Pharmacy Assistant of the Year finalists reveal all

All the state winners of the Pharmacy Assistant of the Year (PATY) Award have now been selected

PATY, in its 11th year under the auspices of the Pharmacy Guild, received a record number of entries—633—65 more than in 2016! 

Guild president, George Tambassis, said it was great to see so many owners, pharmacists, managers, colleagues and customers and pharmacy assistants get involved.

Guild training manager and national PATY Judge, Deborah Scholz said PATY Award was created to recognise pharmacy assistants who not only go the extra mile to help their customers, but are also proactive in developing their careers.

“In doing so, they encourage others to strive for success and actively contribute to the community pharmacy industry,” she said.

It is sponsored by AFT Pharmaceuticals—and its general manager, Calvin MacKenzie said PATY  provides real value to the industry by showcasing the ‘best of the best’ of our frontline staff”.

Natanya McLenaghan

The judging process takes place over a series of state/territory-based workshops.

Incumbent Pharmacy Assistant of the Year, Natanya McLenaghan, (pictured right) retail manager, who manages more than 20 staff, says taking part in the PATY was an “amazing” experience.

“Winning has been a great morale boost to our team and knowing we are making a difference to people’s lives,” says Natanya.

Here’s what the state finalists said about taking part in the Award:

ACT: Stephanie Collier, Mitchell Discount Pharmacy

Stephanie (pictured left) is retail manager and was nominated by her operations manager, Erin Jones

 “When I got the letter saying I had been nominated, I was completely surprised,” Stephanie said. “In fact, I called Erin and queried whether or not it was legit, but I am very thankful it was,” she laughs.

And when she was announced as the ACT winner, such was her shock she didn’t recognise her own name.

“I just stood there and someone nudged me and went, ‘Steph, it’s you—you’ve won’—it was then it dawned on me that it had really happened!”

When Stephanie went back to work following the Workshop, she received congratulatory emails from colleagues—including one from her boss saying how much she deserved to win.

NT: Sally Edwards, United Chemists, Tennant Creek

Sally (pictured right) said she was “honoured” to have been nominated, never mind win the title.

“My husband and I made the 1000km trip to Darwin to the workshop–so to win is pretty mind blowing,” says Sally.

Sally has recently been appointed retail manager having worked in the dispensary prior.

“As we’re in a remote region keeping staff has always been a bit of a problem that’s why I feel training is so important. Well-trained staff have more investment in their roles as they find the job much more rewarding and can give so much more to the customers, which is crucial.”

In fact, Sally says that it was one customer’s weight loss achievement (the customer has lost an incredible 30kgs) and “changed her life”, and was one of Sally’s inspirations.

“I thought, if she can achieve so much, well, I should give this a go. It was something that was outside my comfort zone but I thought: stop procrastinating and go for it!”

And she’s glad she did.

“I am still really shocked and really thrilled. I am also looking forward to attending the national finals in October. Everyone tells me you get so much out of participating in the Award–I am very excited!”

NSW: Kylie Marsh, Priceline Pharmacy, Morisset

Kylie  (pictured left) has more than 11 years’ pharmacy experience and is now dispensary manager, a role she loves.

 “I set up the dispensary myself and I like it because I am an organised person and the job demands that and there’s always something to do—I like to keep busy,” Kylie said.

While Kylie admits that she had “high hopes” that she might do well, she was genuinely surprised to win.

 “I also hope with this win—which I have worked for—that I can inspire others to also move mountains. It is also fantastic to receive recognition individually and it is also great PR for what we do in our pharmacy.”

She also says she is “super excited” about attending the national finals. “I can’t wait—it will be amazing.”

QLD: Clare Stone, Alive Pharmacy, Calliope

“Totally amazing”, was how Clare described winning.

Clare (pictured right) is retail manager at Alive Pharmacy in the small town of Calliope.

She was nominated for the Award by two different Pharmacy Guild trainers/assessors.

Clare believes PATY awards are crucial to the development and reputation of pharmacy staff.

 “I often think that many people don’t realise how much a difference pharmacy assistants do make–that’s why awards such as PATY are so important,” Clare said..

Clare also stressed the win is not just for her, but for the entire pharmacy.

“It’s a win for us all—for my fantastic boss Nick Loukas—and the other staff including Tiera, operations manager, and Amber, the marketing assistant–this was about our wonderful team and the community we support.”

Clare says she’s really looking forward to attending PA2017 for the national finals in October.

“I’ve heard a lot about it and now that I am attending I just cannot wait—it will be very exciting!”

SA: Kimberley Hunt, Priceline Pharmacy, Gawler Place, Adelaide

Kimberley (pictured left) is retail manager with more than 12 years’ experience in pharmacy and said winning the award is a “shock”.

Kimberley said it was nice to receive the support and recognition of her boss, Nick, and other colleagues, including her business development manager, Caitlin.

“I’d heard about the Award but had never thought about entering. So when I got my letter saying I had been selected to attend the state finals I was determined to do something about it,” Kimberly said.

She recalls when how she was genuinely surprised to win. when she was “I was shaking actually when they called my name; and Simone (who nominated her) was ecstatic, as were my colleagues.”

Kimberley said she is looking forward to attending the finals at PA2017.

“I will probably be nervous, but I see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity; and I’ve already had some lovely messages saying congratulations from other PATY winners.”

TAS: Sam Vince, Priceline Pharmacy, Hobart

Sam (pictured right) is retail manager to approximately 16 staff, having worked for Priceline for more than 18 years, 10 of which were for Priceline Pharmacy.

“I’ve seen the Priceline brand focus more on the pharmacy side of things over this time–and the customer interaction that comes with that—it’s really appealing to me,” Sam said.

“You are required to have so much knowledge compared to general retail and a lot of responsibility comes with that, which you have to deliver and rise to. Also, as we work for individual owners there is a much greater sense of your own investment in the business. It’s like you are running your own business—but with the support of a strong retail brand, so you get the best of both worlds –and I am very proud of what we achieve here.”

Sam is no stranger to Awards, having won Priceline Pharmacy’s Retail Manager Award  for Vic/Tas in 2015.

“However, I went into this Award a bit blind–and like many a true Aussie downplayed it a bit. I was surprised to be nominated, then surprised to be selected to attend the Judging Workshop–so to win–to say that’s a surprise, is an understatement.

“I didn’t even tell my wife about it,” laughs Sam. “She thought–like many of my colleagues–I was attending some sort of training day.”

Sam now said he’s very much looking forward to attending the finals at PA2017 on the Gold Coast.

“It will be great to meet the other finalists and mix with other industry people. And whatever happens, I think I will learn a lot from it.”

VIC: Stephanie Meiklejohn, Nhill Pharmacy

Stephanie (pictured right) has worked in the pharmacy for more than nine years where she manages the front-of-shop, cosmetics and depot deliveries.

She was nominated by her boss, Jack Janetzki, and even though she knew this, seeing it in writing came as a wonderful shock.

“When I read the letter saying I’d been nominated I just burst into tears,” admits Stephanie. “It is so great to know that you are being appreciated for the job you do–and it helped put me in the the right frame of mind to make the most of being part of the Award.”

When Stephanie was announced that she would represent Victoria in the finals she said it was a shock but also a huge honour.

“I kept expected them to name someone else–as I definitely thought it wasn’t going to me! And before I knew it the announcement had been put on Facebook, and Jack had beaten me to it (he attended the day with me) ringing my fiancée to give him the good news–I think I am still in shock today!”

Also, being from a small community, word soon spread about her success.

“I’ve had some lovely comments from my customers and even one was in tears! It’s very humbling; and it’s such a special feeling to represent our town and Victoria.”

WA: Karlie Read, TerryWhite Chemmart, Rockingham

Karlie (pictured left) is manager of health sections at the pharmacy where she has worked for more than two and a half years.

She said her nomination from colleague, Jazmine, came as a “total and very welcome surprise”.

“I’d heard of the Award but that’s all I really knew, so when I got the letter saying that I had made it through to the state judging Workshop I was elated and thrilled.”

Karlie said when it was announced she was the winner it was so unexpected she had to do a double-take.

“I am not one normally lost for words,” laughs Karlie. “But I pulled myself together and thanked everyone–the other participants, the Guild and AFT; I still feel in shock!”

Some of the first people she told about her success, included her mum and her boss, Vahid Khalessi-Rad.

“My boss encourages us to always serve our customers to the highest standard, so his recognition of my work and my accomplishments means a lot. He was over the moon and full of praise for my professional work with staff and customers; and my ‘elite standards’.”

Karlie says she “just cannot wait” for the finals in October.

“I never even been to Queensland before, never mind the conference–so it cannot come soon enough! I am so looking forward to meeting the other finalists and mixing and mingling with pharmacy assistants from across the country; and learning a lot more from industry representatives–it will be fantastic!”

The National winner is selected at the finals at the Pharmacy Assistant National Conference, 26-28 October, Gold Coast.

They will receive more than $10,000 worth of prizes and write a monthly column for Post Script magazine.

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