Does science, medicine, drug therapies and pharmaceuticals fascinate you? If yes, a career as a Pharmacologist could be ideal for you.
Pharmacologists research chemical compounds and substances to develop new medications, treatments, and therapies. They also analyse the impact of harmful chemicals on the body, such as the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
To become a pharmacologist in Australia, you must complete a bachelor's degree in biomedical, medical, or pharmaceutical science. Obtain a fellowship with The Royal Australasian College of Physicians to become accredited and work as a registered pharmacologist.
In this blog, you learn how to become a pharmacologist in Australia, what they do, the skills they need, and what courses they study to pursue this career.
1. What Is Pharmacology?
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine that studies the impact of drugs on biological systems and the body's response to the drug.
It is a science concerned with drug use, impact, and mechanism. The field encompasses the drug's sources, biological effects, chemical properties, and healing applications.
2. What Are Pharmacologists?
Pharmacologists are medical scientists and researchers specialising in studying, developing, and testing medications and chemical compounds.
They work with researchers and medical experts to learn the effectiveness of medications and their interaction with other medicines to develop the best drug therapies for illnesses.
3. What Does A Pharmacologist Do?
Pharmacologists may perform the following tasks and duties:
Study to determine the impact of chemical compounds on the body
Perform research to standardise doses of a drug
Study or develop new medications to treat a specific condition
Run tests and diagnostics
Examine the interactions between different types of medications
Prepare research grants
Analyse data obtained from studies and clinical trials
Set up and conduct controlled experiments
Test drugs on human cells in labs and via experimental trials
Use complex measuring systems and equipment to gather, analyse and interpret data.
Assess the quality of medicine production
Maintain lab equipment
Perform academic research
Share the research findings by publishing papers and attending conferences.
Prepare scientific reports and make suggestions based on experiments and research findings.
Use the research conclusions to develop manufacturing processes and new products.
Understand the undesired or harmful impacts of drugs
Communicate with national and overseas regulatory authorities
Identify errors in medication charts available in hospitals.
Prepare and distribute medications.
Oversee a team of technicians, including pharmacy students or interns, who are involved in the different stages of a research trial
Explain to patients about the working of medications and the right way to consume them
Visit homes or patients' to review medication.
Promote health awareness
Change the chemical composition of a substance to nullify harmful side effects.
Study substances that impact living organisms, such as poisons, insecticides, and pollutants
Provide clinical advice to politicians, managers, healthcare workers, primary producers, and the public
4. Required Skills For Pharmacologists
Pharmacologists need extensive technical skills to work in sensitive situations, perform research and apply science.
They also need soft skills to work well with others and carry out tasks efficiently.
Here are the most relevant skills to pursue a career in pharmacology:
Knowledge of biology and chemistry
Knowledge of lab procedures
A strong background in maths, science, and statistics
Capable of operating medical equipment and machinery for research works
Computer literacy skills
Able to think analytically and logically
Able to conduct accurate and detailed work
An aptitude for research
Good communication skills
Excellent oral and written communication skills
Able to solve issues
An inquisitive nature
Able to gather, analyse, and understand large amounts of medical data
Attention to detail
5. Required Qualifications To Become A Pharmacologist In Australia
Gain your HSC/ACT Year 12 Certificate of Education in one or more subjects such as English, biology, human biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and Earth and environmental science
Complete an undergraduate pharmacologist degree in biomedical science, pharmaceutical science, medical science, or science majoring in pharmacology
Though optional, applicants can also complete a 2-year full-time postgraduate degree - Master of Pharmacy or Master of Clinical Pharmacy.
Undertake the Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Training Program to become a fellow of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians and obtain accreditation to practice as a Clinical Pharmacologist in Australia
6. Steps To Become A Pharmacologist In Australia?
Here is a stepwise guide to help you get started in an entry role as a pharmacologist:
Step 1: Complete A Bachelor Degree
Your professional journey begins with completing a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical science, biomedical science, medical science, or a Bachelor of Science majoring in pharmacology.
The degree provides an excellent foundation in pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, and medical research. It prepares students for a career in pharmacology, drug research, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical.
However, to be accepted in such a course, you must complete your secondary school education in English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics.
As the prerequisites for a degree course may vary from one university to another, it is best to check the university websites to gain clarity.
Step 2: Become A Fellow Of the RACP
Graduates with an undergraduate degree are eligible to apply for a fellowship with The Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to become accredited. It is a mandatory requirement to start practising as a pharmacologist in Australia.
To become a fellow of RACP, you must complete their Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Training Program. Once completed, you become a member of their organisations and get access to a broader learning resource throughout your pharmacology career.
Step 3: Complete A Post Graduate Degree
A two-year master's degree, such as a Master of Pharmacy or Master of Clinical Pharmacy, is a must if you want to specialise in your area of interest in Pharmacology.
The available options for specialisation include the following:
6. Pharmacology Degrees In Australia
Bachelor of Science (Pharmacology) – The University of Melbourne
Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) (Pharmacology) – University of Western Australia
Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Pharmacology) – University of Western Australia
Bachelor Of Pharmacology And Toxicology – Griffith University
Bachelor of Science (Pharmacology) – The University of Sydney
Master of Pharmacy – The University of Sydney
Master of Pharmacy – The University of Western Australia
Master of Pharmacy - UTS
Master of Pharmacy- Griffith University
Master of Clinical Pharmacy – The University of South Australia
Master of Clinical Pharmacy – Monash University
Master of Clinical Pharmacy - UTAS
Master of Clinical Pharmacy – The University of Queensland
7. Pharmacologist Vs Pharmacist
Pharmacists and pharmacologists might sound similar but distinct in their daily work.
Let's discover more about these professions and what makes them different.
It is the science of the preparation and synthesis of medicines and their precise compounding and dispensing to provide therapeutic effects to eliminate adverse effects of a disease.
It is a vast domain that comprises "pharmacology" as one of its subfields. The other ones include:
A Pharmacist is responsible for a variety of tasks that covers each aspect of medicine, such as:
Origin, design, stability, formulation, manufacturing process, transportation, packaging, techniques and equipment, sterilisation, and storage conditions of drug
Resolution of errors in the drug manufacturing process
The technology used in the delivery of medicines
It is a branch of medicine involved in the drug's effects, mechanism of action, uses, and side effects. It is not as broad as a pharmacy but requires more professional skills and work experience. It deals with drugs and their impact on the body.
Being a Pharmacologist is a responsible role, as any slight mistake can be life-threatening to a patient. Due to this, professionals need to have in-depth information about medicinal drugs. Some of the areas of their focus are:
Research and test new medications
Evaluate pharmacologist studies
Identify the right drug to cure a specific disease.
Determine the appropriate combination of drugs
Determine the correct dosage of the drug
Prepare the correct prescription based on the patient's medical history.
Understand the chemical interaction of a drug with other drugs, probable side effects, and contradictions of the use of the drug
Consult with specialists and physicians
Besides work duties, both professionals also differ based on the settings where they are employed. As pharmacologists focus more on the science of medicine, they majorly work in the:
On the other hand, Pharmacists focus on the manufacture, analysis, and formulation of the drugs, to ensure the drug quality and stability. They work in:
Pharma Engineering companies
Quality Control And Quality Assurance Departments in Pharma companies
Management department in the Pharma industry
8. How To Become A Clinical Pharmacologist?
You will need a formal education to become a Clinical Pharmacologist in Australia. Consider completing a 4-year full-time Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) / Bachelor of Pharmacy and Management (Honours) at a recognised university.
Complete the Clinical Pharmacology Advanced Training Program to become a fellow of the Australasian College of Physicians and become accredited to practising pharmacology.
You can further improve your job prospects by completing a Master of Pharmacy Practice and gaining work experience as Research Assistant. Your previous career experience as Associate Scientist or Doctoral Fellow can be beneficial.
9. What Is Advanced Training In Clinical Pharmacology?
Before working as a Clinical Pharmacologist in Australia, you need to become accredited. For this, you must complete the Advanced Training in Clinical Pharmacology and become a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
The programs offer supervised specialised training in the relationship between humans and drugs. This in-depth training involves developing skills through work-based learning and using assessment tools.
After completing the three years of full-time training, you are ready to work as a consultant and run your independent practice.
Completed RACP Basic Training, including Clinical and Written Examinations
Hold a valid and current medical registration
Have been appointed to a suitable Advanced Training position
By becoming a Fellow in active practice in Australia, you must fulfil the yearly CPD requirements to keep your accreditation active.
10. Working Conditions For Pharmacologists
Pharmacists spend most of their time in a lab environment for standard business hours.
They may require working longer hours when involved in clinical trials or experiments. Those employed in a university or a research institute often work additional hours regularly.
Pharmacologists may occasionally require travelling to conduct fieldwork or attend conferences or scientific meetings. They work closely with suppliers and pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry.
While working in a laboratory, they mostly wear protective clothing to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals.
11. Where Does A Pharmacologist Work In Australia?
Registered Pharmacologists can find work opportunities across several industries that, include:
The pharmaceutical industry in drug development, clinical trials, or regulatory affairs
Scientific research lab or crime lab
Industrial/Commercial Pharmaceutical manufacturing firms
Academic institutions to research, teach or publish books
Drug safety officer or poisons specialist
Pharmaceutical companies and other health services
Some Pharmacologists work as consultants, researchers, or regulatory affairs associates for government and non-government organisations.
The Most Common Pharmacology Jobs In Australia Are:
Clinical Research Associate
Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
Medical Science Liaison
Medical Science Liaison - Haematology
Clinical Trials Monitor
Laboratory Support Technician
Clinical Scientist, Biochemistry
Clinical Scientist, Immunology
Research and Development Scientist
Research Scientist (Medical)
12. Areas of Specialisation
Based on their interests, experienced Pharmacologists can consider specialising in the following areas:
13. How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Pharmacologist?
You can become a pharmacologist by completing a three-year full-time bachelor's degree. Next, register with FRACP and complete the training program to get accredited.
However, many pharmacologists also earn a two-year postgraduate degree to gain specialised skills and improve their job prospects. Thus, becoming an accredited pharmacologist in Australia can take 3 to 5 years.
14. How Much Do Pharmacologists Earn In Australia?
Due to their advanced education and skills, pharmacologists earn a generous salary. The average pharmacologist's salary in Australia is AU$90,000.
A pharmacologist's salary varies based on various parameters, such as:
Level of education and experience
Area of specialty
The demand for their skills
Pharmacologists with a postgraduate degree earn more than those with a bachelor's qualification. The salary of an intern or junior-level employee can be low but increases with experience and expertise.
Highest paying cities for pharmacologists:
Melbourne, Victoria: AU$98,264
Average pharmacologist salary in Sydney, New South Wales: AU$80,000
15. Career Outlook For Pharmacologists
Progressions in medical technology and the growing importance of medications to treat physical and mental problems create stable job growth in the industry.
Furthermore, a growing elderly population increases pharmaceutical dependency, enabling more spending on medicine and rising demand for pharmacologists.
The Australian government predicts robust employment growth for pharmacologists. There is an increased demand for pharmacologists.
The employment of pharmacologists is estimated to grow about as quickly as the average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028. Those who wish to pursue a career in pharmacology will find plenty of opportunities for advancement.
Factors that will dictate the overall demand for pharmacologists in Australia are requirements for medicine, government funding for research, and the market for pharmaceutical products.
16. Alternate Career Options For Pharmacologists
A pharmacologist with relevant job skills and experience can work in similar areas in this field. Some of these include:
Outside the laboratory, a pharmacologist can look for job opportunities in communications, marketing, sales, patent law, teaching, or consulting.
Pharmacologists play a vital contribution to the healthcare system.
It can be an exciting and rewarding career option for those who wish for a meaningful career with continuing growth potential.
Whether you choose to work in a hospital, pharmacy, or a government agency or contribute to academia and research, you are likely to earn a good living doing something you enjoy.
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