Why do Australian registered pharmacists leave the profession? a qualitative study

Vivienne Mak, Geoff March, Alice Clark, Andrew Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Understanding why people choose to leave their professions is important to inform workforce planning to meet community needs. Poor job satisfaction has been linked to health practitioners expressing intentions to leave in other professions such as nursing, occupational therapy and medicine, but little is known about the reasons why pharmacists leave their profession. 

Objective: To explore reasons why Australian pharmacists leave the profession. 

Setting: As part of a survey of the Australian pharmacist workforce, a questionnaire was mailed to all registered pharmacists (n = 7,764) on the registers of the Pharmacy Boards of Victoria and South Australia; 1,627 (21 %) responded. Participants, who were registered but no longer working as a pharmacist, were asked to provide contact details if they were willing to be interviewed for this study; 89 (5.5 %) pharmacists accepted an invitation. A proportionate sample of 20 was selected for the interview. 

Method: A semi-structured interview schedule was developed with probe options which encouraged participants to further explore their responses to questions. De-identified audio records of interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed. 

Main outcome measure: Reasons why pharmacists leave the pharmacy profession. 

Results: Five themes emerged: (1) Dissatisfaction with the professional environment; (2) lack of career paths and opportunities; (3) under-utilisation of pharmacists' knowledge and skills; (4) wanting a change; and (5) staying connected with pharmacy. 

Conclusion: These findings provide insights to the pharmacy sector, previously unexplored in Australia, and informs future pharmacist workforce planning. To retain experienced, mid-career pharmacists in the profession, strategies to increase opportunities for career progression, better use of pharmacists' knowledge and skills and involvement in patient care are required to increase job satisfaction and improve retention rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Attrition
  • Australia
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Interviews
  • Job satisfaction
  • Pharmacist workforce

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