Pharmacists recognised for excellence

The PSA recognised outstanding pharmacists at its 2024 South Australia and Northern Territory Excellence Awards in Adelaide over the weekend.

The Excellence Awards recognise local pharmacists involved in innovative practice, those who are striving to raise practice standards, and those who, through their professionalism, provide a model of practice which others seek to emulate.

PSA SA/NT President Dr Manya Angley FPS congratulated the award recipients.

‘The passion and dedication of pharmacists across South Australia and the Northern Territory is clear. It’s our pleasure to recognise some of them tonight on behalf of the PSA,’ she said.

‘[They] exemplify the highest level of pharmacy practice, from embracing every early career opportunity to driving positive rural health outcomes through to a lifetime of professional excellence.’​

Here are the outstanding SA/NT pharmacists who were recognised in this year’s awards.

PSA SA/NT Pharmacist of the Year Natasha Downing MPS

Natasha Downing MPS, SA/NT Pharmacist of the Year

Natasha Downing is a proud South Australian rural woman. She was born and spent her childhood in Jamestown, SA. After a high school education in Adelaide and completing her university studies, she returned to the area where she has been a community pharmacist since 2007. She has a deep commitment to ensuring all those who call the mid-North of South Australia their home can achieve best possible health outcomes.

Since her credentialing in 2015, Ms Downing has seized every opportunity to advance the integration of pharmacists across service delivery in the wider region. As a local, she has a deep understanding of her patients’ journeys and needs. She came to the attention of the Goyder’s Line Medical Practice through her high-quality medication reviews (HMRs and RMMRs), and community pharmacist roles. She was then welcomed to the general practice team through a PHN-funded Pharmacist in GP practice opportunity.

Across all her roles, Ms Downing connects well with patients from all walks of life and delivers the same respectful, caring, flexible and high-quality service to all. She goes above and beyond to meet the needs of patients and ensure they use their medicines optimally while considering the broader context of their healthcare. These skills are best applied in her palliative care role, an extremely challenging time for both the patient and their loved ones, where she ensures her patients can express choice and maintain dignity and comfort.

Ms Downing is both a trail blazer and a quiet achiever within the profession. She is an exceptional role model, especially for rural women, and exemplifies PSA’s mission to embed, equip and enable pharmacists to be at the forefront of healthcare in Australia.

PSA SA/NT ECP of the Year Raymond Truong MPS

Raymond Truong MPS, SA/NT Early Career Pharmacist of the Year

​ECP Raymond Truong is a fierce advocate and true leader, with a particular focus on supporting and elevating the voices of young pharmacists.

Mr Truong is deeply committed to promoting opportunities for ECPs across all practice settings.

He has been an active PSA member since 2016 and has taken full advantage of the leadership and mentoring opportunities on offer, including membership of the SA/NT PSA ECP working group committee in 2021.

Mr Truong joined the ECP Communities of Special Interest Leadership Committee in 2023. In the same year, he became the ECP representative on the SA/NT Branch Committee. He enthusiastically volunteers to represent the SA/NT Branch to showcase its strengths and build interdisciplinary relationships with other professional groups – including presenting at interprofessional collaboration events between pharmacists and dentists (2021, 2023) and podiatric prescribers (2023).

In his community pharmacy roles, Mr Truong has driven vaccination services, administration of other medicines by injection and a broad range of other advanced professional services. He is a COVID-19 vaccination provider, influenza and whooping cough, a Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence service provider, and has played a key role in integration of professional services including B12 administration, Take-Home Naloxone, MS-2 dispensing, and expansion of vaccination services in his practice.

He has also held the position of Pharmacist Manager at Terry White Chemmart Paragon (Modbury), and is currently Professional Services Community Pharmacist at Terry White Chemmart Findon and a community pharmacist at Chemist King, Klemzig.

Mr Truong was elected Chair of SA General Practice Pharmacist Peer Network – a Community of Practice of primary care pharmacists.

In October 2023, he became credentialed to conduct medication management reviews and established a private consultancy, Pill Box Education Services. Mr Truong has commenced conducting HMRs and regularly conducts RMMRs at Pennwood Village Aged Care Home, as well as actively participating in Medicines Advisory Committee meetings in preparation to take on a role as an on-site aged care pharmacist when this program rolls out.

PSA SA/NT Intern of the YearChloe Hall MPS

Chloe Hall MPS, SA/NT Intern Pharmacist of the Year

Chloe Hall’s intern year has been a case study in the power of self-belief. She started her intern year with plenty of fundamental skills and a desire to achieve, but maybe a little self-doubt. As the weeks went by, she continued to extend herself beyond her comfort zone, leading training, embracing opportunities for complex conversations with patients, collaborating with doctors and conducting new pharmacy services.

The more she did these activities, the more evident were her abilities. As she came to quietly recognise this herself, Ms Hall’s practice leapt to an exceptional level. By the end of her internship, the quality of her work, initiative, knowledge and skills made Ms Hall the pharmacist that patients were asking for and to whom more experienced pharmacists would consult and confer with.

PSA SA/NT Lifetime Achievment Award recipient Peter Halstead FPS

Peter Halstead FPS, SA/NT Lifetime Achievement Award

Over his 40-year long career, Peter Halstead has made a sustained contribution to the pharmacy profession and associated organisations, dedicating himself to developing and advancing Australian pharmacy practice. Through these activities, Peter has made a significant contribution to patient care. He has been an advisor, mentor and friend to many members of our profession and epitomises the values of PSA.

After graduating in 1980, Mr Halstead worked as a community pharmacist and was instrumental in developing new areas of practice, becoming a pharmacist adviser to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Drug and Alcohol Services and The Family Planning Unit at SHINE SA.

In 1996, Peter joined the School of Pharmacy as a research fellow involved with Professor Andy Gilbert and others in the development of new pharmacist roles, particularly in the area of aged care services.

Between 2000–2001, Mr Halstead was the Education Officer of the Pharmacy Board of South Australia. From 2001–2010, he was the Registrar of the Board, a position he held with distinction until the formation of the National Pharmacy Board. During his tenure, Mr Halstead developed and implemented systems and procedures that allowed the formal assessment of the competency of recent graduates and others seeking registration as pharmacists in SA.

Mr Halstead was a Director of the Australian Pharmacy Council from 1996–2010, and since 2010 has been the Senior Pharmacist for the APC involved in the development of assessment processes for intern pharmacists as well as pharmacists from overseas seeking registration with the National Pharmacy Board. He actively supported many overseas pharmacists who were going through the formal process of seeking registration and became a mentor to many.

Mr Halstead was appointed as the General Manager of the Pharmacy Regulation Authority, South Australia (PRASA) in 2010, a position he held for 12 years until his recent retirement. During this period, he continued to engage with the Pharmacy Board of Australia on many issues affecting Australian pharmacy practice. 

Pharmaceutical Society Gold Medal recipient Amelia Thompson

Exceptional student recognised

The PSA also awarded the Pharmaceutical Society Gold Medal, recognising the University of South Australia student with the highest grade point average in the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) above 6.25.

Given the stringent criteria, PSA’s most prestigious student award is not awarded every year. Recipient Amelia Thompson joins a very impressive and select group of pharmacists.