Introducing the Western Australia PATY State Winner

Catherine Brandis from Bunbury Drive-In Chemist in Western Australia has been chosen as the Western Australia State Winner of the 2019 Pharmacy Guild of Australia / Maxigesic Pharmacy Assistant of the Year Award (PATY).

Catherine will now represent Western Australia during the National Finals, to be held at the Pharmacy Assistant National Conference (PA2019) in October later this year.

We sat down with Catherine to find out more about her PATY journey so far.

How does it feel to be the State Winner? What was your reaction?

It feels amazing and surreal! I was definitely not expecting it so it does feel fantastic. I’m really proud of myself and my whole team here at the pharmacy were absolutely chuffed. It’s been great!

Can you give me a brief overview of your career in pharmacy?

I’ve been in pharmacy for nine years now. This is the only pharmacy I have ever been a part of. I actually started just as a casual and night worker while I was doing full-time study in a Diploma. From this experience working and studying, I found myself a lot more invested in pharmacy than I expected. From that, I was offered a two year traineeship, which I completed. I was then promoted to second-in-charge and then I was promoted to the Retail Manager! It was definitely not the field I expected to stay in – I was hoping to actually do Tourism and Event Management and potentially move to Perth, and go further in marketing! But I just love pharmacy! I was so glad it went in this direction as it’s been really great and I’ve really enjoyed all my nine years here so far. I’ve loved every bit of it.

What qualifications do you have and who did you complete your training with?

I have completed my S2/S3 training with the Guild.

What was the PATY workshop day like?

I was so nervous to begin with but as the day went on, I just had an absolute ball. It was so much fun. Meeting all the other State Finalists was really fantastic. I felt a little bit intimidated as they’ve been in so many different pharmacies and some have been in pharmacy for 15 to 20 years, but it was just lots of fun. The thing I enjoyed the most was the group activities and being able to share ideas. I also liked putting together an idea and presenting it to everyone as well. That’s actually the part I thought I’d least enjoy but it wasn’t. 

What have you gained from PATY so far? What are you most looking forward to?

PATY has taught me to just be myself and it has actually put me in the right direction. The one thing my husband said to me before the State Workshop day was, “Just be yourself – you’ll be fine”.  My line manager also said, “You know you can’t be anyone else – there’s no point pretending you’re someone else. Just be you and if that’s enough, great. If not, oh well, we still love you.” I learnt to just be myself and enjoy the experience for what it is, and took away as much as I could from the experience. The judges were fantastic as well – they were such lovely people and Katy presenting was really lots of fun. I really enjoyed listening to everything she had to say and all the research they presented. I kind of treated the judges as lecturers almost or teachers. I really enjoyed it all.

I’ve never been to Brisbane so I’m definitely looking forward to going there for the Pharmacy Assistant National Conference (PA2019). I went to the Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference & Trade Exhibition (APP) last year on the Gold Coast and that absolutely blew my mind. I think the days after that I was still in shock of how amazing it was – all of the people and the industry is just humongous. It was so great to see. I feel like PA2019 is going to have something similar to that and will be a great experience. I just want to take the most I can from it, learn as much as I can, get to know other people and, talk to them about their pharmacies and how their procedures are different. I guess get a better concept of how pharmacies and procedures on the ‘east’ compares to things in the ‘west’.  I’m looking forward to meeting the 2018 PATY Winner Alice Vanderpol too – I think she’s incredible. I’ve been reading all her blog articles, listening to her podcasts and soaking up everything she’s got to say. 

Why would you encourage someone to nominate a person for PATY?

To nominate someone for PATY is challenging them and making them think outside of their box. It’s making them grow and develop. I would never have done that and I wouldn’t have got to where I am if someone hadn’t done that for me. So that’s why I would encourage people to do that for someone else, so they have the opportunity to grow and develop as well. Pharmacy assistants are not losing anything by getting involved in PATY – it’s more of a win-win situation to go and meet like-minded people and have a bit of fun. There’s absolutely nothing to lose but everything to gain. I encourage everyone in pharmacy to nominate yourself or someone else for PATY. It’s great for pharmacy assistants to just to go on a new experience, develop, go out of their own comfort zone and start growing.

Why would you encourage a pharmacy assistant to nominate themselves or participate in PATY?

If you believe in yourself, know that you’re a good pharmacy assistant and have something to offer, then go for it! Pharmacy is a very hectic career and you may feel like you don’t have time to participate in an award like this. But I am so happy that someone encouraged me to be a part of PATY. I’ve gained a lot. If you want to see what else pharmacy has to offer, or how you can push yourself in your career, you should nominate yourself, go forward and give it a go!

Will Catherine be the 2019 PATY Winner? Find out at PA2019 and learn from all the State Winners at the conference. Register now at