Leading local Victorian pharmacists honoured

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

The three Victorian pharmacists honoured at last night’s Victorian Pharmacists Dinner represent not only the breadth of opportunities and experiences offered by a career in pharmacy, but the difference dedicated members of the profession make every day to health care in our community.

At last night’s ceremony, Roslyn Stewart from Broadford was awarded the Victorian Pharmacist Medal; Brighton’s Kay Dunkley received the Victorian Excellence Award, and Dr Amanda Cross of Albanvale was named Early Career Pharmacist of the Year.

Each of the award recipients have dedicated their careers to caring for those in the community most in need.

“Between them, Roslyn, Kay and Amanda have achieved excellence in areas of practice ranging from research and tertiary care to community pharmacy and aged care,” Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Victorian President, Ben Marchant said.

“During the more than 20 years Kay has committed to caring for patients, she has also been a leader in ensuring the health and wellbeing of her peers.

“While Amanda is still in the early years of her career as a pharmacist, she has already had a significant impact on medicine safety in Victoria, particularly in terms of protecting older people with cognitive impairment from medicine errors.”

“During Roslyn’s working life, she has helped advance the optimisation and standardisation of treatment regimens and been committed to improving mental health care.”

Victorian Excellence Award winner, Kay Dunkley has had a long-term involvement with the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS). She explains that: “PSS is about caring for each other within the pharmacy profession to ensure that as a profession we can care for the Australian community. I really value the generosity of the PSS volunteers in giving their time and energy to be there for their colleagues in times of stress.”

A highlight of Kay’s work has been “being able to make a difference to the lives of those we care for as pharmacists.”

In terms of being honoured for her contribution to health care in Victoria, Kay is quick to remember those who have been there for her. “I attribute this recognition to the various people who have influenced me throughout my career. It is always wonderful when someone you respect encourages and supports you.”

Reflecting on the path that brought her to pharmacy, Victorian Pharmacist Medal recipient, Roslyn Stewart goes back to her school holidays on her grandparents’ farm. “Each week we would take a trip into town and would always visit their friend, the local pharmacist at his shop. Over the years it became apparent to me what an important contribution he made to the wellbeing of the local community.”

For Roslyn, a career as a pharmacist has offered a diversity of options. “I have taken advantage of this, working in research, hospital and community pharmacy and have been conducting medication reviews in aged care facilities and in the community for over 20 years. I have enjoyed each new challenge. Few careers provide this type of flexibility.”

Volunteering is in Roslyn’s blood and being a Mental Health First Aid Instructor is just one way she gives back to the community. “People are not generally well informed about mental health issues in the rural areas and there are few services available to get help. Being trained as a MHFA has improved my listening skills and ability to counsel people experiencing mental health issues.

“Being recognised with this award has made to realise that through my work as a pharmacist I have made a difference and this gives me enormous satisfaction.”

Dr Amanda Cross, the inaugural Victorian Early Career Pharmacist of the Year, loves being a pharmacist, particularly being able to advance the profession and help people. Her focus on medication safety stems from her work as a community pharmacist and home medication review pharmacist.

“I would frequently see patients struggling with medicine adherence and commonly using inappropriate medicines. While I was able to help individual patients, I chose to do a PhD to try to make a difference on a larger scale.

“Medicine safety is important to me because as a pharmacist it is my responsibility to ensure people are taking the right medicines, at the right dose for the right duration to ensure the medicine is creating more benefit than harm.

If Amanda could give one message to other early career pharmacists it would be: “stand up and fight for the change you want to see in the world around you. If you want to improve the health of your patients, make a change in your community or expand the scope of pharmacy practice – find a way, even if it means following a non-traditional path.

Mr Marchant praised, “All three award winners do themselves and their profession proud and are exceptionally worthy recipients.”

Interviews with award winners can be arranged and additional photos will be available on Friday morning 22 September.

Profiles and low-res photos of award winners attached. High-resolution photos are available on request.

/Public Release.