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.
DAY IN THE LIFE
Explore new paths at www.psa.org.au/careerpathways