Intern forced to walk boss’s dog, wash her car

A former intern was charged with fraud and forgery after she faked her boss’s signature to get away from her job

News Corp media have reported on the case of a young pharmacist who faked her employer’s signature when applying for her registration, exaggerating the number of hours she had worked under supervision.

The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard that the pharmacist graduated with honours and began her internship at a Brisbane pharmacy, where she began to experience significant workplace pressures.

The former intern’s Legal Aid lawyer told the Court that 2018 saw the young woman preparing medicines for up to 90 residents of nursing homes a week, while trying to study for her examinations.

She was also expected to perform duties such as “to run errands for [her employer] including things such as picking up wedding portraits, going out and buying lunch, walking [the employer’s] dog and taking her car in to get washed,” her lawyer said.

When she spoke to her employer about these conditions, her position was made part-time.

The pharmacist completed 1146 hours of supervised practice at the pharmacy, well short of the required 1824.

But she forged the signature of her employer and sent her application to register as a pharmacist to the Pharmacy Board in December of that year.

The registration was granted.

“In her mind she thought the only way out of a bad situation was to get registered and get another job,” her lawyer told the Court.

“She was a young person under extraordinary pressure who found herself making a regretful decision.”

The former boss informed health regulators about the shortfall in supervised hours and the forgery.

The practitioner worked for only one month as a registered pharmacist before being contacted by AHPRA and asked to cease doing so.

AHPRA’s investigation is still underway, and the practitioner has not returned to pharmacy, instead returning to study in a different area of health.

Charged with fraud, forgery, uttering a forged document and making a false entry in a record, she was fined $2000 and no conviction was recorded.

Pharmacists can contact the Pharmacists Support Service on 1300 244 910 for peer support  related to the demands of being a pharmacist in Australia.

Members can call PDL on 1300 854 838 for support from a Professional Officer.

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  1. A Ng

    I think the employer has to be discplined and be banned to be a preceptor. She did not do her duty as a preceptor. She exploited the intern, because she knew that the intern needed the position to get registration. As a preceptor, she has to employ the intern full-time and gives the intern the best supervision as possible.
    I feel very sorry for the intern. She must have felt very distressed and frustrated. She might have cried a lot every night. It was not a good experience to start a career as pharmacist. She was scarred by this and she has changed her career path. I agreed that she made a mistake with the forgery of signature. The intern was punished for that. But the employer still owes the intern an apology.
    To all preceptors out there, please treat your interns as if they are your children. Please don’t look at them like they are your slaves because they need you and your pharmacy. Please give them the best supervision you can. Who knows, your children may be their interns in the future. What you put out will come back to you in unexpected ways. Give only what you don’t mind getting back to you. It’s Karma.
    Sorry if my comments above hurt someone.

    • Tony Lee

      Agree completely

    • Michael von Bornemann

      Actually running errands is part of a intern’s job. If she didn’t like the type of errands the boss was sending her on she could’ve transferred her internship elsewhere.

      We don’t want a bureaucracy created checking on the type of errands intern’s run, otherwise pharmacies, etc won’t bother with the hassle.

      Fact is intern’s are like apprentices, you’re there to do all the shit jobs & hopefully get some on the job training in the process, not to do uni homework.

      • PeterA

        That is not what internships are for.

        They are for giving new practitioners work experience.

        How is walking their dog helpful for her learning how to be a pharmacist?

        Because that’s what the hours is about. It’s 1800 hours of pharmacy experience to ensure they have been exposed to most of what a pharmacist will be exposed to with the support of an “experienced” pharmacist supervising them.

        So explain why a pharmacist needs to know how to walk a dog and wash a car?

        • Michael von Bornemann

          We all seem to be taking the girl’s words as the gospel truth. Fact is people, including police, have a tendency to exaggerate in court. For example she may have only walked the dog once or twice when the boss was really pressed for time, yet she implies, or we interpret that as a regular thing.

          She forged her boss’s signature, meaning she’s dishonest & dishonest people lie. It sounds to me she grew up in a position of privledge & had a sense of entitlement. IMAO She got peaved that the boss was keeping her so busy with mundane jobs that she had no spare time at work to do uni homework.

          In fact one can transfer one’s internship to another pharmacy if there’s an issue between the pharmacist & the intern. There’s no justification for forging the boss’s signature. All that can do is put the intern in a very vulnerable position if the boss finds out.

          • PeterA

            Regarding the forgery allegations; I am one hundred percent in agreement. That forgery was not the right option.

            I do hope that the pharmacist that was her supervisor loses their right to be a supervisor however. Certainly sounds like mistakes were made with this internship.

            (Note: It doesn’t appear to be in question that her hours were cut to part time, and it would make sense also. I rather suspect that they submitted their paperwork at a point in time in which it implied they had done the requisite hours, had they been working full time.)

            I don’t think you’ll find anyone here in these comments saying she did the right thing by forging the signature. And implying that anyone is is a bit of a stretch.

            I have come to the opinion that both parties in this are at (differing) degrees of fault. The girl is obviously in a world of trouble because fraud is hardly a good look. But I doubt the supervisor is a saint.

      • Bidza M

        The whole notion of supervised hours is to get WORK related experience, so that by the time of registration the stated professional can deliver specified service in a manner safe to the public.If the supervised training does not in any way contribute to public safety by improving employee competence, then why have it in the first place?

    • Emma Wright

      Uhmm… she is supposed to be a health professional and she LIED about her experience. She deserves EVERYTHING she got. This disclipary action may have stopped her lying to thousands of patients and colleagues in the future. She’s an employee and… really, how is walking a dog and washing a car hard work and slavery. She was paid. She deserved to be disciplined.

      • A Ng

        I agree with Emma and Michael Von Bornemann about errands. It means that the VIVA exam should include walking dogs, washing cars and other errands. Example is a patient comes in with a dog and asks you how to walk the dog. The answer is easy: asking the WHAMM. What dog is that? How long have you had the dog? Is the dog pregnant? Do you have allergy to dogs? Etc. Same with washing cars.
        Preceptors are like teacher in a classroom. Imagine that a teacher asks your kids to walk his dog or wash his car. Would you get upset?
        Interns are future pharmacits. They are educated. They are not like pharmacy assistants with no education. According to the preceptor guide, there are nothing about giving errands to the interns. It is the period where the preceptor guides the interns through all the aspects of pharmacy practice.
        I said that I agreed that the intern made a big mistake and she deserved to be punished for lying. But her action was the consequence of the action of her employer not doing her duty as preceptor. Her employer LIED to her in the first place. By accepting her as an intern, the preceptor agreed silently to give her practice in pharmacy, not errands.
        Sorry if my comments hurt you.

  2. Amyna Helou

    I completely agree with you A Ng.
    Preceptors have the duty to try their best to give an intern the best start to their career, not treat them as slaves.

  3. (Mary) Kay Dunkley

    Unfortunately the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) hears too many reports from interns of their experiences of bullying, being physically and verbally abused and treated with disrespect, including being ridiculed when they make an error. While we do not in any way condone forgery or the actions of this intern we wholeheartedly agree that if she was treated as described the behaviour of the preceptor is unacceptable. While interns must be prepared to assist in all aspects of work in the pharmacy, including the more mundane tasks, they should not be expected to run errands of a personal nature for their preceptor. Interns are beholden to their preceptor to have their hours signed and this places them in a precarious position if they are unsatisfied with the behaviour of their preceptor. Interns are not cheap labour and they are not the same as a pharmacy assistant. A preceptor has an obligation to contribute to their training and education. Disrespect, bullying and any form of abuse including being the butt of colleagues jokes is not acceptable behaviour in any workplace and especially in a health profession like pharmacy. We encourage any pharmacist, intern or pharmacy student to ring the Pharmacists’ Support Service if you are experiencing this type of behaviour, so that we can assist you with guidance about your options to address a difficult workplace situation. We are available on 1300244910 every day of the year from 8am to 11pm AEDT (Note thi is daylight savings time in the eastern states).

  4. Vision Electric Solutions PE

    Perhaps she should of tried a legal option rather than fraudulent behaviour.
    Not a good start to a career in pharmaceuticals

  5. Emma Wright

    Serves herself right. How many lies is she going to sell to patients and colleagues in the future. No one wants a dishonest health professional. Hope she learned her lesson good and hard!!

    • PeterA

      I for one agree with you. All pharmacists should know how to walk dogs and wash cars. If they don’t learn these valuable skills what kind of pharmacy advice could they give!

  6. Paul Sapardanis

    What is the percentage of students who after qualifying remain working as pharmacists? I wonder if working in retail pharmacy is what they expect it to be whilst they are studying. Be good to hear from a recent graduate

  7. bernardlou1

    Hi Everyone

    I can see how the intern is feeling. Some people under intense anxiety and stress, lack of support and mentorship, they behave irrationally. I am not defending the intern, however I’m looking at this situation from a mental health issue. If the intern wasn’t satisfied with the way she was treated, she should have spoken to her preceptor and chose to be honest, rather than taking the dishonest approach. The intern could have chosen to resign seeking to complete their hours elsewhere. What most pharmacists don’t realise is that pharmacy is a very close industry and everyone knows everyone.
    Sooner or later the true colors of everyone will shine through, it’s way easier to be honest than anything else. The intern should acknowledge their mistake and take the necessary step to fix it going forward.

  8. Jarrod McMaugh

    This is an interesting case, and the comments are interesting too.

    I would point out one thing – the details of this case as related here come from one source.

    I’d be interested to know if the preceptor feels that the representation of their supervision is accurate or not.

    I would point out that anyone who thinks that a preceptor should be providing an environment of “you need this more than I do, so do what I say, and feel lucky if you get clinical experience” needs to reconsider the purpose of internships.. and if you feel this way, please do not become a preceptor at any point.

    It’s also worth pointing out that even as a pharmacist with years of experience, I occasionally did odd jobs for my employer – it was a rarity but sometimes it’s nice to do something different and without consequence.

    In the instances given in this story, I wonder how often these things happened. Were they walking the dog and cleaning the car regularly? If so, that’s seriously inappropriate and should be followed up by the ITP provider. Was it a rarity, and perhaps asked as a favour rather than an expected role of the job? Perhaps still inappropriate in this context, but still a different situation.

    Regardless, it’s worth pointing out that we don’t have both sides of the story… and the side that we do have came from a person who forged signatures (perhaps as many as 20 to cover that many hours?) and lied about their experience, then practiced as a pharmacist when they were not.

    • Michael von Bornemann

      Very good points Jarrod, plus more than fair


    Excuse me but ‘FORCING’ a pharmacist intern to walk dogs and wash cars is not acceptable. It is certainly not expected of an intern or any staff member for that matter. That smacks of bullying. They are not slaves. This proves beyond doubt that pharmacists are becoming less and less valued.
    Forging signatures, however, is not justified and she should have just walked away. Which now she has done. To hopefully a better profession. In fact, I have it from a top industry source that more and more pharmacists are leaving (especially young ones). Im honestly not suprised. Good luck.

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