Review Article

Strategies to increase the pharmacist workforce in rural and remote Australia: a scoping review


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Kehinde O Obamiro1
PhD, Lecturer *

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Wubshet Hailu Tesfaye2
PhD, Researcher

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Tony Barnett3
PhD, Director


1, 3 Centre for Rural Health, School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

2 University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Present address: University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

ACCEPTED: 19 September 2020

early abstract:

Introduction: Despite reports suggesting an oversupply of pharmacists, there is currently an inadequate supply in rural and remote Australia. This can lead to a reduction in pharmaceutical services for an already vulnerable population.
Objective: To identify strategies for increasing the pharmacist workforce, and factors associated with retention in rural and remote Australia
Methods: Database searches of Ovid Medline (Medline and Embase), CINAHL and Scopus were conducted. Full-text of relevant studies conducted in Australia, reported in English and published between the year 2000 and 2019 were retrieved. The record titles were independently screened by two investigators, after which, abstracts of disputed articles were collected for further evaluation. Where agreement could not be reached, a third independent investigator screened the residual articles for inclusion or exclusion.
Results: Overall, 13 articles which focused on the pharmacy profession were retrieved. Strategies that have been employed to increase the rural and remote pharmacist workforce include the establishment of  pharmacy schools in rural areas, inclusion of rural content in undergraduate pharmacy curriculum, enrolment of students from rural background, rural placement and employment of sessional pharmacists. Factors associated with retention were either personal, workplace or community factors.
Conclusion: There is limited research focusing on the recruitment and retention of pharmacists in rural and remote Australia. Given that pharmacies in rural and remote areas are very accessible and often function as a one-stop health hub, additional personal, workplace and community support should be provided for rural pharmacists and pharmacy students undergoing placements in rural and remote communities.