Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December 2013 Contents 34
Australian Pharmacist December 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
Professor Austin said that events such as
the PSA Pharmacy Student of the Year and
the PSA excellence awards (see page 33)
were great ways to expose pharmacists
and students to positive role models.
‘Celebrating those kinds of individuals,
letting their stories be told, I think that
is a huge part of where mentorship
and creating cultural change can
It’s unfortunate we have one award once
in a while. At a certain point people will
say “ahhh that person is an award winner.
They’re a completely different genus to
me. They’re not the average pharmacist.”
‘It’s the dozens of people who do
something small but meaningful that
start to build a culture shift,’ he said.’
However, Professor Austin believes there
may be other ways of tapping into this.
He said that the profession has not yet
begun to use social media as a peer
support type of system.
‘If there’s ways to use social media to
connect people who truly are peers –
for example, “you know I had a really bad
day yesterday, I had a good day today.
Here’s what happened” – those kinds
‘I was quite intrigued by Claire
Anderson’s presentation [at PAC13]
where she talked about how patients
need that kind of peer affirmation as
well. I think as pharmacists continue
with our professional development
that peer affirmation and social media
is a perfect way for disseminating it.
The [Pharmaceutical] Society can play
a leading role in facilitating that kind
Counselling competitions that emphasis
communication are a positive way to develop
skills and provide role models according to
It will come as no surprise to anyone who
heard him at PAC13 to find that he was
involved in the origins of PSA’s consistently
successful Pharmacy Student of the Year
John Bell, who suggested the PSOTY 10 years
ago said, ‘I met Zubin Austin at the IPSF
congress in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada) in
2004. He and I were drafted by the organising
committee to conduct a series of OSCEs
(Objectively Structured Clinical Examinations)
in which the IPSF delegates chose to compete.
‘ This “competition” was arranged such that
the student was tested for their clinical
and communication skills in a simulated
circumstance with a “pseudo patient” and
the examiner, one student at a time, but with
no-one else in the room. Zubin and I (examiner
and patient) chose a winner – announced at
the gala dinner with other prize winners from
‘It occurred to me at the time, here could be
the beginnings of a great event. I took the idea
to the then marketing team at PSA and we ran
The first event was held at PAC in Adelaide in
Mr Bell said that the idea was to test both the
communication and clinical skills in something
approaching a real life situation, but before an
audience, and to get audience interaction and
participation to make it entertaining. Each of
the states selected a student contestant.
‘ The Adelaide event was a resounding success
with PAC delegates hanging from the rafters
in the room which would have held 200
comfortably seated. So we sought larger
premises thereafter; and so PSOTY was well
established on the PSA calendar. The top
prize was a trip to the IPSF Congress the
‘I truly believe PSOTY has been (and I hope will
continue to be) successful in a number of ways
for students and PSA.’
Professor Austin agreed. He told Australian
Pharmacist: ‘ There’s a lot of things wrapped up
in a counselling competition.
‘It is incentivising, rewarding, benchmarking,
showing the pharmacy community what it is
we think is effective communication.’
Mr Bell said: ‘It seems most if not all of the
pharmacy schools around Australia have
embraced the PSOTY concept and included it
in their curriculums.
‘Also, as perhaps Zubin has suggested, I
believe it helps to motivate the students to be
more competent, confident and skilful with
their intervention and counseling strategies.
This may be the most important outcome.
‘ The event (not just the final at PAC, but the
heats at the various universities, the state finals
and the NAPSA activity) have also allowed us
to promote the way Self Care can be integrated
into the process of communicating with
patients/customers,’ he said.
Perhaps a measure of its success is that already
there are 50 entries for the next year’s wild card
event at the NAPSA Congress in Bendigo.
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