WELCOME TO MY HOUSE: Up close and personal with PATY Award winner Alice Vanderpol


All I ever wanted to do was be a Veterinary Nurse! Well… let’s be honest, my dream job was actually a Tiger Trainer at Dream World! So I pursued the next best thing…working with cats on a smaller scale…Veterinary Nursing!

I was born on a dairy farm in Gippsland.  After a sea change in QLD for 7 years, my family relocated back to Victoria, buying a farm located 15 minutes south of the mighty Murray River. Our closest town was a small country town called Numurkah with a population of 4,500 people.

I worked on a local dairy farm, milking 800 cows to pay my way through TAFE. Through work experience I obtained a job at a local veterinary clinic, where I pursued my vet nursing dream, becoming a fully qualified Veterinary Nurse in 2006. During this time I had the honour of receiving Veterinary Nurse of the Year in 2004. So you wouldn’t believe my amazement when I received the nomination for the PATY Award…could this be possible, could I actually win another prestigious award in my chosen career?!


Now you’re probably wondering, how on earth did she end up in pharmacy?! My husband and I decided to start a family, so I ended up quitting Vet Nursing and become a full time mum, in the years that followed we had 3 beautiful little girls and was blessed to be able to spend 7 years at home with them.

I got itchy feet and decided to get back into the workforce. Due to the lack of Job positions available in the Veterinary world, I found myself forced to pursue a brand new career. Being 30 and with 3 young kids in tow, I had no idea what I wanted to do! The local pharmacy looked like a nice place to work, so that’s where I started. The only thing I was concerned about was the people! Yep, that’s right, you heard it here first- I wasn’t a huge fan of people. I think that’s part of the reason why I loved working alongside animals! Early on in my childhood I developed quite a sever stutter and I found communicating with people very difficult, as I got older it got better and eventually disappeared. This was part of the reason why I didn’t like communicating with people and hey let’s face it animals don’t argue with you and are always happy to see you!

I got the job and spent the next two years learning the role of a Pharmacy Assistant. During this time my boss unfortunately was unable to facilitate my desire for extra study and training and I became very frustrated and despondent. I did however find solace in the customers and developed a likening to them, especially the elderly as their vulnerability really touched me and I felt rewarded every time I was able to help them. Even though I surprisingly enjoyed the people, I was very discouraged and felt very much unfulfilled in my role. I felt like I lacked knowledge and education. I was ready to give it all up and pursue yet another career change! This was a catalyst for another sea change for my family. And that is when we moved to Echuca/Moama. My new beginning officially started when I walked into Moama Village Pharmacy with resume in hand and enquired about a job. I was basically hired on the spot, only to realise one of the staff members had resigned only hours earlier.


Finally, I was properly introduced to the pharmacy world. I got thrown straight into Webster packing, having the opportunity to operate and work alongside a “Meds Pro Robot.” I had never packed a Webster pack in my life, let alone knew that a medication packing robot even existed! I learnt so much in my first 6 months there, I thought my brain would explode! I was in love! The more I learnt the more my passion for education was ignited. I have been there for nearly 3 years now and during that time I have done my Long Dispensary Course, Certificate 3 in Community Pharmacy and currently finishing my Certificate 4 in Dispensary. I am extremely thankful to my bosses who not only saw the potential in me; but the benefit of education and training. By investing in me, they are investing into their pharmacy. I am a strong advocate in further education, training and up skilling and have always believed that an educated Pharmacy Assistant is a better Pharmacy Assistant.

I love the opportunity I have to continue to explore the knowledge I have gained through my studies and expand my product knowledge. Part of my role now entails educating and teaching staff about products, which I find very rewarding and personally satisfying as I’m gaining knowledge as well. Being front of house, I also get to interact with customers again and this is where the ‘community’ in community pharmacy gets put into action. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you I once disliked people, would you?!

I look forward to sharing more about my journey to becoming the 2018 Pharmacy Assistant of the Year and hopefully inspiring you to continue to achieve in this wonderful industry.

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