The PATY Award…What’s the big deal?

By Alice Vanderpol, 2018 Pharmacy Assistant of the Year


Seriously, what’s the Pharmacy Assistant of the Year (PATY) Award about anyway?! I mean, I only heard about it when I received the phone call to say I had been nominated! My response at the time:

“What exactly is this Award and is this a big deal?!”

Heck yes it is a big deal! PATY is the most prestigious award for Australian pharmacy assistants, recognising and celebrating the ‘best of the best’ in community pharmacy. This premier award recognises the important contribution pharmacy assistants make to the pharmacy industry.

Every year the Guild searches high and low, Australia wide to find the most passionate, skilled and knowledgeable pharmacy assistants. Pharmacy assistants like you and me, who are ready to be the face of change for the industry. Pharmacy assistants who are passionate about giving customers an ‘experience’ instead of just a ‘service’.  We are on the front line and I’m so glad there is an amazing award that gives honour to this position.


For me, being nominated was an amazing experience. It opened up my eyes to the importance of the role we do. We’ve all felt at some stage that dreaded thought, “I’m just an assistant”. Well this award makes way for the realisation of the truth that you are not ‘just’ an assistant – you are a big deal! We are generally the first face the customers see and the expectation for us to know everything about anything can be extreme. The fact that most of you out there do have the knowledge is outstanding and you should all be so proud. We are first aid workers, grief counsellors, weight loss coaches, managers, payroll officers, cleaners, stock controllers, medication managers and the list goes on! This award made me proud to be a pharmacy assistant. It ignited my passion and it confirmed in my mind where I’m supposed to be!


Once you are nominated, you are then given the chance to proceed to the next level by answering a few questions about yourself and the industry. Last year there were 750 nominations received which was a record-breaking achievement. In the words of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President George Tambassis,

“It goes to show how incredibly valued pharmacy assistants are to their peers, workplace, customers and the industry, and highlights the high quality of our community pharmacy assistants.”

The top 20 responses are chosen and become finalists in each state. They are then invited to participate in a training workshop day in their state. This includes a number of personal and professional development activities in a fun and interactive environment. These workshops are also a great opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded people who share the same vision and passion for their jobs; and who also share the same frustrations! One winner is chosen from the top 20 in each state to move forward to the nationals. This is an opportunity to not only represent yourself and your pharmacy but also your entire state. And believe me, your entire state will be cheering you on from the sidelines! I have had messages from people who I don’t even know, cheering me on and encouraging me to give it my best. People who have believed in me more than I have in myself. What a surreal experience!


Once you reach the nationals, it’s a whole other ball game. It’s time to get brave! This is your moment to step out of your comfort zone and do something truly amazing (yet terrifying) at the same time. This is your moment to shine and also be super proud, because if you’ve gotten this far, you are already a winner regardless of the outcome!

The PATY Award and the process taught me a lot about myself. It was uplifting, motivating and inspiring! It gave me a much needed confidence boost and new vision for my career that I so desperately needed. But, to be completely honest the best part of the Award was making lifelong friendships. The other State Finalists were simply amazing and were all so encouraging. When you share a life changing experience with others, such as the PATY Award, it creates a special bond between you. To this day, we never go a week without talking to each other. Just a shame we all live in different states!


As we head into our 13th year of the PATY Award, the question is, to nominate or not to nominate? Well it’s a pretty easy one to answer…yes!!! Nominate, nominate, nominate! If you have a fellow work colleague that you think deserves this honour and recognition of all the hard work they’ve done, nominate them.  If you have a staff member who needs a bit of a confidence boost, nominate them. If you know a pharmacy assistant who has a heart for people and really understands the “community” in community pharmacy, nominate them. If you are a passionate pharmacy assistant who wants to improve the industry, don’t wait for someone to nominate you – nominate yourself!  And remember, if someone does nominate you, give it a go and respond to your nomination. You have everything to gain from this experience!

Let’s celebrate the passion and commitment of pharmacy assistants around Australia and nominate today at

1 thought on “The PATY Award…What’s the big deal?”

  1. Pharmacy assistants are very valued and work hard. It’s a real pity this is reflected in their pay award. Retail in Woolworths earns more and the training a pharmacy assistant must do and the trusted position they hold and exercise should be recognised in many circles. They are awesome knowledgeable compassionate employees and I am proud to know a few. The awards are a bug deal. The role us a bug deal and the role us a big deal. Congratulations to all nominees past and present. Let’s hope they will be recognised in the health sector and not deemed retail for much longer .

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