The credentialed collaborator

The ACT Pharmacist of the Year Kirstin Turner MPS has forged a non-traditional, speciality role that is ideal for her life.

Why did you choose pharmacy?

Since I was a teenager I have wanted to become a pharmacist. I believed that it would combine my love for medicine with opportunities to contribute to the health of people in the community as well as allow me to have endless career opportunities. And it has done exactly that. 

I completed a Bachelor of Pharmacy and was awarded the Academic Medal for bachelor coursework at James Cook University in Townsville in 2008 where I interned at a local community pharmacy through the PSA intern program until registering as a pharmacist in 2009. 

Did you follow the traditional community/hospital pharmacy route? 

I worked in community pharmacy for a decade until 2019. In that time, I worked as an intern pharmacist, front-of-shop pharmacist and as pharmacist in charge within QLD, WA, and the ACT. I have always enjoyed being a pharmacist, however felt something was always missing; that I didn’t quite belong within the community setting. I found it difficult to incorporate my credentialed pharmacist, credentialed diabetes educator and GP pharmacist work within my community pharmacy roles over the years. 

In 2019 I was given the opportunity to extend my position as a GP Pharmacist and made the leap to leave community pharmacy so I could build up my own career path to ensure I had job mobility, stability, and flexibility all the while maintaining professional satisfaction. And again, no regrets. 

Which of your specialties came first? 

I became a Credentialed Pharmacist through the PSA course in 2010. Interested in diabetes and chronic disease management through the Home Medicines Reviews I was undertaking at the time, I then became a Credentialed Diabetes Educator, starting my study after the birth of my first child. I completed my credentialing while in hospital after the birth of my second child in 2016. 

In 2018, I was offered an opportunity to participate in phase 2 of the Pharmacists in GP Practice Program and continued in that role for more than 5 years – and continue now, just in my own way. 

With your varied specialisations, how have you managed a work/life balance with two young children? 

I am fortunate that as a pharmacist, I have been able to incorporate all my specialties into my daily practice where I can work as part of a healthcare team and improve the health outcomes of people within the community without restriction. Working for myself has allowed me to have the flexibility for the work/life balance my young family requires. Health care never stops and working independently has allowed me the flexibility to work late nights, weekends, make after-hours phone calls to GPs or patients, and even sneak off during a scouts camp to find mobile reception to finish a report. I can also do research or attend an online meeting, all the while making sure I can still attend my children’s activities and appointments. As they grow, I envisage that my role will also grow and I will never be short on work opportunities, hopefully. 

How did you get into mentoring younger pharmacists? 

I kind of fell into mentoring. As a very approachable and accommodating person, I’ve been mentoring pharmacists ever since I was registered, and it is something that I absolutely love! I mentor pharmacists at any stage of their career and under any circumstance – newly registered pharmacists, university students, prospective Credentialed Diabetes Educators or GP pharmacists and others who are just curious about what I do. 

I have lost count as I do it formally through ADEA for CDE accreditation and informally by allowing myself to be contactable by any pharmacist via any means – for an on-off discussion or as a long-term professional contact. I just wish that I had the same mentor access when I was starting out. 

Any advice for ECPs? 

Find a mentor in the career pathway that interests you. Be open to accept mistakes and grow, welcome feedback, set goals, ask for help, grow your professional network, and identify your strengths and interests to develop your own career path.

8.30 am Get sorted

Drop kids at before-school care. Pack bags and Home Medicines Review (HMR) schedules, usually 2 per day. Organise referrals for three diabetes education patients, seen at my home clinic room or alongside HMRs.

9.00 am Administration

Triple check calendar, send out recalls and confirmations for appointments tomorrow, and contact recipients of referrals.

10.00 am HMR/diabetes education home visit

Drive to see woman, 80, recently moved from a regional area to the ACT. New GP requires a medicine reconciliation and patient history for multiple diagnoses, including diabetes, asthma, gout, retinopathy, hypertension, microalbuminuria, back pain and osteoarthritis. Records from previous GP not sent. Medicine reconciliation identifies three missing medicines (aspirin, furosemide, and an iron supplement). Significant drug-related problems identified include:
(1) metformin (1,000 mg tds) and pioglitazone (45 mg once daily) over recommended dose for current renal function and well-controlled diabetes
(2) triple whammy (perindopril, furosemide and celecoxib)
(3) non-adherence to inhalers
(4) no indication for furosemide, aspirin or paracetamol and codeine phosphate hemihydrate (Panadeine Forte)
(5) adverse effects of fluid retention, oedema, constipation and GI bleeding noted.

Urgent contact was made with the GP who implemented recommended changes immediately. HMR report issued and patient was booked for follow-up reviews. While patient was willing to make changes, she was surprised so many problems had been identified with the apparent ‘set and forget’ medicine regimen.

2–5.00 pm Referrals, appointments, emails

Referrals received for HMRs and diabetes education contacted for appointments. Write reports, check emails for mentoring or potential work or educational opportunities

5.00 pm Home time

Collect kids for extracurricular engagements. After dinner – write reports, mentor, etc.