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Pharmacy students face training crisis

Media Release 4 September 2003

Attention: Health Reporters

Pharmacy students face training crisis

The pharmacy profession is facing a crisis in finding enough places for student pharmacists to complete their training.

Only 86 of 170 students have secured placements with pharmacies for their 2004 intern year. They must complete a year’s training in a pharmacy before they can register as pharmacists. Without this internship their four-year degree is wasted.

Pharmaceutical Society Chief Executive and Registrar Joan Baas said the crisis had come about as a result of the Government’s decision to adopt three-month bulk dispensing of medicines, which is due to take effect on 1 October 2003.

“Many pharmacists are going to struggle to survive once ‘stat’ dispensing comes into force. They are saying they can no longer afford to employ their existing staff let alone trainees.

“The only option left for these students is to attempt to register in Australia. Many are considering doing this and we fear that, once registered in Australia, they will be lost to New Zealand forever.

“In the meantime, pharmacy is likely to become an unattractive career option and New Zealand will face an acute shortage of pharmacists in the future.”

Dr Baas said the Government and district health boards were looking at alternative training placements for students in agencies such as Medsafe and PHARMAC.

However, these agencies could not provide complete training for interns who need experience in a community or hospital pharmacy as well.

“To become a competent pharmacist, a graduate needs to apply their pharmacy degree to actual patients. These agencies cannot provide this,” she said. “We also fear that these options will not deliver the number of placements needed.

“It is essential that pharmacy graduates can look forward to a future in New Zealand and taxpayers can reap the benefit from the millions of dollars spent on their under-graduate training.”


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