AJP chats with Matthew Scott, who has recently transitioned from intern to fully fledged pharmacist at Alfred Health in Melbourne
1. How have you found the transition from intern to pharmacist so far?
Transitioning from intern to pharmacist is really hard to describe to someone who hasn’t done it. One part of me was scared to lose my safety net, but the other part of me was ecstatic to be able to start my career as an actual pharmacist.
I’ve now been a pharmacist for just over a month and looking back and reflecting upon this time, really, very little has changed. All the processes have stayed the same, my working hours have stayed the same, and there are still days when I’m reminded that I don’t know everything.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is both the fact I no longer have to explain exactly what an intern pharmacist is to my family, friends and other healthcare professionals in the hospital. And, of course, the pay increase.
2. What are you enjoying most about working at Alfred Health?
The best part about Alfred Health is definitely the people. Not only have I met lifelong friends but I’ve had access to incredibly knowledgeable and innovative pharmacists.
There are a number of emerging roles for pharmacists being pioneered in my workplace, perhaps too many to mention in this short piece, but the stewardship programs in place are very exciting for me as an early career pharmacist.
To add to an antimicrobial stewardship program, we have an analgesic and anticoagulation stewardship program that demonstrates the immense value pharmacists as medication experts can have in these areas.
3. Name some challenges you have had in your pharmacy career so far, and how you have dealt with them.
I have found expectation to be the biggest challenge of my career to date. Mostly expectation I placed upon myself. I’m sure there will be plenty of pharmacists reading this who look back to their intern and early career pharmacist days and remember the times they let self-doubt creep in. Particularly as an intern, it can hit in your first week, your last week or anywhere in between.
I’ve found having good people around you in your personal and professional life the key to managing this. In my professional life, I was lucky to have six fellow interns and an amazing intern co-ordinator to go through the year with, all of which were great people and even better support.
I also had mentors who were early career pharmacists both formally and informally appointed to help me navigate life in the early stages of my career. At the end of the day you also know your close friends and family will be behind you 100%, utilise them.
4. What advice would you give to pharmacy students about how to get the best possible start in their career and secure a good job?
My first piece of advice would be to sit down and work out what a good job looks like in your own eyes, find what YOU want to do. The next step is to look at what is happening throughout both the pharmacy world and wider healthcare community and see who is doing a job similar to where you want to take your career.
If you can find that person, go out of your way to introduce yourself. In my experience, more senior pharmacists care about the future of their profession and respond well to enthusiasm from the next generation, I’ve never had someone I admired turn around and say they weren’t interested in helping me take my career in the direction I wanted to go.
You will also find that pharmacy is a small world so even if someone can’t help you, they can often point you in the right direction. A good mentor can change everything.
For me, I have always been interested in pain and addiction medicine. While it’s not a recognised role for a pharmacist, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with our analgesic stewardship pharmacist, Thuy Bui, who has mentored me through a research project in the area, two intern exams, a years’ worth of intern issues and shown me what pharmacy practice can be.