Pharmacists: seize opportunities, don’t fear failure

community pharmacy

Dimitra Hoppe MPS is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother and daughter, and she juggles community pharmacy with four other job roles while studying for a doctorate in public health.

Why did you choose pharmacy?

I was born in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Hospital and 15 years later returned there to complete my Year 10 work experience. Working in the pharmacy department for 2 weeks I decided then and there on pharmacy. Why? The pharmacists who worked at Queen Vic seemed so kind and caring and I wanted to work with people like that. (I also wanted to be one of those people myself). There was no looking back.

Then what happened?

I began in hospital pharmacy but have been in community pharmacy since I was 18. I’ve also worked at the same Mount Waverley pharmacy for 25 years. Why? Because caring and kind people surround me!

Your resumé includes pharmacy work in government departments, consultancy services, and, most recently, research assistant and Managing Editor for an academic journal.

Yes, I’m also a research assistant for La Trobe University. I enjoy the diversity of my different job roles. On any given day I can consult with leading state regulatory authorities, facilitate intern training and review academic manuscripts.

Every day is different. I find this galvanising. It keeps me grounded and intensely focused on what I am working on at that moment. It is inspiring and I am beyond appreciative that a career in pharmacy has led me down this path.

You’ve also been in hospital communications, fundraising, voluntary counselling and been published in several genres. Is there a novel on pharmacy in your future?

My masters thesis was 30,000 words long, about the same size as a novella, so perhaps I have it in me to write more. I’m still waiting for that million-dollar idea to emerge.

Recently, I self-published a book based on my father’s life. He grew up in a Greek village during World War II. The time spent hearing my father’s stories was precious, not to mention that mum generously bottles my olives and feeds me in return. Dad has started working on more memories for a sequel! As my PhD studies continue on a pharmacy practice-related topic still to be confirmed, there will be plenty of writing.

How has COVID-19 changed your ways of working as a pharmacist?

The same as many other community pharmacists – managing the sometimes unpredictable nature of stock availability, and more phone calls, emails and faxed prescriptions to action.

There are ongoing challenges in keeping up with the latest and overwhelmingly large amounts of information, not only related to public health but the role of community pharmacy in dealing with pandemic-related issues. This includes a directive from the Department of Health and Human Services about the current research developments on using dexamethasone to treat the virus, and its potential on stock availability. In our workplace we have had no cases.

What insights have all these roles brought that ECPs, for instance, could use to their benefit?

Some of my favourite pharmacists are ECPs. I always learn so much from them!

Dear ECPs, if you are offered an opportunity to try something different and it excites you but also strikes you as implausible in some way, whether you feel you won’t succeed or for some other nagging reason, don’t turn your back (at least not straight away).

If you can take up the challenge without your life falling apart, give it a go. Also, don’t fear rejection and don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve failed over and over, and I’m still here (and smiling).