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Health & Medical Sciences

What are the alternative careers for pharmacists in Australia?

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Changing careers as a pharmacist means bringing valuable, transferable skills with you. If you’re considering a shift, discover the possibilities.

The recent announcements about 60-day dispensing and changes to the supply of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines have brought uncertainty on the future of pharmacy in Australia for some pharmacists. However, with change comes transformation and opportunity, and pharmacists may be considering alternative careers.

Mark Naunton, Head of School of Health Sciences and Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Canberra, views the recent changes in the field as an opportunity. He highlights the following ways in which these changes can be seen as positive:

  • Existing community pharmacists can dedicate more time to their customers, enhancing their consumer-centred health and wellbeing service model.
  • Those considering pharmacy as a future career should not be disheartened, as pharmacists are still in demand.
  • Individuals seeking a change have a wealth of career options available to them.

Mark reminds experienced pharmacists of the abundance of skills they hold. “There are transferable skills that many pharmacists don’t know they’ve got,” he says. “Sometimes, they’re not even sure how to apply them in other areas if they’re looking for a change.”

For pharmacists seeking a career shift, the news is promising. Finding work in the healthcare industry — and exploring opportunities elsewhere — is possible. Start by uncovering your transferable skills and understanding how upskilling can propel you into a new career.

Changing career from a pharmacist? Harness your transferable skills

Uncertainty surrounding the future of pharmacy in Australia has sparked conversations by pharmacists about leaving the profession. On the positive side, these healthcare professionals considering a move are already equipped with skills to help them transfer to other positions.

“If pharmacists need to transfer, they've got the skills to look at other settings,” Mark said. “Attention to detail, communication, problem-solving skills, critical thinking and time management. These could all be transferable to other areas.”

Mark also explores the possibilities for pharmacists to continue working in the pharmacy field with a renewed focus. “There’s the clinical side of pharmacy, but there’s also logistics and data,” he says. “A typical pharmacy degree doesn’t give you all the skills you’ll need for those, but a postgraduate qualification can.”

Alternative careers for pharmacists in Australia

Whether upskilling or branching out to a new area of practice, there are countless opportunities for pharmacists seeking a new career path.

“Pharmacists have a broad knowledge of the health system,” Mark says. “There’s aged care, general practice, diabetes education and a range of areas people could move into.”

For others, pursuing a career in social work, counselling, psychology, or healthcare leadership may align more with their goals. “A pharmacist could get into a specialisation and upskill with a qualification,” Mark says.

Beyond healthcare roles that are patient-facing, there are other careers to consider. “Opportunities exist in education, policy, informatics, digital health, data analysis, automation and even business management,” Mark says.

Using your qualifications and experience, you can explore many new professional pathways as a pharmacist. “A pharmacy degree is like an arts degree in health. You have training in general skills that are transferable, even outside of pharmacy.”

Advance your career with postgraduate study

Ready to explore the possibilities beyond a career as a pharmacist? GlobalHealth Education partners with Australian universities delivering postgraduate qualifications in health leadership, psychology, counselling, mental health, nursing and public health