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Health Sciences Spotlight: New Pathways in Pharmacy

Written by Cheryl Lee, December 2017

Confused about the pathways to take in beginning a Pharmacy / Pharmaceutical Science career?

Here are some pathway options you may consider depending on what suits your interests, and the outcomes you wish to get out of your academic and professional life - plus a spotlight on the new elite qualification open to students seeking advanced qualifications in the industry!

Why Pharmacy?

The world needs pharmacists. As experts on medicines and the way they interact with the body, pharmacists play a vital role in improving the health of their communities. With an increasingly larger and ageing global population and the increasing complexity of medicine, the need for pharmacists has only intensified and looks set to change. In my role as an Australian and New Zealand destination Manager, I have to encountered students who weren’t quite sure of how to begin their journey as a pharmacist and are often confused about the nature of this industry.

Traditionally, there are two main pathways for the Pharmacist, depending on what career and academic outcomes they were seeking:

Undertaking a Singapore Pharmacy Council (SPC) accredited Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) - 4 years

  • Who is it for?

Students who wish to get the more direct, professional qualification, to dispense medicines. Polytechnic students are usually eligible for a year’s credit here.

Undertaking a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science degree - 3 years, and graduate entry Master of Pharmacy - 1.5 to 2 years.

  • Who is it for?

Students who are looking for flexibility and who are still undecided can consider other careers in the dynamic pharmaceutical industry. The option of careers does not necessarily mean dispensing medicine. This path also caters to students who are looking to study a broader science base from which they can build on with further study or work experience.

If you get your kicks from drug formulation (Pharmaceutical Science), this may be a much better pathway for you. You could carry on with further studies (e.g. Honours, a PhD) to become an academic; or enter Pharmaceutical Sales with some on-the-job training or a graduate qualification in Business, etc – the possibilities are endless.

Should you wish to gain a professional qualification to dispense Medicine later: You can always undertake the Master of Pharmacy, which will give Pharmacy Science graduates the professional qualification to become a pharmacist.

Note that you tend to get slightly higher credit for a Pharmacy Science programme (up to 1.5 years) compared to a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree (1 year). So considering a 3.5-year pathway, I’d say that is a pretty good deal for extra flexibility as it culminates in a Masters too so you might command a higher salary!

Now, for the first time in 2017/18, enters in the new third option for pathway, an integrated Bachelors/Masters, the Bachelor Pharmacy (Honours)/Masters of Pharmacy.

Monash University – ranked second only to Harvard for top pharmacy school in the world by QS 2017, has now launched Australia’s first fully integrated Bachelors to Masters programme.

Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) / Masters of Pharmacy

  • What is it?

This is a new, elite, vertical double-degree qualification designed to meet all the new complexities of the healthcare industry; and for the student who is extremely focused on not only the most direct route into Pharmacy, but with the prospect of an exchange, and to also extend and deepen their studies directly into a Masters, all within the same duration.

  • Who is it for?

International students who want to become a registered pharmacist in Australia – this programme takes the same amount of time as what it would typically take to register as a pharmacist in Australia, except that you graduate with a Masters in addition to a Bachelors. Students who want to try out a stint in Monash Malaysia’s Pharmacy programme after some study in the award-winning Parkville programme.

  • Who might be unsuitable for?

International students who would rather practice Pharmacy outside of Australia: do check to see if the Master’s component is a surplus to your home country’s registration requirements, in which case Option 1 (Bachelor of Pharmacy) will suit you better.

Polytechnic students (at least for the time being!), regretfully, due to the integrated nature of the programme and how new it is at the moment, there isn’t an articulation set in stone yet for Polytechnic students, so credit cannot be assessed yet.

Why Should I Do The Masters in Pharmacy?

With the changing face of healthcare and an increasingly ageing population, pharmacists will play an increasingly larger role in helping people. To do this requires increasing collaboration between multidisciplinary teams of various healthcare professionals (doctors, oncologists, nutritionists, dieticians, etc) and to grapple with medicines becoming increasingly complex and varied.

With the increasing complexity and team-based work, today’s graduates need enhanced teamwork, communication skills and a higher level of scientific knowledge to lead this change, and to equip graduates for a long, satisfying career.

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