Innovative pharmacists honoured at annual awards ceremony
Kayla Lee was inspired to make positive change in her community after the tragedy of losing her father when he took his own life. She saw a gap in the way pharmacists discussed mental health and devised Pharmafriend to fill it.
Pharmafriend is a novel program that was implemented 12 months ago at Capital Chemist Wanniassa and fundamentally changes the way pharmacists interact with patients. Its creator, Kayla Lee, was recognised for her contribution last night at the UTS Innovative Pharmacist of the Year Awards in Sydney, when she won the top prize. She wins a medal, $5,000 towards further professional development and the opportunity to share her innovation with the rest of the profession.
Now in its sixth year, the Award is sponsored by AstraZeneca, and recognises an individual or team that shares UTS’s passion for embracing innovation and implementing professional services in pharmacy.
The award was presented by the Hon. Rob Stokes, Minister for Education, during a gala dinner at Parliament House. Minister Stokes highlighted the importance of recognising those who are trailblazing innovative new approaches to pharmacy. “Innovative practices adopted by pharmacists today will immeasurably improve health outcomes for the patients of tomorrow. Innovation is the foundation of pharmaceutical progress – and we are very fortunate to have universities such as UTS – and pharmacists such as Kayla Lee – as exemplars of excellence right here in NSW,” he says.
Innovation is the foundation of pharmaceutical progress – and we are very fortunate to have universities such as UTS – and pharmacists such as Kayla Lee – as exemplars of excellence right here in NSW.
Hon. Rob Stokes, Minister for Education
Lee was thrilled to receive the award and says that Pharmafriend is an easy to implement, up-scalable program that she hopes to see in every pharmacy across Australia. “Pharmafriend utilises a combination of psychoeducation resources, that are freely available through various organisations, and a selection of leaflets and information packs that I have developed. These resources could be easily replicated,” she says.
“We do not charge our patients for Pharmafriend consultations and interestingly, consultations often result in patients not taking or purchasing the prescribed medication because they feel able to make a more informed decision about their health. For me, it isn’t about the dollar value, it’s about the return custom and loyalty to my pharmacy because of the support and time we have given to that patient,” she continues.
Lee says she plans to use the award to travel to Canada to experience the work their community pharmacies are doing in the mental health area so she can further expand Pharmafriend in Australia. “My big dream is to see community pharmacies become mental health hubs providing support to everyone in the community.”
In addition to the overall winner, five Pharmacy students were selected to receive awards for their dedication to their studies. Head of Discipline for Pharmacy, Kylie Williams, who presented the student awards, says she is very proud of all the student winners and runners-up. “The standard and quality of our students this year is unsurpassed. I congratulate all the winners and look forward to following their careers in the future,” she says.
Haneen Al khthir received the PSA first year prize for academic excellence and says she was happy to receive this award. “I feel so proud. I am from Iraq and not long ago I was a refugee living in Jordan without knowing what my future will be. Now, here I am, winning this award despite all the struggles that I have faced,” she says.
I feel so proud. I am from Iraq and not long ago I was a refugee living in Jordan without knowing what my future will be. Now, here I am, winning this award despite all the struggles that I have faced.
Haneen Al khthir, Master of Pharmacy (Coursework) Student
“UTS has supported me not only educationally but also financially through their Diversity Access Scholarship and I feel so grateful. No matter what your background is, you are respected and loved here.”
Shohana Rahman is in the second and final year of her Master of Pharmacy and was selected to receive an award for her outstanding academic performance in the Professional Streams subjects.
“Professional Services has always been one of my favourite subjects, so to receive an award for it, is incredible. It has motivated me to work harder, to embrace my strengths and I am very grateful to all the UTS Pharmacy academics and staff members for their ongoing support and guidance,” she says.
The other student recipients included Ellen South, Jessica Jose and Daniel Barnaby for their outstanding work throughout the year. Head of School for the Graduate School of Health, Professor Charlie Benrimoj, says he was very impressed with the high quality of the nominations this year and extends his huge congratulates to all the winners.
“Kayla Lee’s innovative Pharmafriend program epitomises what this award is all about and is well-deserved. The commitment our students demonstrate towards their work and future is also inspirational. Innovation is the cornerstone of pharmacy and the Graduate School of Health is proud to recognise the outstanding contributions of those in this critical profession,” he says.