Analysis of the demographics and characteristics of the Australian pharmacist workforce 2013-2018: decreasing supply points to the need for a workforce strategy

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OBJECTIVES: An adequate workforce is necessary for health care delivery. The last official analysis of the Australian pharmacist workforce was in 2014 and the results of recent studies are contradictory. The objective of this work was to determine current demographic details and recent trends of the pharmacy workforce and assess the impact of changes in student numbers and migration policy. 

METHODS: Longitudinal and descriptive analysis was undertaken of National Health Workforce Datasets and registrant data available from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Pharmacy Board of Australia from 2013 to 2018. 

KEY FINDINGS: There was an increase in females and a trend towards hospital practice but no change in the geographic distribution of pharmacists over the period. However, the pharmacist workforce grew more slowly than comparable health professions and while the youngest pharmacist cohort (20-34 years) remains the largest, the next oldest cohort increased at a greater rate. The youngest cohort reported a decrease in intention to remain working in pharmacy. 

CONCLUSIONS: A fall in student numbers and changes to immigration policy have contributed to a low growth rate and ageing of the pharmacist workforce compared with other professions. Whether these factors along with the intentions of young pharmacists will result in a shortage is dependent on developments in demand for pharmacists and a workforce strategy is required to monitor these developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Australia
  • migration
  • pharmacists
  • workforce

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