A long-term on-site aged care pharmacist

Egyptian-trained Kirolos Wasef MPS began his aged care specialty during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and loves his role.

Tell us about your career path?

I am an accredited and certified geriatric pharmacist with 20 years’ experience in community pharmacy, consultancy and the aged care sector. After moving to Australia 15 years ago and completing the Australian Pharmacy Council process for registration, I spent my intern year in rural Griffith, New South Wales, and moved to Canberra in 2009.

For 10 years I was a pharmacist in charge of a community pharmacy at Gungahlin, then moved to work with a Medication Management Review (MMR) provider. I also worked as a general practice pharmacist before the move to Goodwin Aged Care Services. I always enjoyed helping older people, which was a major factor in my moving to aged care.

Why choose aged care to specialise in? 

In 2019, I completed my Geriatric Pharmacy Certificate from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties, which strengthened my knowledge of geriatric medicine. 

In 2020, after working as a consultant pharmacist servicing multiple aged care facilities across ACT and NSW, I decided to challenge myself by working as a full-time on-site pharmacist across Goodwin’s residential aged care facilities (RACFs), three in Canberra and one in NSW

What shocked you when you first started in aged care at Goodwin? 

I was surprised by the quality of service offered. The food offered to residents is of restaurant quality. All staff are doing their best to improve the residents’ experience.

How did you adjust to this new speciality? 

The qualities a pharmacist needs in this role are flexibility and a willingness to learn new skills. My role consists of clinical activities (e.g. medication reviews, attending case conferences, audits and organising immunisations for our staff and residents), operational activities (e.g. implementation and maintenance of the eNRMC and electronic S8 register), educational activities (staff training, presenting in residents’ meetings), and governance activities (e.g. chairing the Medication Advisory Committee and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee). Listening to and advocating for residents is my most important task in this role.

What helped you prepare for the role in aged care?

A combination of everything in my pharmacist experience over the 2 decades. My wide experience, studying geriatric pharmacy, getting my accreditation and my passion for helping older people.

What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started in aged care? 

An educational or mentoring program to guide me through the aged care world would have been useful.

Mentoring is very important to achieve the best outcomes. Government funding on-site pharmacists in aged care is a great support for this important role.

Goodwin was the first aged care provider in Australia to employ a full- time on-site pharmacist during a trial in 2018, so the role is very new for the pharmacy profession.

Any advice to pharmacists considering an on-site aged care role? 

Moving to this role at Goodwin was the best decision of my career.

It is very rewarding. If you like clinical work and helping people, aged care is your place.