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Overworked and underpaid pharmacy interns – PPA says it’s time to fix the system


Chris Walton, CEO of Professional Pharmacists Australia (PPA), has said that rather than providing an instructive first step in a career in pharmacy, an increasing number of young pharmacists are reporting an intern year dogged by unexpected problems. This is interfering with them gaining the professional work experience that they need and want.

When asked to comment on their intern year, interns and pharmacists said:

“I was a high achiever at uni, but did the bare minimum to get by during the intern year. By the time the oral exam came around, I had not studied all year, or learnt anything relevant as part of the job. Working in a specialised environment had worked against me as I had never even talked to anyone about simple things like head lice or worms.”

“My intern year was horrible. My employer was only interested in working me as hard as possible for as little as possible. I spent about half a year in isolation in a sterile compounding unit so learnt very little about contemporary pharmacy practice.”

Pharmacy interns are also reporting:

  • Not getting paid (illegal)
  • Receiving very low pay
  • Being required to work excessive hours without overtime pay
  • Being asked to perform duties without training and assistance (for example Home Medicine Reviews)
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Demeaning treatment in front of other staff and customers

The PPA has written to the Pharmacy Board of Australia urging for action on the key problems.

If you are going to be a pharmacy intern in the future, check out a guest article we published recently “Fifty Shades of Pharmacy Grey: things future intern pharmacists must know – by a 2013 intern

Image: easylocum – flickr

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