I often tell the story of The Starfish, the Little Boy and the Old Man. This is one of my favourite childhood stories, adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley.
An old man was walking on the beach one morning. On this particular morning, the beach was littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, as a big storm had passed through the previous night.
Up ahead he could see someone moving and as he got closer, he saw that it was a young boy, picking up starfish and gently throwing them back into the ocean, one at a time.
‘Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?’ he asked as he approached. ‘The sun is up, and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back in the ocean, they will die,’ replied the young boy.
‘But, do you not realise there are many miles of beach and thousands of starfish? I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much difference.
The young boy listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. He turned, smiled and said, ‘It made a difference for that one!’
I am sure you can see where I am going with this story. We are all that little boy, and our patients, clients, students or even the communities and health system we are serving are the thousands of starfish. It can often feel overwhelming when we are trying to do so much, for so many.
Often, a key element that determines success, is the ability to see the positive in every situation and capitalise on that as your opportunity to make a positive impact. In the same situation, one person might see obstacles, but another will see opportunity.
My message to you all is this: be the one that sees the opportunity. Our roles as pharmacists are constantly evolving, whether its changes to pharmacy regulations or new medicines entering the Australian market, or, as we’re seeing now, conversations around pharmacist scope of practice. The recent federal government announcement to reform Medicare is our opportunity to cement pharmacists’ roles in primary care.
It’s an exciting time to be a pharmacist – COVID-19 has helped bring attention to the impact that we can make in health care. These opportunities have created momentum for our profession. We are making a huge difference in each and every one of our patients’ lives – every single day.
And as our scope of practice evolves, we have the opportunity to have an even bigger impact on all of them.