New course tackling critical health professional shortages

A new Charles Darwin University (CDU) course launched this year is helping to address critical health workforce shortages in rural and remote areas of Australia.

CDU’s Master of Pharmacy has attracted an intake of 15 students from across Australia with several from rural and remote locations.

CDU Associate Professor – Pharmacy Heather Volk said the demographic was a testament to the University’s flexible approach to the course, offering it face-to-face and fully online.

“There is a national workforce crisis with pharmacists, particularly in those rural and remote areas,” Associate Professor Volk said.

“This course is allowing these people to study and do their placements in those areas.”

The course condenses three years of study into two academic calendar years.

Students begin a one-day per week placement from the start of their course and are mentored by registered pharmacists who receive training from CDU. Master of Pharmacy graduates are then able to apply for a provisional registration as a pharmacist.

Associate Professor Volk said the course prepared students for the new and evolving scope of pharmacy practices in Australia, with state and territory governments progressively passing legislation to expand the services of pharmacists including in the Northern Territory.

“It’s a really exciting time to get into the pharmacy profession where we’re allowed to work to the full scope of what we’re trained for,” Associate Professor Volk said.

“We have always been trained for but not allowed to work to our full scope. Now with nearly every state and territory changing legislation to allow for prescribing or prescribing trials, we’re now catching up with the rest of the world.”

Associate Professor Volk said the course was also an opportunity for First Nations people to drive critical health change within their communities.

“It allows culturally appropriate care to be develop and delivered, which is really important in places like the Northern Territory,” she said.

CDU held a launch event for the course, celebrating the intake and thanking all partners who contributed to the development.

The launch featured guest speaker Professor Lisa Nissen, who led a successful pilot in Queensland allowing pharmacists to provide immediate advice and treatment for women with uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections.

CDU Faculty of Health Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Dominic Upton said the course would make an invaluable contribution to boosting the Northern Territory and Australia’s health workforce.

“Pharmacists play a crucial role in the health outcomes of the community. The Master of Pharmacy not only equips students with the skills and knowledge they to positively impact the health sector but also exposes them to the range of career opportunities afforded by this ever-changing profession,” Professor Upton said.


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