The number of female pharmacists is rising steadily, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
Pharmacy labour force to 2001 shows the number of women employed as pharmacists increased by 11% between 1996 and 1999, compared with a 3% increase for male pharmacists. Women comprised 47% of all employed pharmacists in 1999, and 70% of hospital pharmacists.
Women also comprised 66% of Australian pharmacy students commencing studies in 2000.
Report co-author Graham Angus said that the overall number of employed pharmacists rose from 13,834 to 14,747 between 1996 and 1999, a 7% increase over 3 years.
This growth in numbers was not matched by corresponding growth in the pharmacy labour force in terms of full-time equivalent pharmacists (or FTEs). FTE growth was only 4% over the period.
'This is because of the growth in the number of women pharmacists, who are more likely to work part-time hours', Mr Angus said.
'This is the case in both community (retail) pharmacies and hospital pharmacies, where female pharmacists worked significantly fewer hours per week on average than male pharmacists'.
Mr Angus said that despite the overall increases in numbers, there is currently a shortage of pharmacists in Australia.
'The ageing of the population, a continuing rise in the number of prescriptions being written per head of population, and the increasing diversity and complexity of medicines requiring advice and counselling on their use, are all contributing to an increase in demand.'
'Although there has been a 57% increase in numbers of new pharmacy students since 1992, we expect the shortages to continue beyond 2010.'