Leading the profession

We speak to Jacinta Johnson, voted by readers at number four in our list of Pharmacy’s 10 Rising Stars

AJP: When and where did you study pharmacy?

JJ: I completed my Bachelor of Pharmacy with Honours at the University of South Australia. I graduated in 2008, undertook my intern year in 2009 and first registered in 2010.

AJP: What additional qualifications and roles have you achieved since then?

JJ: After starting my career as a hospital pharmacist, I went back to Uni to undertake a PhD in pharmacology at the University of Adelaide.

I loved running my own research project during my honours and – after accumulating a substantial debt studying pharmacy – the opportunity to build my skills studying a topic I was particularly passionate about, without adding to my debt and while being supported with a scholarship, was just too good to pass up! It was during my PhD that I first began teaching with the School of Nursing at the University of Adelaide and in the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences at UniSA.

While I was studying I was also able to practice in community pharmacy and in a Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia clinic. After I finished up my PhD I moved back in to hospital pharmacy, where I practiced as a Senior Pharmacist in the High Dependency Unit and Flinders Medical Centre.

AJP: How would you describe your current role?

Currently my time is shared between two roles. I spend half of my week working with the next generation of pharmacists, as I coordinate the second year pharmacology and pharmacy practice courses at UniSA. This involves lots of content and assessment planning, delivering lecturing and tutorials and running hands on workshops in the model pharmacy.

I spend the other half of my week in the role of Senior Pharmacist, Clinical Educator within the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN). In this role I facilitate training, development and continuing education for my hospital pharmacist colleagues.

Since May this year this role has included coordinating the inaugural SALHN SA Pharmacy Residency Program, as part of the wider Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) Residency Program too.

AJP: Regarding your journey from graduation to where you are in your career now: What have been the highlights? What have been the lows/challenges?

JJ: A lot of the highlights of my pharmacy journey have actually been external to my employment – I’ve loved the opportunities I’ve had to contribute to the pharmacy profession through roles with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), being elected to the SA/NT Branch Committee, appointed to the National Practice Support and Education Committee and Chairing the SA/NT Early Career Pharmacists group for the past 3 years.

In particular it’s been really rewarding to see what the SA/NT Early Career Pharmacist group have achieved in supporting our peers.

Other highlights have been around research – it’s always exciting to see a project grow from a question or a half developed idea through to a collaborative study and finally on to a publication that actually has an impact on practice!

One challenge I have faced – that was highlighted in the Thinkergirls video online recently – is the lack of community understating of the roles, responsibilities and the capability of pharmacists! I think this lack of public understanding can contribute to resistance to engage in conversations about health with pharmacists, which in some cases can limit our ability to find the best solutions and health outcomes for our patients, particularly in the community pharmacy setting.

I think we all need to make use of our circle of influence wherever we can to increase understanding in the community, and that starts by consistently engaging with our patients! It’s hard to explain to a patient that we have the responsibility to gain a clear history before supplying a medicine, when they have recently obtained the same medicine without even speaking directly to a pharmacist.

AJP: If you could give one piece of advice to ECPs, what would it be?

JJ: Engage with your profession! There are so many different pressures on early career pharmacists it’s easy to burn out. Engaging with our professional bodies and staying in touch with pharmacy peers more generally, can really help to re-inflate and re-inspire you!

You will always be a better pharmacist if you love your job, and peer support can play a huge role in maintaining that passion that lead you to a career in pharmacy in the first place!

Click here to see the full list of AJP’s 10 Rising Stars of Pharmacy

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