It’s a wrap!

Who were this year’s NAPSA Congress award winners and what did top pharmacy leaders have to say at the leading student conference?

NAPSA Congress 2021 – online for the first time ever due to the impacts of COVID-19 on travel arrangements – has finished with a bang, as a host of award winners was announced on Thursday along with a presentation from outgoing Pharmacy Guild president George Tambassis.

Ma Christel Joyce Manuel from the University of Western Australia was chosen as the winner of the Pharmacy Student of the Year (PSOTY) Wildcard title, after excelling in a counselling scenario that involved a patient with heartburn symptoms.

Her competitors Amirreza Zobdeh, a Master of Pharmacy student at Monash University, and Samantha King from the University of Queensland, also put up great presentations.

“The judges had a really difficult decision, all the finalists did a fantastic job,” said Mark Kinsela, CEO at PSA, who judged the competition alongside NAPSA president Ethan Kreutzer and early career pharmacist Bridgette Mackley. However, Mr Kinsela said, “there has to be a winner”.

Ms Manuel wins free attendance to PSA2021 and a chance to compete for the national PSOTY title at the event.

“I am thrilled and honoured for this amazing opportunity. I want to congratulate the other students and look forward to the final at PSA21,” she said.

PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, congratulated Ms Manuel on her achievement and highlighted the strong field of students competing for the wildcard spot.

“It is heartening to see the future of our profession on show, demonstrating a high level of clinical knowledge and passion,” he said.

“I commend all participants and finalists at this year’s competition and the future of pharmacy looks very bright going forward.”

NAPSA executive director Antoni Ukalovic announcing winners of the Vampire Cup awards.

The James Cook University Pharmacy Student Association (JCUPSA) was announced as the overall winner of the Vampire Cup for the second year in a row, with 108 donations in total.

The Queensland Pharmacy Students’ Association (QPSA) and the Canberra Student Pharmacy Association (CaSPA) came second and third respectively.

JCUPSA additionally won the Youngblood Award – which recognises the branch with a big year of growth that shows innovation in promoting the cup to students – also for the second year in a row.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood spokesperson Ben Payne thanked all the students for their contributions.

“Pharmacy students have an interest in helping and understand a fair bit about what plasma is used for,” he said.

Every donation saves three lives. This year the James Cook group saved nearly 400 lives, we’ve been really appreciative for the help.

Meanwhile the Spirit of Congress award went to an individual “who attends all of the education sessions, contributes, asks questions and participates in what is the ‘spirit of congress’,” explained NAPSA president Ethan Kreutzer.

“This year is a bit different being virtual, but we’ve still found our Spirit of Congress,” he said, announcing the award winner as Daniel Glisic.

The University of Newcastle Association of Pharmacy Students (UoNAPS) won Best Branch.

Forrest Tang from UoNAPS won Best Poster, which was described by Mr Kreutzer as “really clear, a very good presentation on a very interesting topic and overwhelmingly we thought this was the best person among the judges”.

And Abby Richardson, the Congress Organising Committee Chair, won Best People’s Choice Poster.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia outgoing national president George Tambassis spoke to the students about the Guild’s vision for the future and “full scope of practice” on the final day of Congress.

Mr Tambassis said the Guild is “advocating hard” to government for pharmacists to be able to administer all injectibles, prescribe, do lab tests, manage diseases that present in their pharmacies, and do therapeutic substitution.

Meanwhile PSA national president Chris Freeman, who addressed students earlier in the Congress, highlighted the significant opportunities that have occurred for pharmacists over the past year.

“The pharmacy profession has stood really tall during this time of crisis,” Associate Professor Freeman told delegates.

“Things we’ve been waiting for, for many years, have been escalated during the crisis and now we’re lobbying to get those things to continue.”

The next NAPSA Congress is planned to be held in Cairns in 2022.

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