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Pharmacist - additional information

Pharmacy - Australian Migration Requirements

Pharmacy

Most pharmacists in Australia practise in the community (ie. retail businesses) or in hospitals. Some work in the pharmaceutical industry, academic and government institutions, the public service or the armed services.

Community pharmacists have a wide range of responsibilities. These include processing prescriptions, maintenance of patient medication records, health promotion, patient medication, counselling, primary health care, specialised medication administration systems, services to patients with particular needs (eg. diabetics, asthmatics and the elderly), domiciliary care, nursing home and private hospital services, therapeutic device supply and fitting, methadone maintenance programs, public health screening programs and providing expert advice to medical practitioners and other health professionals.

Hospital pharmacists, in addition to the supply and control of medication within hospitals, also provide a wide range of special services, such as drug information, sterile medicines, radio-pharmacy, oncological, ward pharmacy and clinical services. They work closely with other health professionals to optimise drug therapy and patient care management.

The industrial pharmacist's work involves the manufacture and distribution of drugs and medicinal products. This includes quality control, product development, formulation, production, management, research and technical sales including medical detailing. Industrial pharmacists need to be registered only if they distribute drugs and medicines to the public, although some organisations may only employ those who are eligible for registration.

Australian Pharmacy Examining Council 

The Australian Pharmacy Examining Council (APEC) is the assessing authority for and hospital pharmacists intending to apply for migration to Australia, and can be contacted for more detailed information about the APEC assessment and examination procedure.

Recognition Procedures in Australia

Each Australian State and Territory has separate legislation covering the recognition of pharmacy qualifications. To practise pharmacy you must be registered with the local State or Territory pharmacy registration authority. The unregistered practice of pharmacy is punishable by law.

Qualifications Gained in Australia

If you obtained your pharmacy qualifications in Australia and are intending to migrate to Australia you will need a formal skills assessment of your qualifications completed by APEC.

Qualifications Immediately Acceptable to Pharmacy Registration Authorities

If you obtained your pharmacy degree and licence to practise in the United Kingdom, Ireland or New Zealand you will be accepted for registration by all State and Territory pharmacy registering authorities. Conditions for registration will vary between the registering authorities, and you may need a short period of practical experience supervised by a pharmacist in Australia before you can be registered.

If you are intending to migrate to Australia you will need a skills assessment completed by APEC but will not be required to complete the APEC examination process.

Qualifications not Immediately Acceptable to Registration Authorities

If your qualifications do not immediately meet the Australian requirements, there are two options. The first is to complete an Australian pharmacy degree course at a recognised Australian university. The qualifications awarded by these institutions satisfy the formal academic requirements for registration by all State and Territory pharmacy registering authorities. If you enrol in an award course, you may gain credit for your overseas studies. Universities are self-governing and determine their own entry requirements for credit transfers. You will then need to complete a period of supervised practical training - conditions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The second option is to undertake the examination process conducted by the Australian Pharmacy Examining Council Inc (APEC). Applicants need to formally apply for an assessment to determine their eligibility to undertake the examination process.

Applicants must have completed an approved pharmacy course which included a minimum component of the equivalent of three years of full time academic study. The applicant must also be registered or be eligible for registration as a pharmacist in the country in which the qualification was obtained.

After successful completion of the Stage I Examination candidates must reside in Australia and have permission to work at least 25 hours per week (30 hours in New South Wales) to complete the remainder of the examination process.

The process is as follows:

  • Eligibility Assessment � assessment of qualifications and associated documents to determine the applicant�s eligibility to undertake the APEC examination procedure;
    Please note that an application for an assessment of qualifications determines a person�s eligibility to undertake the examination procedure. It is not an application to sit the Stage I Examination. When a person�s eligibility is determined, APEC forwards separate examination application forms to the person.
  • English Language Requirement - a pass in the Occupational English Test (OET) or an overall score of Band 7 (with a minimum score of 6 in each of the four components) at the academic level of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a prerequisite to attempting the Stage I Examination (some candidates may be granted an exemption);
  • Stage I Examination - a written multiple-choice-question examination covering basic pharmaceutical sciences;
  • Interview and counselling;
  • A period of supervised practice in an Australian pharmacy; and
  • Stage II Examination - a practical, written and oral examination covering the practice of pharmacy.

    Counselling is mandatory throughout the procedure and is provided for candidates living in Australia by members of APEC.

    A skills assessment letter is issued upon successful completion of an Eligibility Assessment, English Language test and Stage examination for migration purposes.

    The satisfactory completion of the entire examination process is required before a candidate may apply for registration as a pharmacist with a relevant registering authority in Australia. The APEC examination procedure is only part of the total assessment by pharmacy registering authorities and you may have to meet other requirements to be able to practise as a pharmacist in Australia. All pharmacy registering authorities reserve the right to impose additional requirements to those stipulated by APEC.

    If you live overseas you may take the OET or IELTS and the APEC Stage I Examination overseas. If you are in Australia, you can sit these examinations in any of the State or Territory capital cities. The Stage II Examination is only held in Australia.

    The Stage I Examination is held in the first week of March and September each year with closing dates of 1 January for the March session and 1 July for the September session. The Stage II Examination is held at least once each year, only in Australia.

    When you complete the APEC examination procedure you will be eligible for an APEC Certificate, which entitles you to apply for registration with any of the Australian pharmacy registering authorities. Once you are registered in Australia you will have the same rights to practise as an Australian trained pharmacist.

    Professional Organisations

    Most pharmacists in Australia are members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia which operates through State and Territory branches. The Society and its branches are concerned with educational, ethical and professional aspects of pharmacy. Membership of the Society is open to any registered pharmacist. Student membership may be allowed which may give you access to continuing education seminars.

    Specialised organisations concentrate on particular aspects of the profession in Australia - the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the pharmacy owners' organisation) and the Salaried Pharmacists Association which looks after salaried pharmacists. Membership of these bodies is open to registered pharmacists working in these specific areas.

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