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Career Paths for Pharmacists Becoming more Varied

Pharmacist Stephenie​ Shea says pharmacy is about much more than standing behind a counter, putting labels on medication bottles and dispensing them.

Pharmacists, according to Shea, offer consumers a range of healthcare support and service including blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, pharmacist vaccinations, health counselling and medication reviews.

“Customer relationships are rewarding for a pharmacist,” says Shea. “We make long-term relationships with elderly customers or customers who have chronic conditions because they’ll come to the pharmacy once or twice a month to get their prescriptions filled or because they need some medication.

“Pharmacists are one of the most accessible health professionals in the community.” Shea, an experienced pharmacist, is national professional services and pharmaceuticals manager at Discount Drug Stores, an Australian-owned discount pharmacy brand with about 150 stores nationwide.

Her main responsibilities include overseeing the professional services activity that takes place in Discount Drug Stores throughout the country, supporting pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to deliver in-store professional services, monitoring developments in government policy that can have significant implications for Discount Drug Stores’ operations, implementing health campaigns for the stores and talking with suppliers about how to best find products, such as prescription items, for stores.

“I need to read a lot of what goes on in the industry and in government policy, so that I am able to relay those messages to our stores,” says Shea.

Shea completed a bachelor of pharmacy at the University of Queensland in 2004.

After graduating, she completed a one-year internship at a community pharmacy and managed a pharmacy for seven years, before joining Discount Drugstores in 2014.

Today’s pharmacy professionals follow career pathways into numerous roles, including professional services pharmacists, pharmacist managers, medication management review pharmacists, general practice pharmacists and Aboriginal health service pharmacists.

In the white paper New Vision for Early Career Pharmacists that was released in July, one key recommendation was that new roles and models of practice are identified and proposed for the pharmacy profession.

Shea says she envisions the breadth of pharmacy careers in the profession will evolve.

“I believe that young pharmacists will have more opportunities in the future to work in different areas in pharmacy to broaden their expertise.”

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