More experiential placements and internship certainty needed as students aim for hospital careers

Hospital pharmacy remains entrenched as the destination of choice for Australian pharmacy students, despite perceived barriers to entry, prompting the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) to reiterate calls for a nationwide approach to hospital internship placements and increased hospital placements in undergrad curricula.

The National Pharmacy Students Survey 2019, conducted by the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA), found 46% of respondents see themselves working in hospital pharmacy in five years’ time, up slightly from previous surveys, and 80% of students are keen to undertake a hospital pharmacy residency after registration.

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels says the organisation will continue to advocate for more opportunities for university students to prepare for working in the hospital pharmacy environment.

‘Despite broad enthusiasm, one-third of students do not feel they have enough guidance in applying for hospital employment and 40% don’t believe they have gained enough exposure to the hospital setting while studying.

‘To ensure as many of our best and brightest have the strongest possible grounding for a challenging and rewarding career in hospital pharmacy, more hospital placements should be embedded in undergraduate programs nationwide. To this end, we welcome the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC)’s Accreditation Standards for Pharmacy Programs in Australia and New Zealand 2020 that include newly mandated hospital placements.

‘Similarly, the Victorian model of intern-hospital preferential matching should be rolled out across the country, as this centralised approach provides students with greater certainty around the process and timing of job offers.’

Ms Michaels says this week’s re-signing of an MoU between NAPSA and SHPA will ensure new initiatives can bridge the gap between enthusiasm for hospital pharmacy and practical pathways into the workforce.

‘This week we are pleased to re-sign the MoU with NAPSA which will see ongoing opportunities for students to gain an edge, such as undergraduate research publication, education, industry insights and networking.

‘Most notably, we look forward to jointly hosting the 2020 NAPSA-SHPA Student Symposium this winter, an intensive, all-day opportunity for students to prepare themselves for a hospital pharmacy career.’

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