‘Placement poverty’ affecting future of health sector workforce

6 May 2024


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is pleased to see the Federal Government taking action to relieve cost of living pressure on students undertaking mandatory unpaid placements as part of their studies but warns that students in pharmacy and other allied health professions are being left behind.


Students studying pharmacy and paramedicine are among thousands who will fall outside of today’s announcement, with unpaid clinical placements forcing some to give up their education altogether.


Under accreditation requirements, pharmacy students are required to undertake clinical placements as part of their course of study.


PSA National President Associate Professor Fei Sim said that the government’s recognition of the strain unpaid placements has on students is the first step, but more needs to be done.


“Clinical placements are a valuable part of the learning experience, but they cannot come at the expense of our student’s livelihoods,” A/Prof Sim says.


“Training the next generation of pharmacists, I see first-hand the pressure unpaid placements put on our students. I’ve seen pharmacy students forced to give up paid work, struggle to make ends meet, and worryingly, drop out of their degrees altogether.


“Many placement sites and pharmacist preceptors also do not get any funding to host placement students.


“Pharmacy students and the pharmacy profession require support to continue to meet the growing future health needs of Australians. We need more people to pick pharmacy as their career choice, and that support must start now.


“All students undertaking compulsory unpaid placements, including pharmacy students, deserve access to government support.


“I urge the Federal Government to revisit this policy and offer the same financial support to all health students who are required to undertake clinical placements as part of their studies.”


National Australian Pharmacy Students Association (NAPSA) President Bano Serhan echoed calls for pharmacy students to have access to support.


“The government has acknowledged that placement poverty deeply affects students, and this is no different for our members,” she says.


“Pharmacy students are being left behind in the budget, at a time when they need more support to build a better and more diverse healthcare workforce.”



PSA contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0480 099 798  E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

NAPSA contact: Sebastian Harper    M: 0437 926 889  E: treasurer@napsa.org.au