A lifetime of service

Bill Kelly

Col. (Rtd) Bill Kelly has received PSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to advancing pharmacy practice.

The honour comes after a diverse career spanning more than 50 years, including 33 years’ military service and serving as an inaugural member and then Chair of the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

A distinguished career

Col. Kelly was conscripted to the armed forces in 1967, but by the time he would have been considered for deployment, Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War had ceased.

Instead he was offered a posting to the ANZUK Military Hospital in Changi, Singapore.

‘When they offered me that I thought “well I might stay in for a little while longer”,’ he said.

In fact, it was another 33 years before Col. Kelly finally left the military.

‘I got out with the rank of full colonel after 21 years of regular service and another 12 years in the Army Reserve,’ he said.

‘That was unbelievable considering young recruit Kelly who gingerly went into the military in the 60s.’

Over the course of his military career, Col. Kelly completed defence cooperation projects in the Philippines and commanded the unit responsible for supplying medical and dental stores for overseas armed forces. 

‘It seemed unreal – here’s this pharmacist running a huge supply company,’ Col. Kelly recalled.

‘But I found throughout my career that pharmacy seems to set you up to do all sorts of things.’

Col. Kelly also held the positions of Army Chief Pharmacist, Consultant Pharmacist to the Surgeon General for the Australian Defence Force, and he chaired the International Quadripartite Working Party on Health Service Support.

Civilian life

After leaving the regular army, Col. Kelly joined the PSA as Assistant Director, Professional Development. He then held a range of senior management positions, culminating in the role of PSA Deputy CEO. 

‘I was involved very closely in the development of a number of educational initiatives, some of which are still going today,’ he said.

‘I also converted the newsletter of the Australian Pharmacist into the monthly journal you read today.’

Col. Kelly has served on the PSA ACT Branch Committee since its inception, and currently holds the position of Vice President.

 By 2003, Col. Kelly was appointed CEO of the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy (AACP).

‘There I tried to make their lot better in life – they now have a more robust accreditation process and increased recognition,’ he said.

Finally, Col. Kelly was appointed to the inaugural Pharmacy Board of Australia (PharmBA) as a practitioner member in 2009 and chair in 2015.

‘To me, that was just the pinnacle – a great end to my career,’ Col. Kelly said.

Bright future

Col. Kelly is now encouraging today’s pharmacists to embrace opportunities that come their way.

‘You’ll get some naysayers out there saying the profession is dead, but it’s not,’ he said.

‘My message to the young group is there’s some really, really interesting things happening in pharmacy now – the emphasis on trying to utilise the training and expertise of pharmacists better, and enhanced scope of practice into areas like immunisation, minor illness, and prescribing options.’

He also encouraged pharmacists not to be constrained by traditional practice.

‘Pharmacists can be involved and contribute in any number of areas. My career started off semi-clinical, then got into logistics, management, regulation,’ he said.

‘There are limitless opportunities – you’ve just got to have your eyes open, take the chances and you’ll be surprised what’s out there.’