Intern training program success story

Matthew Syrnyk MPS
Matthew Syrnyk MPS

Originally from Canada, science graduate Matthew Syrnyk MPS swapped his lab coat for a pharmacy jacket after moving to Australia. He finished PSA’s Intern Training Program in 2019 and hasn’t looked back.

What led you to pharmacy?

I began my academic career in 2010 in Saskatchewan, Canada, when I attended the University of Regina to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in chemistry.

While I enjoyed science concepts and laboratory work, I always wanted to find a way to use my knowledge to benefit the broader community.

My partner, who is now my wife, went on to move to Australia to study medicine. She suggested I exchange my laboratory coat for a pharmacy jacket, and eventually I did. I began studying pharmacy in 2015 at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. Fast forward to 2020, and I am a community pharmacist currently applying to become a permanent resident of Australia. I have been on a big journey so far in my pharmacy career, but I have enjoyed every single moment of the adventure.

What is your impression so far?

Pharmacy is a welcoming profession. I was nervous initially about how well my introverted nature would adapt to a profession that is so community focused. I am eternally grateful for the patience of my mentors, preceptors and colleagues who have helped me develop confidence and the communication skills a community pharmacist must possess.

Being an early career community pharmacist during the COVID-19 pandemic has also been challenging, as the humanity of our patients is on full display.

I view this as a positive experience, as it has allowed me to become more empathetic and foster a more trusting relationship with my patients.

What did you find most useful about PSA’s Intern Training Program?

It allowed me to make a seamless transition from university to community pharmacy practice. The face-to-face workshops really improved my confidence in completing the Pharmacy Board exams and helped me develop into a well-rounded community pharmacist. I also found the staff at PSA very accommodating in helping interns with their assessments and navigating the complexities of the exams.

Plus there are plenty of resources available, including online access to eMIMS, eTG and the invaluable Self Care cards that help students with primary care/over-the-counter requests. There is currently free immunisation training, which will be incredibly useful in 2021, [given we now have] a vaccination for COVID-19.

What direction would you like your career to take?

In 2021, I anticipate completing my Home Medicines Review Stage II accreditation course. I am also interested in working in general practice and aged care settings within Townsville, to provide medication reviews and to promote the quality use of medicines.

While the clinical role of a pharmacist will always entice me, my ultimate goal is to own a service-based community pharmacy, often termed a ‘health hub’. I want to operate a pharmacy where my team can take a holistic, health solutions-based approach to patient care, and ensure that medicine safety is at the forefront of every encounter.

I also hope to get into a role that allows me to advocate for pharmacists to work to their full scope of practice. I believe there should be more opportunities for vaccinations outside of the pharmacy, more minor ailments services and more prescribing opportunities similar to the recent UTIPP-Q trial.

Pharmacists have a wide range of clinical knowledge, and now is the time to use this to provide more easily accessible services for patients.

What is your best advice for very new ECPs?

Embrace expected changes in community pharmacy and don’t be afraid to advocate for them.

There has never been a better time to begin a pharmacy career, and our patients need us now, more than ever before.

These times may be challenging, but also remember that challenges are opportunities to learn, grow and develop resilience. In the end, our patients will benefit and our career prospects will be limitless.

of Matthew Syrnyk MPS, pharmacist in charge, Priceline

10.00 am – The day begins

Handover with opening and manager pharmacists. Check multiple dose administration aids. Notice cardiology referral for a complex patient for which furosemide dose was changed, perindopril ceased and irbesartan started. Identified patient for a potential MedsCheck.

12.00 pm – Clinical intervention

Peak time at the dispensary, which has an automated dispensing system. Assist by checking prescriptions and counselling/discussing medicines with patients. One patient on prazosin and silodosin complained of dizziness when standing. Noted both are from the same drug class and called patient’s doctor, who confirmed the prazosin was meant to be ceased previously. Recorded this clinical intervention and discussed a plan to wean patient off prazosin.

2.00 pm – Workflow meeting

Meet with pharmacist manager to discuss workflow around introduction of electronic prescriptions. Suggest ideas including a scanner at scripts-in counter to input QR codes into MedView Flow, and to create colour-coded e-script tags that indicate the type of prescription dispensed. Patient would then be introduced to the pharmacist, who would promptly dispense prescription and educate patient on benefits of electronic prescriptions.

4.30 pm – MedsCheck and e-script training

Completed MedsCheck with DAA patient (above). Patient educated about difference between ACE inhibitor and ARB, and the change in furosemide dosage. Implemented electronic prescriptions training with students and technicians on evening shift to ensure seamless transition.

7.30 pm – Irregular request

At closing, a patient presented with right-sided eye pain requesting Systane eye drops for dry eye. Although tired, I noted this irregular request, with red flags including acute onset, severe eye pain and pain only in one eye for referral. Patient referred to the Townsville University Hospital Emergency Department. On return the next day, the patient thanked me for referral diligence for what turned out to be acute closed angle glaucoma.

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