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Pharmacists have different memories of their intern year. Some reflect on it
as one of the most stressful years of their life, others enjoy getting stuck in
to full time work, without the full responsibilities of being a pharmacist.
My year as an intern in rural West
Australia was a fantastic experience that
ultimately helped me get the award for
PSA MIMS Australian Intern Pharmacist
of the Year 2016.
I am a firm believer that the intern year
is possibly the most important year for
establishing a career in pharmacy, so it
is imperative interns find a supportive
workplace and preceptor to aid in
transition from student to professional.
Finding the right work environment can
be hard; I was fortunate enough to do
a six-week placement at Brooks Garden
Chemmart Pharmacy in the final year of
my Masters degree at Curtin University.
Brooks Garden is located in the small
seaside town of Albany, about five hours
south of Perth.
Pharmacy placements can be
considered as extended job interviews,
and have the advantage that the
student can see whether the pharmacy
is a right fit for them. I decided after my
six weeks at Brooks Garden that it was
a perfect place to complete my intern
year, and was fortunate enough that
they could take me back.
Working in rural pharmacy has many
benefits, both tangible and intangible.
Most rural pharmacists enjoy higher
wages than their city peers, and often a
more supportive working environment.
My experience working in rural areas
is that it allows the establishment of
more personal relationships between
pharmacist and customer. Customers
are largely respectful of your advice, and
because doctors don’t bulk bill as often
in the country, you become more of a
central triage point.
Rural pharmacy also promotes better
relationships between staff – it’s not
unusual to find yourselves at social
events with your colleagues.
The Pharmacy Guild, under the 6CPA,
offers generous allowances to promote
rural pharmacists. One of these payments
is a $10,000 allowance paid to a rural
pharmacy for taking an intern. If you
are considering a rural internship, make
sure you discuss this payment with your
preceptor – you will likely find they
are happy pay this money on to you.
There are also travel allowances available
to travel to intern workshops if you have
to get to your nearest capital city for your
education. Please note that all allowances
are available no matter what intern
training program you choose.
It is also important to find the right
preceptor to suit your learning style.
Preceptors are usually busy in their own
right, so they often appreciate an intern
to work as autonomously as is legally
possible. Don’t however, be afraid to
ask your preceptor questions – it might
be the only time in your career that
you have someone available for advice.
My preceptor, Brad Smithson, is also one
of the pharmacy owners, and he took a
passive role in training me, which suited
me well. I was also fortunate enough to
The transition from student
to registered pharmacist
BY JOSEPH FOSTER
have other pharmacists that were able to
answer my questions and give me advice.
Another significant choice for an intern
year is deciding on what intern training
program (ITP) to choose. Some preceptors
have a preference, but remember it is
ultimately your choice as to what one
you go for. I chose the PSA’s ITP, which
includes comprehensive study plans and
access to a large amount of CPD. I was
happy with the educational resources
provided by PSA and felt that they put me
in good stead to pass the written and oral
examinations during the intern year.
Whilst being an intern has its challenges,
it also has opportunities. Interns have
fresh eyes in the profession and can
often see changes that may benefit
the workflow of the pharmacy. In my
intern year I made changes to the
ordering process to smooth it out over
the month, rather than having a huge
order at the beginning. I also altered
the Workers’ Compensation process to
streamline payments and paperwork.
Joseph Foster of Western Australia is the 2016 PSA
MIMS Intern of the Year.
» EARLY CAREER PHARMACIST
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