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Of the estimated 200 million migrants that work in countries and cities around the world, a significant number are employed within the healthcare industry. Despite this, many countries are still experiencing a chronic shortage of healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Pharmacists, in particular, are a much sought after profession. The shortage is so severe that in some countries both governments and healthcare facilities are offering attractive packages to try and fill these long-term vacancies. Although these shortages traditionally affected developing countries who found it difficult to keep their graduates at home, the reality today is that both developed and developing countries are equally suffering.
On the other hand, this situation also creates excellent career opportunities for established and experienced pharmacists that are considering a move abroad. With numerous countries and options available, we look at the top five countries for pharmacists to work; they offer the most attractive packages for qualified pharmacists.
1. The United States of America
According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), demand for pharmacists in the United States is set to continue until 2018 and possibly beyond. The ongoing shortfall of pharmacists in America has been caused by the rapid growth of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, an aging population, and increasing numbers of pharmacists that are opting to work part-time. The AACP predicts that by 2020, there will be a shortfall of 157,000 pharmacists throughout the country.
The introduction of the Affordable Care Act will result in a greater number of people requiring healthcare services, including pharmaceutical care. Pharmacists, therefore, are set to play an increasingly important role in the provision of healthcare in America going forward. As pharmacists are a profession in demand, salaries have risen considerably in recent years with annual remuneration now in the region of US$ 116,000 to US$ 140,000.
Although Ireland is still coming to terms with its economic difficulties after years of recession, its shortage of pharmacists has led to a recent recruitment drive. Additional places have been added to university courses, and both public and private employers have begun to advertise vacant positions internationally.
The majority of these vacancies are in the area of hospital pharmacy. These positions are predominantly involved in the research of and supply of medicines, with vacancies available in both private and public health facilities throughout the country. Graduates are encouraged to apply and can earn a basic starting salary of €35,300 (US$ 47,544) per annum. Those with the desired hospital experience can also earn upwards of €59,400 (US$ 80,000) per annum.
Pharmacists are in big demand in New Zealand and the number of those being employed in the sector continues to rise each year, with vacancies being filled both by local graduates and by overseas workers. According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, demand for pharmacists remains strong due to New Zealand’s aging population and the number of current pharmacists that will soon retire.
Appearing on the list of long-term skills shortages, pharmacists are being actively encouraged by the government to move to New Zealand for employment. Vacancies are available throughout the industry, in hospitals, community pharmacies, universities and within the pharmaceutical sector. A pharmacist with between one and five years of experience can command a salary of US$ 57,579 to US$ 65,810 per annum.
There has been an acute shortage of pharmacists in Sweden for a number of years. The main reasons for this are an increase in the number of community pharmacies that opened after the state’s monopoly on the sector was privatized in 2009, the low number of pharmacy students and graduates at Swedish universities, and the large number of pharmacists that have retired.
In an effort to address these shortages, the Swedish government has placed pharmacy skills high on its list of in-demand occupations. Sweden also has one of the most liberal immigration policies, permitting family members to join the individual once they have found secure employment. The vast majority of vacancies are found in the community pharmacy sector. Although starting salaries for experienced pharmacists are in the region of US$ 60,000 per annum, there is a requirement that community pharmacists speak basic or conversational Swedish.
Turning to Asia, one country which has been suffering a chronic shortage of pharmacists in recent times is Singapore. The city-state in south Asia has a below average ratio of pharmacists to the general population, and the government is keen to address this problem. The Singapore Pharmacy Council is working closely with universities to try and increase the number of students taking pharmacy courses. They are also trying to encourage graduates to remain in Singapore following the completion of their degrees.
Although starting salaries for recently graduated pharmacists in Singapore are quite low in comparison to other healthcare professionals — roughly S$4,000 per month (US$ 3,200) — this is usually offset with housing subsidies, health insurance and bonuses. Depending on their individual circumstances, overseas pharmacists may also qualify for relocation allowance. Singapore is an attractive location to work in, as one of the most developed countries in Asia with a first class health and education system, and low crime rates.
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