Pharmacist of the Year announced

Kay Dunkley of the Pharmacists' Support Service

Kay Dunkley, Samuel Keitaanpaa and Debbie Rigby have been honoured in this year’s PSA Excellence Awards

Kay Dunkley has been named Pharmacist of the Year in the PSA Symbion Excellence Awards for 2020.

Kay Dunkley.
Kay Dunkley.

With a career spanning hospital and consultant pharmacy, Ms Dunkley is probably best known as Executive Officer of the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS), a telephone helpline that offers support related to the many demands of being a pharmacist in Australia.

She has worked at the PSS for over 15 years, and holds an additional role organising support for doctors with the Australian Medical Association.

Ms Dunkley said she accepted the award on behalf of all pharmacists on the frontline who have worked tirelessly through the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“This year the pharmacists who should be receiving this award are those on the frontline, they are all pharmacists of the year in 2020,” she said.

“During the bushfires, there were pharmacists who slept in their cars next to the pharmacy and others who organised delivery of medicines via jet ski or boat when there was no road access and there were those pharmacists who attended evacuation centres to organise medication.

“Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and pharmacists and pharmacy staff once more found themselves on the frontline dealing with community members who were anxious, frustrated and fearful, having to completely change the way they work to ensure public safety and remain open when other members of the community went into isolation.

These are the heroes of pharmacy who are all deserving of this award and I am accepting it on their behalf.

Northern Territory pharmacist Samuel Keitaanpaa, who is the current PSA SA/NT branch vice president, was announced as the Early Career Pharmacist of the Year for 2020.

He is the first from the Northern Territory to receive the award.

Mr Keitaanpaa graduated in pharmacy from Charles Darwin University and is currently completing a PhD around QUM of smoking medication supply to Indigenous Australians. He has been working in community pharmacy for the past five years.

“The Northern Territory has provided me so many opportunities to help improve patients’ lives and strengthen other health services and professionals around the safe use of medicines,” he said.

“I am thankful for everyone who has helped me along the way, either directly supporting me or just giving me the time to discuss how pharmacy can help.

“There are so many hard working pharmacists up here so I am proud to be able to represent them through this award.”

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Debbie Rigby, a Brisbane-based consultant clinical pharmacist and director at NPS MedicineWise, said she is absolutely thrilled to receive the award.

“Being the first female to be recognised for the PSA Lifetime Achievement Award makes it very special to me,” said Ms Rigby, who was also named AJP’s most influential woman in Australian pharmacy in 2016.

“I have been very fortunate throughout my career to be surrounded by generous pharmacists who have inspired, mentored and supported me to make the most of opportunities and innovations.”

PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said he was delighted to congratulate this year’s award winners who were all worthy recipients, following strong nominations across all three categories.

2020 has been an extraordinary year, one where pharmacists have gone above and beyond to serve the community, said A/Prof Freeman.

“These three pharmacists have all exemplified a contribution to the profession and maintained the highest standards of commitment and professionalism,” he said.

Each award winner receives a Symbion Education Grant valued at $9,000. Symbion CEO Brett Barons said the PSA Excellence Awards provide much deserved recognition of those pharmacists who have made a substantial contribution to the profession.

“On behalf of everyone at Symbion, we extend our congratulations to this year’s winners and thank them for their dedication and for inspiring all sectors of the profession. The roles these pharmacists have played in providing care to their communities is quite extraordinary,” he said.

“We have been a proud sponsor of these awards for the past 16 years, but this year’s awards mean just that little bit more with all that we have experienced in 2020.”

See our story on PSA’s Intern Pharmacist of the Year for 2020 here

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