Pharmacy and Pharmacists in Austria
In the yearly Reader’s Digest inquiry about how much people trust in different professions, the Austrian Pharmacists are since some time ranged at the second rank, just behind the men of the fire brigades. Obviously, the customers are satisfied with the work of the pharmacists, with their advises and recommendations.
At the end of December 2015, nearly 6.300 pharmacists were member of the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists, 1.460 owner and 4,840 employees (including unemployed, maternity leaves etc.), with a quota of 79,6% women. In the group of the employees this quota was even higher (88,3 %).
Study of Pharmacy
If you want to become a pharmacist in Austria, you can choose between the three state universities (free of charge) Vienna, Graz and Innsbruck to study pharmacy. The curriculum – since 2015 a bachelor / master course – is planned for ten semesters (= 5 years), but most students need more time before they can graduate as “magister of pharmacy”. The private university of Salzburg is planning to start a course of pharmacy in September 2017.
Community or Hospital Pharmacist
To become community or hospital pharmacist, you are obliged to do one year of practice (called “aspirancy year”) in a community or hospital pharmacy after getting your degree at the university. During this year, you learn the practical work in the pharmacies, and have to go to an additional course of 10 – 12 days held by the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists. There are taught the legal framework of the pharmacists’s work and other matters, which are not taught at the university.
At the end of that year, you have to pass an exam at the Chamber under supervision of the Ministry of Health – if you succeed, you get the approbation to be called “Apotheker” (Pharmacist) and may work in a pharmacy without supervision (no difference between community and hospital pharmacist).
For the first five years (full-time, 40h /week) after the exam, pharmacists may lead a pharmacy only temporarily for 6 weeks, when the head of the pharmacy is ill or on holiday.
After these five years, they may apply for the licence (called “Konzession”) of a community pharmacy, either to take over one already existing or to open a new one. In the first case, the pharmacist holding the licence has to hand it over to the new head.
By law, to get the licence for a new pharmacy, the pharmacist has to make sure, that the surrounding pharmacies are at a distance of at least 500m from the new one and that these pharmacies will still have more than 5.500 persons as potential patients. Every pharmacist may only have one licence; every pharmacy has to be led by a pharmacist with a licence. The licensed pharmacist can have partners, but he has to obtain 25% of the shares at the beginning and more than 50% after 10 years.
Pharmacists and Pharmacies in Austria
At the end of 2015, about 5.500 pharmacists (4100 employed and 1450 self-employed) and 250 practicants worked in the 1.340 community and 40 hospital pharmacies in Austria. Most of the pharmacists are women (79,6%), also most of the employed pharmacists work part-time (77%).
By law, every pharmacist working in a pharmacy (and only these) is obliged to be member of the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists (www.apotheker.or.at), which is the representant of all pharmacists, and of the Pharmaceutical Salary Fund (www.gehaltskasse.at), which is the economical and social institute for Austrian pharmacists.
Salary of Employed Pharmacists
Employed pharmacists do not get their whole salary from the pharmacy: a big part of it is paid by the Pharmaceutical Salary Fund. This institution has been founded in 1908 in order to get an instrument to prevent elder pharmacists from being unemployed.
The employer pays a standard amount per pharmacist to the Fund, regardless of the age of the employed pharmacists in his pharmacy; the employed pharmacists get the bigger part of their salaries from the Fund in accordance with their salary level (consisting of 18 levels, with biennial advance).
A smaller part of the salary is paid directly by the employer: by collective wage agreement the employed pharmacists get a “compensatory allowance”, premiums for night work (on-call duty) and for leading the pharmacy temporarily in the absence of the holder of the license.
2015, the gross salary of an employed pharmacist, based on the collective wage agreement, amounted to at least € 3.789,- per month for 40h weekly work; after 34 years of work, when reaching the highest salary level, to at least € 6.087,-