2018 QLD Pharmacy Assistant of the Year

Blog Post

Date: 9 October 2018

Julie Gagliardi from Hope Island Chempro Chemist

1.What was your reaction when they called your name as the QLD State Winner?

I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked that they actually chose me. There were so many awesome pharmacy assistants there. Everyone is equal. Everybody’s on the same page. We all care about our jobs. We’re all passionate about our customers and we’re passionate about our jobs. I’m overwhelmed!

2.How did you first get into pharmacy? Can you give me a brief overview of your career in pharmacy?

I’ve been in pharmacy for eight years. My husband and I had our own business. We ran it for 13 years and sold it. I was sitting at home doing nothing and it was terrible. I was bored at home. I need to be around people and interact - I need to get some work. I saw a job for a pharmacy assistant advertised in the local newspaper and I thought ‘I can do that - I’ve had four kids, I know what I’m doing and that’ll be easy!’ I went to the interview and got the job. I started on the first day and nearly died but I just went from there. I decided I enjoyed the challenge and basically wasn’t going to let it beat me.

3.How do you think training has benefited you in your career?

It gave me an insight into asking questions on medications people are wanting. It enabled me to open up further in that questioning, and be able to offer medications or other products that are consistent with their conditions as well. That opens up and builds a trust where people can see that you are actually interested and want to help them. It creates a goodwill between yourself and the customer. When codeine was being upscheduled, the training I have  enabled me to offer alternatives and other things to assist customers. That was the biggest impact for me – it encouraged me to have conversations.  

4.What are your career goals?

I love what I do and I’m very happy with what I’m doing. My career aspirations at this stage are to have more training to assist me in what I currently do in the pharmacy. I am interested in anything to assist with the growth of the industry and the growth of the business. Anything you can do at store level to have the customer return to you and increase the understanding and appreciation of community pharmacy – including what all pharmacists and pharmacy staff do to assist and protect patients -  is so important and will be a benefit to all pharmacies.

5.Tell us about your PATY experience so far?

It was awesome! I was so nervous when my husband drove me to the train station. I couldn’t sleep the night before. When I got to the State Workshop, I was so nervous, as were all the other participants. But as they day went on, it was great. The judges were fantastic. Kathy the facilitator was brilliant. It enabled me to open up and say what I felt when I thought it was relevant and to have a say. It was far better than I could have ever imagined it could have been. It was brilliant.

6.What was the workshop day like? What did you enjoy the most about the day?

The whole lot. Right from the moment I first walked into the door in the morning. You can’t fault any of it. From the beginning to when we finished at the end of the night, everybody was just wonderful. Meeting Claire (last year’s winner) was fantastic. I’ve connected with her and she’s going to give me some tips which I feel like I’ll really need! Prior to me being involved in this, you read the little captions and stories and you think oh yeah sure, but when you are actually a part of it, it’s completely different and it’s great.

7.Would you encourage others to participate in PATY in the future? Why?

Absolutely! When you are on the ground and in the store, you can get caught up in the mindset that it’s just a job and it’s just whatever. But to reach out and connect with like-minded people is fantastic. It’s necessary and we’re necessary. The more training pharmacy assistants do is only going to help make us more relevant. I’ve told all the girls at work about it and it wouldn’t have been possible for me to receive this award had I not worked with such a brilliant team. It’s really not just my award. For me, it’s for my whole team because if they didn’t let me grow and put up with my craziness and my enthusiasm to help people, then I would just be caged. I wouldn’t be able to soar.

8.What have you gained for PATY so far?

We are actually more relevant than we give ourselves credit for. We are not only working in a retail outlet but we offer a community service. At the moment, I have three customers whose partners are undergoing life changing cancer treatment and for each of them, whether they just pop in because they want a smile and a wave, the fact that you can make a difference in their lives when they are going through something so awful is amazing. The fact is that we are relevant and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. The PATY experience makes you realise that you really are an important part of the community and that you are relevant.  

9.Why would you encourage a person to nominate someone or themselves for PATY?

I would encourage anyone to nominate someone who they believe is deserving of such recognition and appreciation for their hard work and passion. I believe it is important to give them the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and celebrate their achievements.

10.What would you like to see change in pharmacy?

We are important and we have to fight to stay as an independent entity. We can’t go into supermarkets and we can’t be devalued. We are a valuated service to the community and we can’t afford to be devalued and stuck on a shelf in supermarkets.

11.What do you love about pharmacy?

It’s a unique way to connect with the community. Whether it’s people coming in because they just found out they are pregnant or they’ve just had a new baby and they are so excited in their lives, or it’s someone who’s come in and they’ve received the worst of news, you are helping them through that situation with their medication and everything. The day to day impact you can have on people’s lives is just so amazing. It’s life changing.

Who will be the 2018 National Pharmacy Assistant of the Year? Support your State Winner Julie at the Pharmacy Assistant National Conference on 25-27 October 2018 at Sea World Resort, Gold Coast. Meet and learn from all of the State Winners on how they became the ‘best of the best’ during the Q&A session on 26 October. Then witness who will be announced as the National Winner at the Conference Dinner that night!

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Page last updated 09 October 2018