Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist July 2012 Contents 534 Australian Pharmacist July 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
RURAL PHARMACY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP
Assistant Program wins
By Lindy Swain
The Northern Rivers Career Link Pharmacy
Program won the Building a Medicine Wise
Community category of the National Medicine
Wise awards at the National Medicines
Symposium in Sydney in late May.
The award was presented by Parliamentary
Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine
King, and NPS CEO, Dr Lynn Weekes, at the
National Medicines Symposium.
Dr Weekes said the award winners represent the
breadth of quality use of medicines activities
happening in the community.
'Consumers need to be at the centre of all we
do in building a medicine wise community,
and each of the National MedicineWise Award
winners demonstrates one way in which health
outcomes can be positively impacted through
quality use of medicines activity,' she said.
The Career Link pharmacy program was
developed to provide young Aboriginal
people with sustainable local employment,
and the opportunity to obtain further training
and education. This program, which began
in October 2009, is a joint initiative of the
Northern Rivers University Centre for Rural
Health, Connect, North Coast NSW Department
of Education and Training (DET), and the
North Coast Institute of TAFE. Individuals from
these organisations have worked together
to encourage community involvement,
pharmacist engagement, school and
Year 10, 11 and 12 school students undertake
the Retail Services 240 hour VET course plus
the 120 hour Retail Specialisations course at
the North Coast TAFE in Lismore, where they
attend a face-to-face class once a month.
On completing their training the students
are eligible for a Certi cate II in Community
Pharmacy. The trainees also undertake 760
hours of paid employment in community
pharmacy over two years, whilst completing
Local pharmacists have done a fantastic job
supporting these students, many of whom
face challenges at home and at school.
The employment of a project o cer, as a
mentoring and support person, to work with
the students and their families, has been vital to
the program's success. This project o cer has
assisted the trainees in negotiating with schools
and employers, assisted trainees with TAFE
and school work, and sorted out transport and
other social issues for the students.
Five students from the initial group have
graduated from the program with their
Certi cate II in Community Pharmacy. Four of
these students also attained their HSC. Three are
now employed full time in the pharmacies
where they trained, and one is hoping to
enrol in nursing. Five more students are due
to graduate at the end of 2012. Another 10
students have recently enrolled in the program,
and will graduate in December 2013.
Janelle Morissey, their TAFE teacher says,
'Working with these students is so rewarding.
It is wonderful to watch their growth in self
esteem and skills. Although many of these
students are unenthusiastic about school,
the passionate manner in which they have
embraced their retail pharmacy employment
has been outstanding'.
The students speak highly of the program.
As one student said, 'When I rst started this
course I didn't know what it would be like.
Since then I've gained so much; a paid job,
self-con dence and way more. I feel that I am
not only doing it for my own bene t but I'm
also doing it for all the Aboriginal people in
Many of the girls come from areas of high
unemployment so to secure a permanent
position is highly valued.
'I'm working full-time and I couldn't imagine
working anywhere else. My employers are like
my family,' one of the graduates said.
The pharmacists and their sta have also
gained much from employing these students.
A pharmacy Honours student has conducted
interviews with a number of pharmacists and
they made very positive comments, such as, 'It's
been rewarding, illuminating' and 'our trainee
does a really good job, she's really friendly and
attentive and learns so quickly'.
Some barriers are also starting to come down.
One pharmacist commented that, 'It's been
really interesting meeting her family... because
I haven't had a lot to do with Aboriginal people
at all really'.
The Career Link Pharmacy project gives
Northern Rivers Aboriginal school students
employment pathway opportunities and
assists them to play an important role in the
medication management and health care of
Seeing these young Aboriginal students
succeed in both the school and work
environments has been a huge reward for
the project team. They believe that with the
appropriate support and structure this program
could succeed in other regions. If you would like
to know more about how such a program could
be duplicated in your region please contact
Lindy Swain at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Editor's note: What Lindy did not mention is that
she is part of the hard working group that set the
Northern Rivers Career Link Pharmacy Program and
should be congratulated for winning the award
along with the other organisers.)
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