The accidental pharmacist

Lisa Nissen.
Lisa Nissen.

Queensland pharmacist Lisa Nissen has been handed the Australasian Pharmaceutical Sciences Association’s top honour… and told delegates how she happened to get into the profession

Professor Lisa Nissen, head of school, Faculty of Health at Queensland University of Technology, was named as the recipient of APSA’s highest award at its annual national conference in Melbourne, held this week.

The award recognises excellence and lasting contribution to the pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacy practice and/or pharmacy education.

Prof Nissen, a former PSA Qld Branch President, has for some years been a contributor to the AJP, and is the recipient of awards including the joint Bowl of Hygeia 2014 for her groundbreaking work in the Queensland Pharmacist Immunisation Pilot.

“Lisa is, and has been for many years, a driving force for progress and change in the pharmacy profession, and has exceptional ongoing influence and reach at State, National and International levels,” the citation reads.

“Her love of pharmacy and belief in the valuable contribution that pharmacists make to healthcare and patients have been what motivates, drives and inspires her.

“Through her work as a clinician, teacher, researcher, academic and advocate, Lisa has been a driving force in creating contemporary healthcare professionals, forging new roles and pathways for the profession to serve as part of the healthcare team.

“Whenever and where ever necessary she inspires, pushes and pulls the profession forward and helps pharmacists believe in themselves.

“Through her service and contribution on many national committees and working groups, she has ensured and continues to ensure the pharmacist’s voice is at the table and lends her expertise to develop contemporary models of practice.”

Prof Nissen told the AJP that she was fortunate to deliver a 45-minute oration about her career, as well as reflections on key people and research, as part of the award.

She said that there were “so many inspiring pharmacists to include—friends and mentor from my ‘phamily’.

“My talk was called The Accidental Pharmacist—which reflected the fact that I ‘fell’ into pharmacy as a career.

“I decided to do music therapy (via occupational therapy) after a year of science at UQ and needed to have a plan B… thought something else in health would be good, liked chemistry—didn’t like the idea of physio and used to love the jelly beans at our local chemist.

“Chemist equals chemistry, so that would be okay!”

While she missed out on getting into the OT course, Prof Nissen entered pharmacy instead: and “the rest as they say is history!”

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