Victorian pharmacists recognised for excellence

PSA Victoria State Manager Stefanie Johnson, Pharmacist of the Year Dimitra Hoppe and PSA Vic President John Jackson.

The PSA Victorian branch has announced the state’s Pharmacist of the Year, ECP of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award winners and more

A number of Victorian pharmacists have been honoured as part of the state’s PSA Excellence Awards for 2020.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions there was no ceremony held, with all six recipients receiving their awards from PSA Victorian President John Jackson at their respective workplaces on Monday.

Dimitra Hoppe was named Pharmacist of the Year for 2020.

“I feel like this award is not just recognition for me but all those who surround me including employers, my colleagues and all the pharmacists I have had the opportunity to work with along the way,” said Ms Hoppe, an accomplished pharmacist in community, hospital and consultant pharmacy.

Ms Hoppe is also a researcher and PhD candidate at La Trobe University.

Esa Chen and John Jackson.

“I have been lucky enough to work with some terrific people across a diverse number of roles and this award is as much of a reflection on them as it is me,” she said.

Esa Chen was recognised as Early Career Pharmacist of the Year for 2020. Ms Chen is a PhD candidate at Monash University, researching medication regimen simplification for older people.

“It has been an incredibly difficult year for Victorians,” she told AJP. “I’m so proud of all the Victorian pharmacists, especially ECPs, who worked through the lockdowns to keep our community safe.

“To be recognised this year, when we were all ‘healthcare heroes’, was a great surprise. It’s nice feedback that makes me want to think bigger!”

John Jackson presenting the Victorian Pharmacist Medal to Dimitra Tsucalas.

She says her current goals are to advocate for the ECP voice; contribute to developing future leaders; support more diversity in pharmacy representation; and work towards seeing pharmacists in aged care.

Meanwhile Dimitra Tsucalas from Ascot Vale Supercare Pharmacy received the Victorian Pharmacist Medal.

Valerie Constable and John Ware OAM were recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ms Constable, who was the first female president of the PSA Victorian branch, told AJP she is “very honoured and flattered” by the recognition.

She was also the founder of the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) in 1995, listing this as the highlight of her career.

“I’ve really enjoyed my life as a pharmacist, I’m really delighted that I’ve been recognised in this way,” she said of her 63 years in the profession.

PSS was a very necessary service, definitely needed and I am really very proud of that – probably what I’m most proud of.

“But it’s the work of the volunteers that is so essential, they do an amazing job, it’s not easy but it’s certainly worthwhile.”

Valeria Constable receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from John Jackson.

PSA Victorian President John Jackson congratulated Ms Constable, who he described as “a leadership role model and mentor for many women in pharmacy”.

“She was instrumental in the establishment of the PSS, and through that role has provided great assistance to those pharmacists who have faced stress through their workplace. She’s in many ways a self-deprecating individual who demonstrates great leadership and compassion,” said Mr Jackson.

John Ware OAM told AJP that while he has been recognised with a number of awards in his lifetime, “none has given me any greater pleasure than this one”.

Mr Ware, who has previously served as PSA Victorian president as well as PSA national president, is one of only a handful of Australians to have been awarded a Fellowship of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

He described his leadership roles with the PSA as the highlights of his career.

“When you’re recognised by local colleagues it really gives you a great deal of satisfaction, more than many others,” he said.

Mr Jackson said: “John’s leadership has been demonstrated both in Australia at the Victorian and national levels but also internationally.  He was the inaugural president of the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum and assisted pharmacists in many countries in our region though that role.”

Finally Jarrad Walker was named Intern Pharmacist of the Year. Mr Walker works at Chemist Discount Centre Craigieburn and is a graduate of RMIT.

Mr Jackson congratulated all the winners for their “significant contribution to the profession throughout this year and their careers”.

“We are incredibly blessed as a profession to have people in the latter stages of their career who have demonstrated leadership, but also those at the early stages of their career demonstrating fantastic enthusiasm for the profession,” he told AJP.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise all Victorian pharmacists for their dedication and professionalism throughout 2020.”

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