Handing over the PATY title

By Alice Vanderpol, 2018 Pharmacy Assistant of the Year

The reign is almost over! What a year it’s been! The Pharmacy Assistant National Conference is just around the corner and this means the time has come to hand over the title of Pharmacy Assistant of the Year 2018 (PATY) to this year’s deserving winner. This marks the end of an incredible year as the 2018 winner of the PATY Award. From the moment I heard my name being announced, I knew it was the beginning of a life-changing year ahead. The reign as PATY winner has exceeded all my expectations and more; not only in my career but also my personal life.

Above all, this year has taught me to be brave. It’s taught me that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. My mantra going through this year was:

“Don’t think what could go wrong; instead, think of what could go right.”

From the beginning when I was nominated, it was a scary, new experience but I thought:

“Why not? I’m not going to lose out on anything if I try and give it a go. If anything, I’ll surely gain something!”

And gain something I did! From increased confidence and belief in who I am, not only as a woman but also as a pharmacy assistant, this year has increased my capacity to grow, learn and further myself in more ways than I could have imagined.

So what have I been up to? This past year has given me the opportunity to tick a few things off my bucket list, starting out with being involved in a podcast! Within a month of winning the Award, I was asked to be involved in the Pharmacy Business and Career Network Podcast. This gave me an insight into what goes into creating a podcast and having the opportunity to be involved in the recording of one.

As part of my Award, I was given the chance every month to write an online blog article for the PA News website, Australian Pharmacy Assistant Facebook page and Retail Pharmacy Assistants eMagazine. These articles ranged from asthma education and pharmacy assistants being on the frontline, to dealing with grieving customers. This stretched and challenged my knowledge (and writing skills, which I totally loved!). I have always enjoyed the process of writing and journaling, and PATY gave me the opportunity to do this on a larger scale. I also loved that I had been given a platform to encourage and educate fellow pharmacy assistants, as well as enlighten others that are not in the industry to what life as a pharmacy assistant is really like.

My eyes were opened even wider when I attended the Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference & Trade Exhibition (APP) in March for the first time ever! I knew the pharmacy world was big, but I didn’t realise just how big it really was! As part of my role, I got to walk around the large trade exhibition and promote the Award. This gave me the chance to talk and connect with pharmaceutical companies, reps, pharmacists and pharmacy owners. This experience strengthened my love for the industry as a whole.

The PATY National Workshop at the Pharmacy Assistant National Conference inspired me and gave me ideas to bring back to my own pharmacy. The idea and implementation of a walking group was birthed out of a group activity conducted in the workshop.  I loved that, and that’s what the whole PATY process is all about; rubbing shoulders with like-minded people, sharing ideas and knowledge, learning new things and then bringing it home to your pharmacy for the benefit of not only your pharmacy, but most importantly the surrounding community. The walking group I initiated and ran in my pharmacy was called, ‘The Village People’ (due to our pharmacy name being Moama Village Pharmacy). This gave our pharmacy the chance to partner up with the Heart Foundation to deliver this service. It provided a space for the community to connect and get healthy!

PATY also opened up a great opportunity to advance my career in the pharmacy industry. Throwing caution to the wind, I moved my family interstate and took a job with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia in Brisbane. Now as a Workplace Trainer and Assessor, I get the opportunity to pour into pharmacy assistants, sharing my skills and knowledge that I have gained. I absolutely love that this is where I get to be and this is what I get to do now! I was once in the shoes of a pharmacy assistant, so I feel very honoured to be able to invest back into training up the next generation of pharmacy assistants.

If you are nominated next year for the PATY Award, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and do it! Even if you are stepping out afraid – do it! I sometimes wonder where I would be now if I didn’t take the leap of faith! This experience has forever changed me and it’s absolutely fantastic that the Guild delivers such an Award; an award that recognises the best of the best and that gives true recognition of the amazing job that we as pharmacy assistants do each and every day.

Have you registered for 2019 Pharmacy Assistant National Conference yet? If not, get onto it – you won’t regret it! I’ll see you there!