Jacqueline Meyer MPS is a pharmacy mentor, lactation consultant and fine children’s cake maker. Meet the 2023 Queensland Pharmacist of the Year.
Why choose pharmacy?
As a Monash University graduate, one of my first important decisions was accepting a job as an intern pharmacist in Ararat, south-west Victoria, where I previously completed a rural placement. I felt an overwhelming connection with my preceptor, Jason Hosemans. He mentored me in staff and business management, and allowed me to introduce a new first aid service in the pharmacy, which resulted in successful business growth and customer satisfaction. After my intern year, he mentored me through the PSA Diploma of Management and recommended me for a promotion to a nearby pharmacy in Warrnambool.
Thrown into a busy sink-or-swim situation, leading a large team and working 12-hour days, 7 days a week, I swam as fast as I could and quickly became very experienced. Knowing ownership was always on the cards, I joined Queensland’s LiveLife Group, moving over 2,000 kilometres north for the second-most important opportunity decision of my career.
What sparked your special interest in infant nutrition?
My start to motherhood came with a multitude of complications, resulting in the premature birth of my daughter at 28 weeks gestation at the micro-premature size of 500 grams. The world of the neonatal critical care unit (NCCU) is not something you hear much about. For 12 weeks I stayed by my daughter’s bedside. I had been exclusively pumping, so by the time she reached special care and was learning how to breastfeed the emotion and anticipation that came next was unparalleled.
The hospital’s lactation consultants did a brilliant job helping women throughout the NCCU and special care navigate their way into breastfeeding. The relationships I formed with these ladies and what I learned made me feel fortunate for the support and guidance during this difficult situation.
Pharmacy is the same. We form relationships with our patients, and help with their medicine and healthcare needs – often in times of despair and distress. That got me thinking that I could do more for women who need breastfeeding help like me, and my pharmacy was a perfect place to do so. Not only do we offer additional knowledge in general breastfeeding counselling, we also provide private consultations where women can feel comfortable to discuss their breastfeeding concerns.
As a mentor to many, what is most enjoyable about it?
Without question, seeing the mindset change, maturation and development from student to responsible pharmacist. I’ve had an intern pharmacist every year of my registered pharmacist career, and watching another person grow into a competent health professional under your guidance is one of the most rewarding experiences. There’s nothing my mentees don’t do. We service a rural community with all aspects of Pharmacy Program Administrator services, as well as provide services for the local private hospital and palliative care hospice.
I expose my mentees to all aspects of learning through our personally developed training plans, ensuring competencies in every domain. In addition, I teach them the importance of relationships. This includes connecting with consumers on a deeper level based on empathy and understanding, as well as developing relationships with themselves, team members, and the wider health community. One great way to showcase the benefits of strong interpersonal and interprofessional relationships is through the community health expo I run annually.
Why is it important to help foster the next generation of pharmacists?
Helping the next generation develop clinical skills, while offering guidance and life skills to give them a good start is important. My mentees now work hospital roles, women’s health, management, and men’s sexual health clinics. The majority have progressed to community pharmacy ownership.
It’s all about instilling positive experiences in young pharmacists and showing them how rewarding our profession can be.