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Beyond a label: Liam Nguyen’s pharmacy journey

7 May 2017

Liam Nguyen in front of sandstone building

Liam Nguyen. Photo by: Shane Lo

This story is an edited version of an original UTS:Newsroom story published here.

  • Liam Nguyen, one of the first Master of Pharmacy graduates from UTS, credits much of his success to the people and practical approach to study offered by the university
  • He says the almost 500 hours of clinical placements and another 90 hours of virtual community and hospital placements in the simulated pharmacy and hospital rooms on campus, gave him a competitive edge

Recent Master of Pharmacy graduate Liam Nguyen has been fascinated with medicines since a young age.

“When I was younger, I liked rearranging the medicine cabinet and I didn't know why. I thought it was really unusual how this little white pill could go into your body and save your life.”

Years later, Nguyen is now living out his childhood dream of working in healthcare, with a UTS Master of Pharmacy degree under his belt.

In his early 20s, Nguyen left a Bachelor of Pharmacy for a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science in Canberra. Armed with an undergraduate degree and experience working in community pharmacies, Nguyen was attracted to UTS’s Master of Pharmacy and its practical approach to study.

“They were saying, ‘We'll prepare you for a career in hospital, industry or community depending on what you want’. I found that really attractive,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen’s arrival at UTS coincided with the opening of the university’s state-of-the-art Science and Graduate School of Health building. But he attributes his success to the people at UTS.

“A lot of my success is due to Cherie,” says Nguyen of his Clinical Practice Subject Coordinator Cherie Lucas. “She really pushed me out of my comfort zone.

“In the beginning, I didn't realise that I'd actually become a hospital pharmacist. I thought community pharmacy like everyone else because hospital was so competitive.”

But, Nguyen says, undertaking almost 500 hours of clinical placements and another 90 hours of virtual community and hospital placements in the simulated pharmacy and hospital rooms on campus, gave him a competitive edge.  Nguyen also completed a four week rural placement as a pharmacist in Grafton Base Hospital, where he gained experience in Aboriginal health, working closely with the hospital’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner.

Since finishing his degree last year, Nguyen has been interning full-time at the Sydney Eye and Hand Hospital. He is now preparing for his written and oral exams in June this year. It’s the final frontier in his nine-year journey to becoming a registered pharmacist.

 “My goal is to eventually become an antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist. The extensive overuse of anti-infective agents in healthcare means resistance is rapidly developing to the most commonly used drugs.

“A lot of people think that all pharmacists can do is label medications on a computer. But, there's actually so much going through our minds when we first see a script: What interactions might occur for this patient? What allergies do they have? What side-effects would put them most at risk?

“Ensuring the quality use of medicines and patient safety; they’re the two most important goals of a pharmacist.”

Study pharmacy at UTS