Rather than be overwhelmed by COVID-19, Wint Ye Ywe Phu used social media to help pharmacy interns feel connected.
Finding herself as an intern in the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years was the challenge confronting Wint Ye Ywe Phu in 2020.
The former avid traveller who photographed her travels around Western Australia, and vlogged about adventures in Singapore, Taiwan and her native Myanmar, is now interning at Market City Pharmacy in the Perth suburb of Canning Vale. She graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Master of Pharmacy last year.
‘For me, 2020 has definitely been a challenging year. I was adapting to my first year of full-time work, studies, assignments, then faced isolation from friends and family,’ she says.
‘On top of that I was dealing, for the first time, with the great variety of personalities who presented at my local community pharmacy during the COVID-19 period, which was life changing for everyone.
‘I imagine my fellow interns were, like me, almost overwhelmed by the changes taking place in pharmacy as a result.’
Using Facebook to connect
Rather than be overwhelmed, Ms Phu stepped forward to help others, selecting social media as the way forward.
‘My pharmacist and I came up with an idea to use social media to not only help me but also my fellow interns get through this pandemic together. We wanted them to feel connected,’ she explains.
‘We created a group called “Mindful Pharmacist Campfire” on Facebook. We committed to upload a new informative video each day. I worked my way through the top 100 drugs in 100 days.
‘I was fortunate to have my mentor’s support. We wanted to bring together pharmacy students, pharmacy interns, and even pharmacists themselves, during this stressful period, so we would all not feel as if we were alone.’
Her pharmacy intern colleagues gave Ms Phu great feedback, and soon it became a daily activity that was ‘enjoyable and also informative’.
Benefits of social media
Ms Phu’s ‘Campfire’ project brought her recognition from other interns and the wider pharmacy community.
‘Being recognised for something I enjoyed doing was definitely very pleasurable for me,’ she says. ‘The benefits of using social media to communicate were something that shone through during the crisis.
‘Having seen how effective it can be, I would hope – for my future in pharmacy – to be able to innovate and adapt social media using whatever resources I have available to close up some gaps in the healthcare community. After all, times are always changing.’
Passion for learning
During her time at Canning Vale, Ms Phu has developed a passion for community pharmacy.
‘I have always been told by my seniors not to feel as if I needed to have mastered everything by the time I graduated,’ she says, ‘and that there would always be learning opportunities. It is true!
‘I have learnt so much during my internship. I am definitely overwhelmed to be awarded the title of “Intern of the Year” and I honestly still don’t know where [pharmacy] will take me. But I am willing to try out the different roles and responsibilities pharmacy has to offer.’
Ms Phu loves listening to the stories of the people she meets through her work in the pharmacy.
‘I strongly believe in the ability of everyone to access the same level of healthcare, and that the removal of barriers will be the game changer in the healthcare system.
‘I work in a district where there are diverse cultures, so there are language, cultural, physical and other barriers. If we are able to overcome them, we as pharmacists can continue to contribute much more to society.
‘I do look forward to more changes in pharmacy because, after all, this is only the start of my career.
What change in pharmacy in the past 2 years were you most excited about?
The recent shift from paper-based prescriptions to electronic scripts. It not only saves the time normally used to dispense scripts and reduces potential errors, it could potentially change the look and feel of pharmacies and improve health outcomes for all patients.
What action in PSA’s Pharmacists in 2023 report is the most important to be realised?
Action 8 stood out to me. To generate more funding into this field is to recognise the value and quality of pharmacist care. Pharmacists have always been on the front line of our healthcare and available for clients to access. Funding to place them in a position where they can be directly involved in the healthcare system, and at the same time offer more funded services, will be beneficial for all stakeholders.
Explore new paths at www.psa.org.au/career-and-support/career-pathways/