Getting to know South Australia PATY winner Andrew Morgan

Tell us about your PATY experience? 

It’s been a great experience so far. I wasn’t actually aware I had been nominated so it was a really big surprise.

What was the workshop day like?

The workshop was a great day and the presenter did a really good job in getting everyone working together and sharing ideas. It was very valuable to communicate with one another and always good to find those who have a wealth of experience in pharmacy. It was really interesting to get together and share ideas and really get an insight into pharmacy in South Australia. The workshop was very collaborative and a great learning experience for everyone.

Would you encourage others to participate in PATY in the future? Why?

I think it’s really important for everyone to push themselves in pharmacy, and really push your own personal development. Meeting other Pharmacy Assistants and sharing our experiences, as well as the opportunity to share ideas. You can really learn a lot from others, particularly if they have more experience, or even a different experience to yourself. You can never know it all in pharmacy so it’s great to learn from your peers because together we have a wealth of knowledge.

How did you get started in pharmacy?

I actually fell into Pharmacy 18 years ago while I was in the UK. I was working in a supermarket and always wanted to learn more skills and there was an opening in the Pharmacy, so I thought, ‘why not?’ It was really intimidating because there was so much I had to learn. I started in stock control and I really found my niche. I had previous management and till experience, and everything else just fell into place with time.

You’ve been in pharmacy for a while, how has your interest evolved over that time?

My interests are always evolving. I started off in stock control, and it was something I could do, and make myself useful when I first started out in Pharmacy. I then learnt about dispensary and I was an assistant manager for about a year. Shortly after, I moved into pharmacy within a nursing home (one of the largest nursing homes in the country) but I really missed that customer service element.

I started off as dispensary technician in Australia, just learning the ropes and then back into stock control. While I was in Queensland, I was managing two stores, but it really took me away from the shop floor and there just wasn’t that job satisfaction. I really love that customer interaction and now that I’m working in McLaren Vale, I’m back on the floor and looking for new ways to challenge myself.

There is a great demand for complimentary medicine here and we’re really looking to provide that extra level of service in the pharmacy. So now I’m really combining that customer service with my knowledge and interests in pharmacy.

You’ve worked in so many areas, do you have a favourite?

Customer service and dealing with customers is my favourite area of pharmacy. I don’t do this job for the money, as I’m sure many Pharmacy Assistants would agree with me, but when you have regular customers come in and introduce you to their family, you can see you’re really leaving a positive impact on them.

It’s just a really rewarding job, and I find a lot of satisfaction in my work and I have a real passion for making a difference.

What qualifications have you gained and how important is training to you?

I actually have a qualification that is similar to the certificate III in Pharmacy Technician (Dispensary) from the UK, but unfortunately it’s not recognised in Australia, which is a shame.

I put a lot of time and money into going to training and conferences and really build up my product knowledge. I think all of those extra bits go a long way. I’m also completing my Advanced Diploma, in Evidence Based Complimentary Medicine, which is very exciting and it’ll be added to our pharmacy services once I’ve got the qualification.

Can you share a favourite story from your time in pharmacy?

There was an elderly lady who came into the pharmacy regularly and I had established a good relationship with her. She was suffering from a bit of depression and she had told me her doctor had prescribed her anti-depressants. After some time, she had told me she didn’t think it was working, and her depression was actually intensifying.

After a conversation with her, I had suspected she was taking the wrong thing and she was actually experiencing a reaction to the two types of drugs she was taking. I referred this information onto the Pharmacist, who then referred her back to her GP.

She came back in a couple weeks, to thank me for taking the time to talk with her, and clear up what was happening. I believe it’s really important to take the time have a conversation with your customers and understand what they are going through.

What do you do in your spare time?

I study a lot. I work about 36 hours a week and then I do about 15 hours of study on top of that.

But my wife and I love to eat out, being in McLaren Vale, we do a bit of wine tasting as well. We also love to travel, but I’ve been focusing on my studying and training, so we will hopefully get a couple days on the Gold Coast after PA Conference, which we’re looking forward to.

What inspires you?

Happy regular customers inspire me! You always have those days, when customers come in and they just want a product, and then you have those customers who value your knowledge and pay attention to the advice you offer them.

It’s very easy to treat the symptoms but if you don’t get to the root of the cause, the pain or symptoms will persist. That’s what we try to do, identify the cause, rather than treat the symptoms. Just spending that extra time with the customer and help reduce the cause and that’s what makes my day. When someone comes back in and tells you you’ve made a difference, it makes it all worthwhile.