Outstanding pharmacists honoured

PSA's 2021 Excellence Award winners
PSA's 2021 Excellence Award winners

The recipients of PSA’s 2021 Excellence Awards may represent different generations, locations and areas of pharmacy practice, but they have one thing in common: a desire to provide the best possible care to the community. 

Announced during a virtual ceremony sponsored by Vitaris on the eve of World Pharmacists Day, the awards recognise some of Australia’s outstanding pharmacists for their professionalism and excellence in pharmacy. 

The PSA National Vice President Renae Beardmore commended the winners for their excellence in and devotion to their work.

‘These pharmacists are exemplars to the profession and maintained the highest standards of commitment and professionalism – and I congratulate them on their outstanding efforts over the past 12 months, particularly in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,’ she said.

‘You have all stepped up when your patients and communities have needed you the most. You have had to contend with public panic, anxiety, constantly changing regulations, medicine shortages and unfortunately in some cases, abusive behaviour. On behalf of the PSA and Australia, I thank you.’

Meet the winners

MIMS Intern Pharmacist of the Year award went to Canberra-based Erin Cooper, who showed great leadership during her intern year.

Not only did she guide her peers as the National Pharmacy Students Association President, she did it while dealing with bushfires and, later, the pandemic. Ms Cooper also found the time to give back, authoring NAPSA’s Intern Guide for 2020 Pharmacy Graduates, which helps pharmacy students across the country prepare for one of the most important years of their career.

‘It’s pretty exciting to know that what I’ve done, not only in my workplace, but through all my leadership activities during my intern year, has not only improved my role as a pharmacist, but obviously had an impact on others around me – and it’s really lovely to be acknowledged for that,’ Ms Cooper said. 

Symbion Early Career Pharmacist of the Year was awarded to Tasmania’s Maria Berbecaru. Just 3 years out of university, Ms Berbecaru made history by implementing an Australian-first aged care pharmacy service.

Through her work as an embedded clinical pharmacist at a residential aged care facility, Ms  Berbecaru makes a measurable difference to patients’ lives. She is responsible for coordinating quarterly psychotropic medicines reviews, swallowing assessments for medication administration and has developed collaborative arrangements with general practitioners, including participation on rounds.

Ms Berbecaru hopes her example will inspire others.

‘Our vulnerable, older population in residential aged care facilities are at significantly higher risk of medication-related harm compared to other members of our society,’ she said. ‘So with the right support, the right guidance and a sustainable funding model in place, embedded residential clinical pharmacists will become the norm.’

An unwavering commitment to her community earned New South Wales south coast pharmacist and pharmacy owner Linda Badewtiz-Dodd the title of PSA Symbion Pharmacist of the Year.

From producing the world’s first comprehensive guide to drugs in sport to supporting her town through bushfires, and now the pandemic, Ms Badewitz-Dodd has shown she is always willing to step up to the challenge.

Her Merimbula pharmacy provides a wide range of services, including medication reviews, sleep apnoea services and vaccinations, and team members pride themselves on offering high-quality care.

‘I’m just a pharmacist doing my thing, for my community and my customers – that’s what I do and that’s what a pharmacist is,’ Ms Ms Badewitz-Dodd said.

‘As a profession, we need to all step up. We need to all be providing a service that is part of an integrated healthcare model. Collaborating with other health professionals and other allied health professionals is where we need to be if want to stay in this space.’

The PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said Ms Badewitz-Dodd exemplified the extraordinary effort pharmacists make to provide the public with access to healthcare when they need it most.

‘Linda puts the community first in everything she does, and I know she will not let anything get in the way of that,’ he said.

Two pharmacists with a combined 103 years of experience were the joint recipients of the PSA Symbion Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first female President of PSA’s Victorian Branch, Valerie Constable dedicated more than three decades to the profession, both as a community pharmacist and owner alongside her husband Bob, and in leadership and mentoring roles. 

She also established the Pharmacists Support Service, taking all the calls from pharmacists, interns and students during its first 2 years of operation. 

The late John Ware OAM, who died in December aged 92, was recognised alongside Ms Constable. 

Mr Ware held a number of leadership roles during his 40-year pharmacy career, including National President of PSA, PSA Victorian Branch President, President of the Australian College of Pharmacy Practice and Chair of the Faculty Council of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University.

He was also one of only a small number of Australians to have been awarded a Fellowship of the International Pharmaceutical Federation.

A/Prof Freeman said both recipients had ‘a tremendous impact on the profession’.

‘Val has been a trailblazer, forging the path for women in the profession to follow. She has been a mentor to many pharmacists and has made substantial gains for pharmacist involvement in respiratory care,’ he said.

‘John demonstrated sustained dedication to the pharmacy profession and was a driving force in the development and expansion of the role of the pharmacist in Australia.’

Celebrating World Pharmacists Day

As well as tuning into the Excellence Awards livestream, pharmacists across the country came out in force on social media to celebrate World Pharmacists Day. 

Tapping into the theme ‘Pharmacists: always trusted for your health’, pharmacists showcased the ways they care for patients and their love of the profession.

Here are some of our favourite moments from the day.