It is my belief that some students need support to help see their future in pharmacy as a bright one. This interview series asks Early Career Pharmacists to provide realistic feedback about their trials and tribulations and where they ended up succeeding. The pharmacy industry is going through some turbulence at the moment, but with also some promises of future collaborative and innovative roles. With disruption and tenacity, there will be new growth and evolution in pharmacy.
1. Where/when did you graduate?
Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga in 2009
2. What has been your career journey so far?
6 months after registering as a pharmacist, I was given the opportunity to become a Pharmacist Manager at Capital Chemist Wanniassa, and two years later became a Managing Partner at Capital Chemist Wanniassa and partner at Capital Chemist Kambah. Since then, I have become a credentialled diabetes educator, mental health first aid trainer and advocate, volunteer crisis support counsellor, asthma educator, Heart Foundation Health Professional Ambassador, as well as an ambassador for a local charity supporting women experiencing post-natal depression called PANDSI. I also enjoy contributing to the profession more widely and am on committees for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the ACT Clinical Council. In the last year I have also undertaken some consultancy and public speaking work as well. This year I have been honoured to be recognised as the PSA Symbion Early Career Pharmacist of the Year and Telstra Australian Young Business Woman of the Year.
3. What more do you want to achieve in the future?
I want to make sure pharmacists that strive and thrive in my current pharmacies are given the same leadership opportunities I have been given in my career. I am also very passionate about spreading messages nationally about sustainable community pharmacy practice, mental health awareness, pharmacists working to their full professional scope, and professional service implementation. From where I am sitting, community pharmacy has SO much potential and I am I excited about the future. I feel like my career is only just getting started!
4. What advice would you give to students?
Just say 'yes!'. Every time an opportunity comes your way, even if you are a little stretched for time, make time. I made time every time in my career, and it has enriched my career beyond measure. There is the opportunity to learn and grow professionally in ways you cannot even imagine! Mentors are also really important- surround yourself with pharmacists that you aspire to be like, and people that want to invest in making you the best pharmacist you can be! This is critically important in your intern year, so make sure your preceptor is someone that inspires you!
5. What is your favourite thing about pharmacy/your job?
I love the people. My team are amazing and it is so lovely working with amazing humans every day. My community is also incredible, so looking after our patients also motivates me to continue to do the work I do
6. Were you involved with the National Australian Pharmacy Students' Association (NAPSA) and/or your local branch?
Yes, I was on Pharmers, our pharmacy club at CSU for 3 years, and in 2008/2009 was the NAPSA Rural and Indigenous Chair
a. What benefit did this have?
These roles gave me governance skills and many networking opportunities in my career, as well as connecting me with other pharmacy students all across the country
7. Would you ever consider leaving the profession?
No way! I love being a pharmacist. I love the people. I love gift of being able to improve the lives of patients every day. I love the constant opportunities for innovation. I love sharing my passion and positivity for pharmacy with the industry and I love being a business owner!
8. What challenges have you faced?
There have been constant challenges, which I like to re-frame as opportunities. Some challenges have been financial pressures, some have been work-life balance related, others have been related to building the team of my dreams, and some have been around changing the perceived negativity within our profession.
a. How have you overcome them?
Innovation has overcome every challenge that I am presented with. Some of the innovations that spring to mind include changing our pharmacy physically to be a community health hub for our patients, implementing bespoke health services, finding news ways to work smarter with better rostering, building a team which is as passionate about community pharmacy as I am, and taking every opportunity to share what I see as a very optimistic outlook for our profession, whether it be in person or on social media.
9. How has your perception of pharmacy changed since you were a student?
Even when I was a student, I always wanted to be a pharmacy owner, and enjoyed the pattern of dispensing as well as talking to people. As a pharmacist and pharmacy owner now, my perception has changed so much. Sometimes I
even forget dispensing is a part of my job, as important as it is, because I have so many other cool things that take up working life day-to-day. This can range from helping someone experiencing a mental illness, speaking at a conference about our optimistic future, mentoring a colleague, giving advice to a committee or industry body, public speaking, using social media, conducting a session as a diabetes educator, networking- this list just goes on and on. The best part is, none of this feels like work! It just feels like a great way to spend my days, and when I was a student I don't think I could have ever imagined I would love my role this much!
10. Anything else you would like to add?
Be the change you want to see in the world (and/or pharmacy industry!).