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How to become a pharmacist

3 March 2020
All you need to know about becoming a pharmacist in Australia
To become a registered pharmacist in Australia you must complete an accredited university degree in pharmacy, a one-year paid internship and intern training program and then pass the Pharmacy Board's registration examination.

Whether you're a school leaver who is just starting out or a mature age student looking for a career change, below we outline the three main steps to becoming a registered pharmacist in Australia.  

1. Complete a university degree in pharmacy

Straight from high-school

You can apply to study pharmacy as an undergraduate student straight from high school if you meet the minimum ATAR score, mathematics course prerequisite and English language requirements.

HSC Biology and Chemistry are also recommended but not required for admission. Students who have not completed these subjects are strongly advised to take a bridging course prior to commencing their studies.

At the University of Sydney you can choose from:

  • the Bachelor of Pharmacy (4-year degree), where you will learn how drugs are developed and how medications affect the human body, or;
  • the Bachelor of Pharmacy and Management (5-year degree), which teaches you to apply key business knowledge to your pharmacy practice, no matter which professional pharmacy avenue you choose.

After completing a bachelor’s degree at university

If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree, you can apply to study pharmacy as a postgraduate student given that you meet the minimum Grade Point Average (GPA), the prerequisite subject requirements and English language requirements.

If you do not meet the minimum GPA (currently 5.0 over 7.0 or 65% at USYD), passing the Graduate Australian Medical Admissions Test (GAMSAT), or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), can also be accepted.

With a strong practical focus, the Master of Pharmacy (2-year degree) is a fast-track program, designed to prepare you for all aspects of the pharmacy profession including leadership in innovative and evidence-based practice.

2. Complete a 1-year internship and concurrent intern training program

Upon graduating with a degree in pharmacy, you will be required to apply for ‘provisional’ registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia in order to complete a one-year paid internship.

Working under the supervision of a registered pharmacist, as an intern you will build on the practical experience gained in your degree to ensure you have the skills required for all areas of pharmacy practice, including:

  • preparing and dispensing medications and ointments
  • providing advice on prescription medications, ‘over-the-counter’ products and complementary medicines (including selection, dosage, interactions, side-effects and therapeutic effects)
  • liaising with patients, their doctors and family to determine medication history and correct dosages
  • checking for errors and conducting medication reviews
  • promoting health awareness
  • understanding legally recognised standards and government regulations for the supply of medicines
During this period of supervised practice, you must also complete an accredited Intern Training Program (ITP). University of Sydney graduates who successfully complete the Pharmacy Intern Training A and Pharmacy Intern Training B units of study (which form part of the Graduate Certificate in Pharmacy Practice) will automatically qualify for an accredited ITP Certificate.

3. Sit the Pharmacy Board of Australia’s registration exam

Only once you complete this internship and training program will you be able to sit the Pharmacy Board’s registration examination (comprising of a written and oral component) and be eligible to apply for general registration as a pharmacist in Australia.

Pharmacists require this registration to find employment in a variety of clinical settings and specialities, including hospital and community pharmacies, consultancy, government and industrial positions.

Transferring from overseas

If you are an overseas practitioner, you are still required to register with the Pharmacy Board of Australia and sit an examination with the Australian Pharmacy Council (pharmacists from New Zealand are exempt).

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