AJP chats with… Verity Boustead

Verity is a student Covid vaccine preparer, helped launch a new journal and while she’s “no MasterChef”, she makes a mean loaded nachos! Getting to know the new NAPSA President for 2021-22

Verity Boustead was recently elected as president of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) for the 2021-22 term, taking over the role from Ethan Kreutzer.

Here we try to find out a little more about the new incoming president.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a fourth-year pharmacy student at Monash University in Melbourne, and I’m halfway through my year.  At Monash I’m fortunate to have done quite extensive placements, including a myriad of community, hospital and research placements.

Some of the highlights have definitely been getting to meet new and different pharmacists. As students I think it’s really important that we interact with as many pharmacists within the profession as we can, and learn from all of their experiences. I also completed a two-week placement in the intensive care unit which was definitely a highlight of mine and something I would like to explore in the future.

I currently work as a pharmacy student at The Alfred Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. At the Alfred, I work in the inpatient dispensary and the outpatient dispensary, helping to prepare the discharge medications for patients. I’m also involved with the preparation of the Covid vaccine for some of my time there. At St Vincent’s I am primarily involved with the Covid vaccine program there, helping to draw up the vials and ensure they are all ready to go for as many people as we have.

It’s fantastic to be involved in such a crucial time and work with such passionate pharmacists from all different areas.

Even if I only prepare one hundred vaccines a day, it’s still an extra hundred lives who I could potentially be saving.

It’s a role two years ago no one thought we would be doing, it just goes to show that pharmacy students are extremely diligent, capable and we take all opportunities that we can to grow and develop.

2. How did you get involved with NAPSA?

I’ve been involved with a number of committees. I started off with a university committee called the Monash Parkville Student Union, and my role was really to represent the views and the experiences of the pharmacy student cohort.

Last year I attended the NAPSA Congress in Newcastle, it was a fantastic experience – that was my first taste of NAPSA! And I really learnt how incredible of an organisation NAPSA is and how much they do for their students to get them involved and connected with the profession.

The opportunity for the research chair position came up halfway through last year. It’s an area that I’m really interested in and it’s been an incredible last 12 months as the research chair. With the establishment of the Australian Pharmacy Students’ Journal (APSJ) that Juliet [Contreras] and I have worked on, research is definitely an up-and-coming area for students and it would be great to see more professional bodies getting involved and promoting research at that student level.

I wanted to take the opportunity even further and help really connect pharmacy students with the profession and ensure that all pharmacy students across the country can have an incredible university experience and get the most out of their time as a student.

So that’s why I thought I’d put my hand up and apply for the position of president – and fortunately I was successful! It’s fantastic to have earned the trust of the entire advisory council and of my fellow NAPSA members and committee members to be elected into the role, and it’s an absolute honour and privilege.

I can’t say this time 18 months ago attending NAPSA Congress I’d ever have dreamt or thought I could be in this position.

3. How do you hope to go about increasing student engagement over the next year?

Ethan has done an incredible job of connecting students with the profession and industry. Collectively I think that the pharmacy cohort in Australia are so capable, motivated and willing to learn, so we need to provide more opportunities to students to take on new responsibilities. I think it’s really been highlighted through the pandemic, where students have taken on roles such as being student vaccine preparers.

So through working with these professional organisations and bodies, I think we can further develop more opportunities for NAPSA members to really grow their knowledge and their skillset and really prosper into exemplary pharmacy graduates.

It’s really important on a student level that we can engage with all different realms of the profession, whether it be industry, community, hospital… there’s so many new and emerging areas for pharmacists as well, and I think one of the key roles of NAPSA is to promote that to students and showcase all of the incredible things you can do as a pharmacist and also at the student level.

Although I have my own ambitions for what I hope to achieve in the coming year, the goals of the NAPSA members, advisory council, chairs and executive directors, will be my goals too, and I will support them in achieving those goals.

As Ronald Reagan said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets people to do the greatest things.”

4. Share with us three (non-pharmacy) things about you?

1 – I absolutely love hiking, exploring the outdoors and going on treks throughout Victoria. I would love the opportunity to travel interstate as well when Covid is a little bit more under control, and explore all of the incredible natural wonders of Australia.

2 – I really enjoy cooking. I can’t say I’m a pro cook and I’m definitely no MasterChef, but it’s definitely a great to just take my mind off everything, off uni and my extracurricular commitments as well. With meal prep, you feel so satisfied once you have all your meals set out for the day and you don’t have to worry – I’m a very organised person! I’m definitely a savoury person and one of my good friends put me onto loaded nachos, but instead of using corn chips you use roast potatoes. It’s nice and healthy but a bit of a treat too!

3 – I have a 15-year-old sister and a 13-year-old brother, so although they’re often studying and a lot of my time spent with them is helping my sister with her chemistry or maths, or helping my brother with his Year 8 studies, they are so important to me and I’m very lucky to spend time with them and take them out. It’s great as well to see them transition from tiny little kids to teenagers now. They’re a big part of my life and I love any opportunity I get to spend time with them.

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