Meet five award-winning pharmacists

South Australian Pharmacy Award winners. From left: Mikah Peterson MPS, Julian Soriano MPS, Kingsley Coulthard FPS, PSA SA Branch President Robyn Johns, Kylie Van Rooijen MPS and Lauren Fraser MPS.

A veteran of hospital pharmacy and an embedded aged care pharmacist were among those honoured at PSA’s South Australian Pharmacy Awards last week. 

The winners included Gold Medal recipient Mikah Peterson MPS, Intern Pharmacist of the Year Lauren Fraser MPS, Early Career Pharmacist of the Year Julian Soriano MPS, Pharmacist of the Year Kylie Van Rooijen MPS and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kingsley Coulthard FPS

Although at different stages of their careers, the recipients all had one thing in common: a commitment to go above and beyond to support the health and wellbeing of South Australians.

This includes Mr Coulthard, who decided to study pharmacy in the 1960s ‘because my best mate from high school did’ and has now dedicated half a century to the profession. 

He began his career at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital in 1971, working in paediatrics in Australia and overseas until his retirement as the Director of Pharmacy at the Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital in 2010.

Mr Coulthard, a member of the PSA SA/NT Branch Committee from 2014 to 2021, maintains an active role in the profession as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of South Australia and through involvement with the National Asthma Council and Asthma Australia.

‘[During my career] I have seen the expansion of hospital pharmacy services, in particular ward-based services, as well as community services such as HMRs and the integration of pharmacists into GP clinics and aged care,’ he said.

‘The things of which I am most proud include my contributions to paediatric therapeutics, especially cystic fibrosis, and the opportunity to be a mentor to some wonderful young pharmacists over many years.’

Mr Coulthard is also particularly passionate about rural pharmacy and said he would like to see the same funding incentives to attract pharmacists to the country as those that exist for GPs. 

‘We also need to make pharmacy a profession that attracts, retains and stimulates bright young graduates and pays them accordingly,’ he added.

Kylie Van Rooijen MPS

A credit to the community

Port Lincoln-based community pharmacist and educator, Ms Van Rooijen was awarded for her service to SA pharmacy over 30 years. 

She currently works in the Boston Bay Family Health Clinic, where she provides a range of services including medication reviews, advice and education, and liaison between the general practice, hospitals and community pharmacy.

The PSA’s SA Branch President Robyn Johns described Ms Van Rooijen as ‘a fierce advocate for equity in healthcare’ whose ‘commitment to furthering pharmacy practice in South Australia has been exceptional’.

‘Kylie also works at the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Centre, in a role she created for herself,’ Ms Johns said.

‘Determined to make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the impact she has had on their patients and practice has been significant, so-much-so that the clinic opted to keep her on 2 days a week.’

Julian Soriano MPS

Rising residential aged care star

As an embedded aged care pharmacist, ECP of the Year Julian Soriano has been at the forefront of establishing the critical role pharmacists can play in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). 

His work has been integral to securing $345.7 million in Federal Government funding to embed pharmacists in these facilities, which was announced last week.

Mr Soriano said he hoped the recognition would encourage other pharmacists and the wider community to learn more about the role of aged care pharmacists. 

‘It will be exciting to see how this role develops as more people become involved and the opportunities that open up as this model of practice becomes more commonplace,’ he said. 

‘I am really looking forward to seeing how the aged care funding will be used, and hopefully having an opportunity to have a voice in that process. Most of all, I look forward to working alongside other pharmacists in similar roles, as sharing knowledge and strategies will help to accelerate how we operate in RACFs.’

Starting strong

Both Intern of the Year Lauren Fraser and Gold Medal recipient Mikah Peterson have made contributions to the profession, despite being at the beginning of their careers. 

For Ms Peterson, this began before she even graduated from university. After clinical placements at Terrywhite Chemmart Christies Guild and Flinders Medical Centre, she took on an 8-week research project during her final year of study with the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network’s Medication Safety Committee. The project assessed nurses’ understanding of high-risk medicines, such as high dose insulin.

Ms Fraser was recognised for her commitment to patient care and initiative in service delivery.

Her internship was split between community pharmacy and research at the University of South Australia, which meant learning double the skills in half the time – all while dealing with the additional demands of the pandemic.

Rather than let this hold her back, Ms Fraser threw herself into her intern year, developing partnerships with groups including Sonder and Asthma Australia, and co-designing grant applications with both organisations to further pharmacy practice.

‘Being able to work with the incredible team at Terrywhite Chemmart Christies pharmacies and care for their patients one day, and work at the university on my research with the academics there the next has been an amazing experience,’ she said.

‘The most challenging aspect was learning the community pharmacist role in the space of 2 days a week and then alternating it with my own work at the university, all whilst COVID was very much still impacting our day-to-day lives. It was a very ambitious but rewarding year.’

Ms Fraser should soon complete her PhD at the University of South Australia. She plans to continue to work in community pharmacy and hopes to help expand professional services and advance pharmacy practice.

Did you attend the SA Pharmacy Awards? See if you can spot yourself in our photo gallery below.

PSA SA Pharmacy Awards