Bonnie, Pharmacy Student, La Trobe

As pharmacy students, we’re used to placements that are focussed on conventional roles of a pharmacist within a hospital or community pharmacy setting. So, it’s been an exciting opportunity to explore non-traditional career journeys that I would be able to embark on as a future pharmacist.

For the past week I’ve been working with the Australian Pharmacy Council (APC) as part of my non-traditional placement allocation during the final semester of my pharmacy degree at La Trobe University.

As I approach the final weeks of my pharmacy degree, the process of applying for internships and deciding what initial pathway I want to venture down is at the forefront of my mind. The outcome of my internship will decide where I will spend the next 8 months completing full time work and study for the final intern exams – hopefully gaining the necessary clinical experience and therapeutic exposure along the way to pass and register as a practising pharmacist at the end of next year.

It has been easy to get caught up in the stress of intern applications and forget the other dimensions within the pharmacy profession.

Connecting with role models

My time with the APC highlighted the role of a pharmacist extends far beyond the traditional hospital and community pharmacy roles, and that the outcome of my internship will not define the rest of my career as a pharmacist – even though it may seem like it now! I was able to connect with many APC Board members that shared many diverse experiences that led them to where they are now, all working toward the same common goal of public health safety through competency of pharmacists, and effective healthcare.

It was inspiring to meet pharmacists that have a tremendous breadth of experiences, with previous involvement in significant areas of pharmacy and exciting connection in new areas of pharmacy that are just on the horizon. Knowing that they were all once in my position now as a pharmacy student gives me assurance and confidence in my journey.

Exploring the countless opportunities

Through interactions with experienced professionals in the field, I have learned one of the fundamental skills a pharmacist must possess - adaptability! The profession of pharmacy is constantly evolving, and individuals of the profession must be able to recognise and embrace these changes alongside advocation of their capabilities. Speaking with pharmacists who are on the forefront of developing education program standards for expanding scope of practice of pharmacists in prescribing, MMRs, and aged care facilities was inspirational and encouraging as a soon-to-be pharmacist entering the profession.

Having an insight into the development of exams and the rigorous method of assessing questions and response rates gave me great appreciation of the work that goes into assessing competency to keep the knowledge of Australian pharmacists to a high standard.

The opportunity to work alongside many non-pharmacist staff emphasised the importance of collaboration and teamwork within the pharmacy field. I spent time working with the assessment teams and candidate relationship team, who both have important jobs in candidate support as well as assessing and supporting overseas pharmacists that want to practise in Australia. I was able to compare many Indian Bachelor of Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy courses which fostered a deeper appreciation for the diverse pathways to becoming a pharmacist in Australia. Involvement with the comms team highlighted the importance of communication and advocacy within the pharmacy profession, and the behind-the-scenes work that is involved with event management, social media presence and online engagement.

Ready to shape the future of pharmacy

Although my time at the APC was short, I am beyond grateful for the experiences I have been exposed to during my visit. As a passionate pharmacy student, I hope to make contributions and be involved in such impactful and influential changes to the pharmacy profession. The APC provided access to a wide range of insights that will shape my professional journey. I will leave the APC ready to step into pharmacy with inspiration and excitement to accomplish great things in my future and will always look back on the role models I met during this placement. I thank all the amazing people I was fortunate enough to meet at the APC and appreciate the time they took out of their busy days to mentor me and teach me about their role.

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