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Job Demand, Career & Salary for Pharmacists in Malaysia – Study at a Top Pharmacy School for Better Prospects
Study at the Best University in Malaysia for Pharmacy so that your Career & Salary is Better
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Malaysian universities are producing over 1,300 pharmacy graduates yearly. The recommended ratio by WHO for developed countries is 1:2,000. Our ratio to population is 1:2,837 and 59% of registered pharmacists are in the public sector.
The pharmaceutical industry is a lucrative yet highly competitive field. A healthy and thriving local pharmaceutical industry is vital to maintaining the country’s healthcare structure and in providing affordable medicine to the people. The pharmaceutical industry in Malaysia has been growing steadily for the past decades and is currently experiencing rapid growth. The current market consists of over 100 pharmaceutical companiesThe market is estimated to be worth around RM1.4 billion with almost all of the world’s international pharmaceutical companies represented in the country in addition to the local ones. Currently, the local industry is capable of producing all different types of pharmaceutical dosage forms, including sterile products, small volume injectables such as ampoules and vials, large volume infusions and dry powder for reconstitution in addition to all standard oral formulations.
The growth of the industry during the last decade could be attributed to strong generic medicine production and the import of other patented drugs to meet local demands. Currently, Malaysian generic manufacturers are capable of producing approximately 30% of medicine to meet domestic demand, while the rest of the 70% of pharmaceuticals have to rely on import from other countries. In addition, Malaysian generic products are exported to other countries as well.
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Employment for Pharmacists in Malaysia
The private pharmacy sector employs almost one-third of all pharmacists in the country. In 2013, this figure stood at 3,325 pharmacists, then in 2016 rose to a total of 4,133 Type A License holders, and 3,094 registered community pharmacists managing a retail store in Malaysia.
Although the number of community pharmacists has risen, it still pales in comparison to the total Malaysian population. There is a significant imbalance between the number of pharmacists against the population. In 2013, the ratio was reported as one pharmacist per 2,949 population; and it only improved slightly to one pharmacist per 2,900 population in 2015.
Similarly, the number of pharmacy stores in the country is small in comparison to the growing numbers of the nation’s population. In 2011, the Pharmaceutical Service Division recorded a total of 1,854 operational pharmacies. Of these, most were concentrated in the state of Selangor (427 stores), Penang (219 stores) and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur (216 stores). The state of Terengganu and Perlis reported the least number of pharmacies, only 26 and 13 respectively. The uneven distribution of community pharmacies reflected the lack of regulation on pharmacy zoning.
Unlike certain western countries, there is no regulation to control the location of these stores and it is common to see several competing pharmacies in the same area. Not only will such a practice lead to unhealthy business competition, but these pharmacists also have effectively neglected those who live in less “popular” areas.
Expected increase in number of community pharmacists
However, the number of community pharmacies is expected to rise significantly in the coming years. A recent study showed that the number had increased by 40% in 2014, after just a short three-year span from the 2011 baseline. Additionally, the government had allowed provisionally registered pharmacists to practice in the community setting. It is expected that such policy changes will further stimulate more pharmacists to venture into the private sector.
The 2012 National Survey on the Use of Medicine (NSUM) revealed that almost 40% of Malaysians consume pharmaceutical products, traditional health supplements or beauty products at some point in their lives. From this group, over one quarter suffered from chronic diseases that required long-term medication. The survey also uncovered the spending habit of these consumers. More than 70% of them obtained their medicine supplies from retail pharmacies.
Salary for Pharmacists in Malaysia
Salary is typically the predominant consideration when it comes to choosing a career. It is even more so today, considering the spiking costs of living. Two years ago, a survey from JobStreet showed that pharmacist was among the best-paying jobs in Malaysia. But is it still the case today?
Pharmacists in the Public Sector in Malaysia
In the public sector, PRPs will begin their career as “Pharmacy Officer Grade U41″ or as it’s said in the Malay language, “Pegawai Farmasi Gred U41”, with a monthly basic salary of approximately RM2,500 (NOT including allowances).
They will retain at grade U41 after completing their PRP training successfully, but will enjoy an annual salary increment. From there on, their career progression will be relatively linear with a time-based promotion within the public sector.
The majority of pharmacists will achieve the grade of U52 within approximately 11 years of continuous service in the public sector, from which they will receive a monthly basic salary of approximately RM5,000 – RM6,400. On top of the basic salary, a U52 Pharmacy Officer is entitled to other allowances amounting to around RM 2,000 per month. Further progression in grade (i.e. promotion onto grade U54 or further) depends on the availability of the position and other considerations (3).
Pharmacists in the Private Sector in Malaysia
For graduates who choose to venture into the private sector, they can expect a more variable salary from one company to another. Till date, there is no standardized salary scheme across the profession in the private sector.
Anecdotal reports from existing PRPs showed that one can safely expect a minimum salary of approximately RM 2,600. Certain companies provide a slightly higher payment at RM 3,000 per month, but this is not common.
The biggest difference between pharmacists in the public sector and private sector is the career progression after qualification as FRP. In the private sector, there are many options, and advancement does not necessarily follow a linear order. One can choose to climb the corporate ladder, or attempt to build his/her own business. For example, a successful retail pharmacy owner may earn a 5-figure income per month.
Pharmacists in Malaysia
The pharmacy job market is now at risk of oversupply. This is apparent when the salary of provisionally registered pharmacists plummeted approximately 25% in just a few short years. This article intends to explore and provide an overview on pharmacist salaries in Malaysia, and how it increases as experience and knowledge grow. It is important to understand that the figures provided are an estimation and should only be used as a reference.
1. Provisionally Registered Pharmacists
Firstly, provisionally registered pharmacists (PRP) are – not surprisingly – among the lowest paid group in the profession. Currently, a PRP can assume to fetch a monthly salary ranging from RM2,500 to RM2,800. Although many PRPs may feel frustrated over the lower salary compared to the previous record of RM3,500, the current amount still matches the average salary for Malaysian employees.
2. Fully Registered Pharmacists
Once the trainee completes the one-year training and qualifies as a Fully Registered Pharmacist (FRP), he or she can then look forward to receiving a slightly increased income. The amount may vary but it generally fluctuates at around RM3,500. Of course, the increase in salary is accompanied by more responsibility and workload as well. An FRP is considered a full-fledged healthcare professional, and will be depended upon to provide good quality services. Most importantly, FRPs will be wholly accountable for their actions and decisions where many of which have a direct impact on patient health. Any act of negligence will not be tolerated.
3. Senior Pharmacists
With 5 years of on-the-job experience, one can qualify as a senior pharmacist. Although there is no definite distinction that separates a junior pharmacist with his/her senior counterpart, a good pharmacist generally needs to spend a reasonably long time to acquire specialized knowledge in his/her chosen field to qualify as a senior pharmacist. This expertise comes with a generous salary of more than RM5,000 a month. In many retail pharmacies, a senior pharmacist, who also acts as the store manager, can easily earn up to RM6,000 or more. Most of these pharmacists will then take on managerial responsibilities to lead their own team in running daily businesses. This is common across both the private and public sector. Senior pharmacists may also need to consider expanding their knowledge beyond pharmacy into management or other related fields.
4. Pharmacy Heads
At the highest hierarchy, a pharmacist can become head of the pharmacy department or other similar top level manager. The salary in comparison is also the highest. A public sector pharmacist with ten years of experience can earn up to RM8,000 or more, depending on the years of service (3). In the private sector where salary schemes are less rigid, the amount will very much depend on the specialized skills possessed by the pharmacist. It is not uncommon for pharmacists with PhD qualifications to fetch five-figure salaries in the pharmaceutical industry. The sweet fruit of success always comes after hard work. However, it is important to realize the workload is always proportional to the amount written on the pay cheque. The higher the salary, the heavier the burden becomes. Not all pharmacists would like to carry such responsibilities throughout their career. It is a very personal choice, one which is worth putting some serious thought into.
For those working in the public sector, it is unfortunate that there is no pharmacist specialization program at the moment. In other words, public sector pharmacists cannot progress to become certified pharmacist specialist like their medical counterparts. Although a pharmacist can still choose to undertake overseas qualification, this achievement typically will not be reflected in the rigid salary scheme.
Nonetheless, there are many useful knowledge and skills that a pharmacist can capitalize upon to boost their incomes. For those who work in community pharmacies, it is common to be offered a profit-sharing scheme or sales commissions. Almost all retail pharmacies in Malaysia sell various health supplements and herbal medicines. Good knowledge in this niche area will be very rewarding financially. It is also possible for Malaysian pharmacists to opt for locum work, but this option is only available for eligible pharmacists (with appropriate years of experience) who obtained a license to practice as the locum.
Best Pharmacy Degree Programmes at Top Private Universities that’s Accredited by Malaysian Pharmacy Board
The 4-year Pharmacy degree programme at Malaysian private universities equips students with scientific, clinical and professional knowledge as well as strong communication skills, giving them the ability to positively impact the healthcare system. The degrees should be accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and Malaysian Pharmacy Board.
Pharmacy is about using medications safely and effectively. After a patient visits their doctor and receives a prescription for medicine or another approved remedy, pharmacists are tasked with filling those prescriptions. Although it may seem like a straight-forward exchange, pharmacists must use their extensive knowledge of drug dosage, regulation, allergens and chemical reactions for each and every individual who comes to them with a prescription. A Pharmacist is a professional who manages this process. While Doctors diagnose the disease or illness, it is the Pharmacist who are experts in drugs and medications. Their service is very important to both patients and the health care community.
Top Universities offering the Pharmacy Degree in Malaysia
EduSpiral explained the courses in detail and took us around the campus to view the Pharmacy facilities to help me make a good decision about my future career. Ka Jun, Pharmacy at UCSI University
Pharmacy is the study of medicine, looking at how drugs are created, their chemistry and interactions, and everything else a qualified pharmacist is required to know. For students who are interested in medicine but for whom becoming a doctor does not appeal for whatever reason, Pharmacy can be an excellent alternative.Furthermore, the job also has the advantage of more regular hours than many alternative healthcare careers, which may be a source of appeal for those who want to contribute to helping people medically but who also want a more structured lifestyle than medicine or nursing can offer.To become a Pharmacist in Malaysia, one needs to study the 4-year Pharmacy degree that’s accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) as well as the Malaysian Pharmacy Board. Then, graduates will be required to pass the registration exam before registering as a pharmacist.
What kind of things can I expect to study?
EduSpiral provided us with in-depth information about UCSI University and also took us around for a campus tour and helped us to make a good decision about our future. En Qi, Pharmacy Graduate from UCSI University
Pharmacy students will gain knowledge across areas like biology and chemistry.
The start of a Pharmacy degree, which is usually four years, leading to a BPharm degree, is focused on giving students a solid foundation in the fundamentals of pharmaceutical sciences, covering medicine, chemistry, biology, ethics and training in professionalism. As Pharmacy is a patient-facing profession, you will start to model patient scenarios early on.
In later years, the focus of the degree shifts from its theoretical foundations to practical, patient-orientated study, including looking at specific diseases and medicines. You will look closely at good practice in real-life Pharmacy situations to develop your professional skills and maximise patient benefit. You will address the law and ethics of Pharmacy, and you may look at Pharmacy from a business perspective. You will spend a lot of time on placements of different kinds. You may also have the opportunity to carry out a research project of your own.
The assessment methods include various assignments, practical & visitation reports, oral presentations, research project viva, patient counselling, tutorials, problem based sessions and finally the examinations.
Sample of Pharmacy subjects
Simulated Community Pharmacy Lab at UCSI University
It is important to note that the subjects offered at the universities would vary and students should look through the brochures and talk to the lecturers. Some universities may be focussed on practical while others on research. Ask about the focus and goals of the pharmacy programme and then decide whether they fit your career goals.
Renal & Gastrointestinal System Pharmacotherapeutics
Pharmaceutical Biotechnology & Immunology
What are the entry requirements for a Pharmacy degree?
Pharmacy facilities at Taylor’s University
Generally, in the actual A-Level or STPM results, a Minimum of 3 principals ‘B’ in Chemistry, Maths, and Biology or Physics. In addition, academically qualified candidates will be required to attend an interview for admission and a Chemistry quiz. Top universities would require higher entry requirements.
The outcome of the interview will determine a candidate’s successful admission into the programme. Furthermore, students must have a Minimum of 5B’s in Maths, Additional Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics in their SPM or O-Levels as well.
Graduates will acquire extensive knowledge of medicines, including their design, manufacture and effects, as well as knowing how to operate pharmaceutical instrumentation. Moreover, you will develop very strong professional skills such as interacting with patients and effective communication.
Pharmacy graduates will also acquire highly transferable skills such as a high level of organisation and ability to work carefully, accurately and methodically. You will also gain problem-solving skills. The research project that you are likely to carry out in your final year will equip you with the ability to carry out independent research and present your findings.
Compulsory Training for Pharmacy in Malaysia Shortened to 1 year
Furthermore, Pharmacy graduates can now go through their training outside of government hospitals and facilities. This was announced recently by the Health Ministry to help increase the pharmacist-people ratio for the next three years.Pharmacy graduates can undergo their Provisionally Registered Pharmacists (PRP) training at private pharmacy facilities, such as private hospitals, R&D industries and community pharmacies that are accredited by the Malaysian Pharmacy Board. In September 2011, PRP was shortened from a three-year period to only one year.
Qualifying Examination to Practice Pharmacy
The Pharmacy Board of Malaysia (PBM) has set the requirement to pass in the Qualifying Examination as a pre requisite for registration.The following groups of applicants are eligible and required to pass this examination before they can be registered as a pharmacist in Malaysia:
Provisionally Registered Pharmacists (PRP) who are undergoing provisional training in Malaysia or
Malaysian applicants with pharmacy degree recognized by the PBM and have been registered in a foreign country and intend to get registered in Malaysia.
Foreign registered pharmacists with pharmacy degree recognized by the PBM and intend to apply for Temporary Registration in Malaysia.
Third year (3rd year), fourth year (4thyear) and graduated pharmacy students (who are awaiting for PRP posting) from a recognized pharmacy program.
100 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) in open book format.
All questions shall be answered within 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Each question has four (4) options with a single correct response only.
The passing mark is 50%.
This exam contains negative marking. Right answer carries one mark and 0.25 negative mark for each wrong answer will be deducted. No marks will be deducted for questions not attempted.
Candidates are allowed to refer to the relevant acts/regulations, Code of Conduct for Pharmacista and Bodies Corporate, references regarding Malaysian National Medicines Policy and Good Governance for Medicine.
What careers are possible with a Pharmacy degree?
Most Pharmacy graduates are employed as pharmacists. These divide into two main groups: hospital pharmacists and community or retail pharmacists. Graduates may find work in research as well.