The neurosciences specialist


Finding his niche in neuroscience, the Alfred Hospital’s Julian Ellis MPS, is championing brain-related disease management in all facets of pharmacy.

How did you wind up in Melbourne and in a hospital role?

As part of my post-graduate Doctor of Pharmacy program, I wanted to experience a different healthcare system from Canada’s. I was fortunate enough to do my final clinical rotation at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Once fully registered here, a position came up at the Alfred Hospital. I have loved practising pharmacy in Australia and have decided to make it home.

Where did your passion for neurology pharmacy come from?

I have long found brain and brain-related diseases fascinating. In my past roles, I have provided smoking cessation counselling to recent stroke survivors, compounded alternative dosage forms for children with genetic neurological conditions, and worked on medicine compliance strategies for epilepsy or dementia.

What aspects of your job most benefit patients or have had demonstrable effects?

Having pharmacists on ward rounds and making clinical interventions at the point of decision-making is of huge benefit. My team has worked hard to ensure our stroke patients are discharged with appropriate antithrombotic, antihypertensive and lipid-lowering plans. Based on 2019 data, only 2.6% patients of Alfred patients had a recurrent stroke at the 145-day follow-up, compared to the national average of 4.3%.

Is your career trajectory for everyone or is there a better route for young pharmacists?

I have worked in hospital pharmacy, primary-care practices and community pharmacy. There is definitely a more direct route for people who know they want to specialise in hospital practice. But I’d suggest being open to opportunities.

Is hospital pharmacy the only way for pharmacists to specialise in neurology?

Hospital pharmacy is a great opportunity to specialise in neurology. However, much can be done in all settings for patients with neurological conditions. I work very closely with my patients’ community pharmacist so that they can understand what follow-up is needed. Community pharmacists can do some really amazing specialised work through their clinical services.

Where would you like your career to go?

I would love to end up either researching or working in clinical design to improve the efficiency of our health system and outcomes for patients.

Is it important to keep fit in pharmacy?

Absolutely! As a stroke pharmacist, I see the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Mental fitness is just as important. Burnout in healthcare is a serious issue that we’re only starting to discuss. I love to explore the great hiking trails in Victoria for both my physical and mental wellbeing.

A day in the life of Julian Ellis,
Senior Neurosciences Hospital Pharmacist

8:00 am: Administrative tasks

Arrive at work and plan my day. Check my team’s roster, see how many new patients each team has and respond to emails.

8:30 am: New patient admissions

See new patients admitted overnight and document a best-possible medication history.

9:00 am: Ward round

Work with my medical team to review medical history and clinical status so I can make recommendations. One HIV patient has presented with an ischemic stroke. The team wants to start him on atorvastatin 80mg daily. I realise one of his anti-retroviral medicines is a strong CYP 3A4 inhibitor. I recommend rosuvastatin for its lower interaction potential. I minimise risk of statin toxicity and ensure my patient gets good secondary stroke-prevention therapy.

11:00 am: Clinical teaching

Training – using case-based reviews on clinical topics – for pharmacy residents, junior pharmacists and interns in my clinical team.

1:00 pm: Patient counselling, drug therapy monitoring and discharge planning

Educate patients on medicines, monitor and adjust warfarin, vancomycin and aminoglycoside doses, prepare discharge prescriptions, lead smoking cessation counselling, prepare anti-epileptic titration schedules and complete patients’ discharge summaries.

4:00 pm: Management duties

Time for performance management, rostering, imprest stock reviews and finance reports.

5:00 pm: Academic administration

Back home for a few hours of work on curriculum development and clinical articles.

Further resources

Want to find out more about different career pathways for pharmacists? Visit