Pharmacy Board of Australia - Supporting professional practice
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Supporting professional practice

By delivering its functions through regulatory action to protect the public, the Board supports the safe delivery of quality health services by registered pharmacists. Other entities also make important contributions and work collaboratively with the Board to keep the public safe. Here is an overview of the range of contributions.

Ensuring competence to practice - Registration to practice - Ensuring legal, ethical, and professional practice - When practice falls below the expected standard - Sources of information

The Board protects the health and safety of the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered.

Competency standards

The National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia 2016,  sets out the competencies that each individual must meet in order to gain general registration and practise as a pharmacist. The competencies are met by successfully completing a program of study, an internship and the Board’s registration examination.

To maintain general registration to practise, pharmacists must continue to meet the competencies relevant to their scope of practice.

Accreditation an approval of programs of study

The Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) is the accreditation authority for the pharmacy profession. APC develops accreditation standards for pharmacy degree programs for approval by the Board. APC accredits education providers and programs of study that meet the accreditation standards.

Each program of study that meets the accreditation standards is approved by the Board under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) as providing a qualification for the purposes of registration in the pharmacy profession.

Approved programs of study are published on the Board’s website.

Supervised practice and assessment of competence

Graduates of approved programs are required to complete an internship under provisional registration which includes completion of an intern training program.

Intern pharmacists must pass the Board’s registration examination to be eligible for general registration to practise as pharmacists. The written and oral examinations are held towards the end of the internship.

During the internship, intern training program and the registration examinations, interns are required to demonstrate that they meet the competencies set out in the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia, 2016.

When applying for general registration, applicants must provide evidence that they meet the Board’s registration standards.

Pharmacists must be registered with the Board, and meet the requirements set out in the Board's registration standards in order to practise in Australia.

For graduates of pharmacy programs, this includes successful completion of a period of internship and a registration examination as set out in the Board’s registration standards.

Pharmacists must ensure they continue to meet the Board’s registration standards to maintain registration or to return to practice after an absence.

The Board audits pharmacists’ compliance with the registration standards. Ensuring that pharmacists are meeting the mandatory registration standards provides important assurance to the community and the Board.

Pharmacists who take an extended break from practice may be required by the Board to complete further supervised practice and assessment, to provide assurances to the Board and therefore the public, of their competence to practise.

The public has confidence in the pharmacy profession when they receive safe and quality services by pharmacists who practise ethically, legally and professionally.

The required standard of practice is articulated in a range of important documents that collectively inform our expectations and understanding of good practice. These include:

  • Legislation
  • Commonwealth, state and territory legislation sets out the requirements for legal pharmacy practice including:

    • the requirements to become registered to practise as a pharmacist (as outlined in the National Law and the Board’s registration standards)
    • the legal obligations of pharmacists when delivering pharmacy services such as obtaining, possessing, selling and supplying medicines and poisons (available on relevant state and territory websites)
    • the requirements that must be met to establish pharmacy premises such as a community pharmacy or a hospital pharmacy department (available on relevant state and territory websites)
    • other legislation that is not pharmacy-specific such as legislation that applies to places of employment.
  • Codes
  • The are two types of codes that set out how pharmacists are expected to conduct themselves in practice:

  • Practice standards
  • Practice standards are published by professional organisations such as the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia and set out the standard of practice expected by pharmacists’ peers, the public, regulators, stakeholders and government.

  • Guidelines
  • Guidelines support pharmacists by clarifying legal, ethical and professional obligations when they practise such as the guidelines published by:

Access to contemporary reference texts is essential for safe practice. The Board has published a list of reference texts that pharmacists are expected to access during practice, Guideline 1 (List of reference texts for pharmacists).

Employers also provide other resources such as guidelines, procedures and quality standards to support safe practice in the work place.

The following diagram illustrates the broad range of information that supports professional practice:

Competency framework

Competency standards

Attain and maintain competence

National competency standards framework for Pharmacists in Australia, 2016

Legal, ethical and professional practice



National Law

  • Registration standards
  • Guidelines on compliance with National Law requirements

Commonwealth state and territory legislation


Good conduct

Code of ethics / Code of conduct 

  • Codes or ethics (PSA, SHPA)
  • Code of conduct for pharmacists (PharmBA)

Practice standards

Good practice

Professional practice / quality standards 

  • PSA
  • SHPA
  • Others


Good practice

Guidelines for pharmacists / pharmacy practice 

  • Guidelines published by PSA, SHPA
  • Guidelines on practice published by PharmBA

It is the responsibility of the Board and Ahpra to manage concerns about the conduct, performance or health of a registered pharmacist or student and information about how such concerns are managed under the National Law is available on the Ahpra website.

To determine whether the conduct or performance of a registered pharmacist or student is below the expected standard, the Board and Ahpra are informed by relevant sources of information such as those listed above.

Page reviewed 7/03/2022