Becoming a hospital pharmacist

Pharmacists play a key role in providing evidence-based health care in Australia. All pharmacists, whether working in community, hospital or other settings have the same qualification. 

Hospital Pharmacy - A World of Possibilities
Pathway to becoming a pharmacist
Further education

Hospital Pharmacy - A World of Possibilities

These PDFs provide printable resources about becoming a Hospital Pharmacist. Additional information is also available on the SHPA Careers Website. 

Hospital Pharmacy - A World of Possibilities (8-page booklet)
Hospital Pharmacy - A World of Possibilities (A4 pamphlet)
SHPA Careers Website


Pathway to becoming a pharmacist

Here’s how to become a pharmacist. To become a practicing pharmacist you need to:

  1. Complete an approved program of study at university.
  2. Obtain Provisional Registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia.
  3. Enrol in and complete an accredited intern training program and get an intern position.
  4. Complete a year (1824 hours) of supervised practice (intern position).
  5. Pass extensive oral and written exams.

You can then apply for General Registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia. You must have General Registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia to work independently as a pharmacist in Australia.

Visit the Pharmacy Board of Australia website for the most up-to-date information about becoming a pharmacist in Australia.

If you are registered as a pharmacist in another country, visit the Pharmacy Board website for information on how to become registered as a pharmacist in Australia.

1. Complete an approved program of study at university

There are two types of programs you can complete, a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a Master of Pharmacy degree.

Bachelor of Pharmacy degrees are generally undergraduate degrees and usually take four years of full-time study to complete. Some Bachelor of Pharmacy programs allow for graduate entry, which may shorten the time taken to complete the degree if you qualify for credit. The Master of Pharmacy is a graduate-entry degree, meaning you need to have completed an appropriate undergraduate degree first. The Master of Pharmacy usually takes two years of full-time study to complete. Visit the Pharmacy Board of Australia website for a list of all the approved pharmacy schools in Australia and New Zealand.

Bachelor of Pharmacy and Master of Pharmacy degrees are challenging and rewarding. You’ll learn extensively about medicines and how they are used to treat diseases in people. You’ll also learn all the professional and ethical and legal issues associated with pharmacy practice, including the laws regarding the supply of medicines. You can find out more about each pharmacy degree, including entrance scores and pre-requisite subjects, by contacting pharmacy schools directly. 

After finishing either the Bachelor of Pharmacy or the Master of Pharmacy degree you then need to apply to the Pharmacy Board of Australia for Provisional Registration and complete a year of supervised practice (internship).


2. Obtain Provisional Registration with the Pharmacy Board of Australia

You have to do this before you can start your internship. You need to fill in a form, provide some ID, a copy of your academic qualification and some other information. You can find out more at the Pharmacy Board of Australia website.


3. Enrol in and complete an accredited intern training program and get an intern position

You must enrol in an accredited intern training program as part of the requirement of supervised practice before you obtain full registration as a pharmacist. You can find a list of accredited intern training programs on the Australian Pharmacy Council website. Intern training programs are designed to help you make the most of your on-the-job training and help you prepare for the oral and written exams.

To get an intern position you will need to contact potential employers to ask for a position. Some pharmacies advertise their positions. Some hospital pharmacies have central recruitment pools. Your university can tell you more about the process.


4. Complete a year (1824 hours) of supervised practice (internship)

As an intern you do the work of a pharmacist under the supervision of another pharmacist. Most pharmacists complete their training in a community or hospital pharmacy. During the intern year you must complete an oral exam and a written exam.

With your pharmacy degree and during your intern year, you’ll learn everything you need to know to become a registered pharmacist. You can get an idea of all the skills required by a pharmacist by skimming through the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia. This document may seem daunting, but your university degree and your internship year will set you up to meet these requirements.


5. Pass extensive written and oral exams

These exams are run by the Pharmacy Board of Australia and the Australian Pharmacy Council. You must pass both examinations to successfully transition from Provisional Registration to General Registration and become a registered pharmacist and able to work as a pharmacist in Australia.

Before sitting the written examination you must have completed 30% of your supervised practice hours. Before attempting the oral examination you must have completed 75% of your supervised practice hours. Each examination is run several times each year. The Australian Pharmacy Council has produced an online training module to help interns get ready for their written exams.



Further education

Being a pharmacist requires lifelong learning and commitment.

Once you register as a pharmacist, the learning doesn’t stop there. Pharmacy is a career that requires continual education; the profession is always evolving. You’ll need to keep up-to-date with new medicines, new treatments and new skills. As a requirement of registration as a pharmacist with the Pharmacy Board of Australia you must do Continuing Professional Development (CPD) each year. SHPA has everything you need to meet the Pharmacy Board’s CPD requirements. You may also choose to specialise in a specific area of pharmacy or undertake postgraduate study.

Whilst any pharmacist can work in a hospital pharmacy, senior positions are often filled by pharmacists with strong clinical skills and relevant training. This might involve a clinical pharmacy Masters or participation in SHPA’s clinical pharmacy education as part of your CPD. For more information about how to enhance your career prospects in hospital pharmacy contact SHPA’s CPD Advisor .

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