Building a home grown workforce
JCU’s Academic Head of Pharmacy, Associate Professor John Smithson, said the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated regional workforce shortages in pharmacy and other health professions. New services had been created to match community demand during the pandemic, with community pharmacists at the front line of the COVID vaccination effort.
“To address regional pharmacist workforce shortages in Queensland, we had to provide not just the opportunity to study locally, but also address access,” A/Prof Smithson said. “Many people cannot relocate to a different city easily, and those who do can face significant financial stress as a result. Providing affordable access to excellent pharmacy education in regional Queensland allows us to build workforce in the locations experiencing shortages, and address issues related to barriers to accessing a university education.
“If you are looking for a great career with high levels of professional satisfaction and the ability to earn respectable income, you can do that through pharmacy at JCU.”
Quality learning irrespective of location
A/Prof Smithson said JCU focused on delivering a similar experience across the three sites: “We do this in our program by making sure we retain a local small-group learning focus – a teaching approach that is the same for all students, irrespective of location.”
“While the tutors and lecturers may differ, there is an extraordinary degree of equivalence across the three campuses. So the experience is of high quality, the access is local and more affordable. The other benefit is each site develops their own personality. It tends to reflect the region a little, but it is nice to see the close-knit nature of our students at the different sites.”
A/Prof Smithson said 2022 was an exciting time for Mackay students with the opening of their new compounding lab. “Pharmacists change the form of medicines by way of compounding different products. We might take a tablet containing the desired active ingredient and make it into a liquid or suppository. We teach our graduates to do that in our wet compounding labs,” he said.
“Irrespective of the location, our facilities are world class. All sites undergo the same stringent accreditation process, getting the tick of approval from our accreditation body.
Pharmacy is an in-demand career that can take you anywhere. Read more about Melissa’s ‘Gold Lotto’ job and follow the adventures of 2021 graduate from Western Australia Patrick Wright and Torres Strait pharmacist Caitlin Davies.