Health Service Categories and Careers


Clinical Pharmacology is the medical specialty which studies the relationship between drugs and humans. It studies basic pharmacology which includes principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and their clinical application. It studies drug research, including laboratory practice, drug development, evaluation of efficacy, safety, quality and cost effectiveness, and ethical aspects. It encompasses principles of rational prescribing, and the quality use of medicines (QUM) – principals which may conflict with other guarantees such as maintaining a viable pharmaceutical industry, safety and efficacy standards, and ‘equity of access’ to medicines. QUM involves the appropriate and safe use of medicines and seeks to improve patient outcomes. Some of the activities undertaken to support QUM include: analysis of statutory and regulatory processes, assessment and minimisation of adverse reactions and interactions, promotion of rational prescribing and education, contribution to drug treatment development and implementation, development of local and national drug lists, monitoring and evaluation of drug usage and therapies, promotion of cost-effective drug use, and involvement in further QUM research. This field of medicine plays an important role maintaining standards of therapeutic drug use by contributing to rational, evidence-based, and cost-effective prescribing. However, there are ongoing challenges in this field, such as incorporating advances in medical technology, integrating new knowledge, responding to changing legislative and funding requirements, reducing drug dependency, maintaining quality control, and managing the impact of pressures from the pharmaceutical industry and governmental groups on the quality of pharmacology practice.

Pharmacology (Clinical) Jobs

Clinical Pharmacologists study the effects of drugs and medicines in humans. They work in the laboratory and in clinical practice. They also work in academia, research, industry, government, and in drug regulation. They create guidelines and develop policies, assess clinical trials, and conduct laboratory research in genetics, biomarkers and metabolism. They consult with medical specialists, emergency medical staff and GPs to help manage patients with medication-related problems or specific medication needs. They evaluate new drug applications and extensions, including their efficacy, safety and quality. They perform complex medication reviews, provide advice on rational prescribing, and provide tailored advice on prescribing for special patient groups - including older people, children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and patients with renal or hepatic disease. They sit on hospital, state and drug regulation committees, teach clinical pharmacology at universities and teaching hospitals, and undertake drug-related research. Clinical Pharmacologists integrate pharmacology practice and knowledge with other disciplines and play an important role liaising between laboratory scientists and clinicians. They are mindful of the influence of bias and market pressures on drug development and access. To pursue a career in Clinical Pharmacology, registered doctors who have completed RACP Basic training in adult Internal Medicine, can undertake Advanced Training in Clinical Pharmacology, a 3-year RACP program which leads to Fellowship and Specialist Registration with AHPRA.

Registrars (Clinical Pharmacology) are registered doctors who have completed their medical degree and pre-vocational training (internship and residency/PGY2-3). They have attained general registration with AHPRA and can now undertake specialist/or vocational training positions to broaden and refine their scope of practice and gain experience, skills and competency in their chosen area of medicine. Registrars are very important members of the integrated and multi-disciplinary health care team. They have increasing responsibility for patient care, oversee and support junior doctors and staff, participate in professional development activities and continue to receive important guidance, training, and support from senior staff. They work in a range of primary, secondary, tertiary, clinical, laboratory and acute care settings, in hospitals, private practices and community clinics. Registrars who want to pursue a career in clinical pharmacology can undertake advanced training with RACP. They work under clinical pharmacologists/specialist consultants and develop procedural skills, clinical expertise, and valuable work experience in their chosen field of medicine.