to university to study something else or try to get into medicine/dentistry.

Appleton, with regards to getting registered as a foreign graduate, please see Admissions Speculator's response.

Kind Regards
 

Appleton

Dentistry Student
Ha! superlate reply. Did you ever make it to Australia? Not sure if you still wanted to know about pharmacy in Australia.
I worked in NZ as a pharmacist but know of Australian ones so know how the system works.
In a nut shell it is vastly different. Let me know if you still wanted some info
Thanks for your kind offer too! Fortunately we've had the opportunity to talk to a couple of hospital/community pharmacists since then. I'll hit you up otherwise!

Hi sorry for the late reply Appleton, but I haven't been on MSO until recently. I'm one of the very few (if any) practising registered community pharmacists in this forum. Not sure if my answer is still relevant considering it's been more than 6 months since you posted your question, but I'll give you my perspective nevertheless.
Wow Limobean!

Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us. It has been 6 months but I'm still actively looking around as Covid put a stopper in our plans anyway. Unfortunately, Australian and US retail pharmacy practice seem to share a lot of the same problems but they get paid much more to deal with the crappy side haha. We spoke to a couple of hospital pharmacists since then and I think that might be where we're leaning towards - hopefully we'll be lucky enough to land a position, although I know how competitive it is in that area.
 

Limobean

Regular Member
Thank you very much for your comprehensive reply. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience with us. It has been 6 months but I'm still actively looking around as Covid put a stopper in our plans anyway.
No worries. Ohh I see. If anything, COVID has made a lot of pharmacists who were thinking of leaving the profession stay, as they were lucky to still have a job and job prospects in other industries were uncertain. Pharmacists are counted as 'essential workers' and pharmacies stayed open this whole time (except if they needed to deep clean if they had a positive case) so many customers and staff people appreciated it.

Unfortunately, Australian and US retail pharmacy practice seem to share a lot of the same problems but they get paid much more to deal with the crappy side haha.
Oh yeah. I've read/heard American Pharmacists rant about it. But yeah, you're right in terms of salary; they do get so much more. However, they did do more study to begin with and have personal loans/ lots of debt to pay off compared to us in Australia.

We spoke to a couple of hospital pharmacists since then and I think that might be where we're leaning towards - hopefully we'll be lucky enough to land a position, although I know how competitive it is in that area.
Good luck! There aren't many positions and certain hospitals were cutting staff too. In terms of pay, public hospital pharmacists get paid more and have more benefits, while private hospital pharmacists get paid according to Award (with some exceptions). Hopefully things work out for you and your partner.
 
Thanks for your kind offer too! Fortunately we've had the opportunity to talk to a couple of hospital/community pharmacists since then. I'll hit you up otherwise!
The Australia and NZ pharmacy system is quite similar, you can cross register between the two countries very easily.

If it makes your partner feel better, NZ has all the same problems as Australia only we are paid even less and all the problems listed in Australia for pharmacy also apply to NZ. My background has been in hospital so if thats the direction she plans on taking, just make sure she doesn't have the same expectations as what she would get in the states.

I have taken pharmacy students from Colorado for their electives and they have mentioned NZ community pharmacists actually have a larger role to play in the community but that our pay was epically sad. This applies to Australia also given the two countries are so similiar (this is why everyone including myself is leaving the profession).

In terms of hospital, the biggest difference aside from sad pay is that we do not have set training programmes like they do in the states. Australia is better than NZ (our chief pharmacist from the old hospital I was at was from Australia so told us about it) in that they now have more progressive pathways so you can essentially specialise and become a "consultant" pharmacist in a chosen speciality BUT this is still a very recent process when compared to the states and difficult to achieve.

Good luck! I hope your partner finds a nice job she enjoys!
 
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