Behind the scenes: What it takes to be Guild Pharmacy of the Year

Date: 12 April 2023

When the wraps came off and the cheque for this year’s Guild Pharmacy of the Year (GPY) was presented, it wasn’t just a simple tick and flick in choosing the winner out of six stand out candidates.

Deciding which pharmacy is worthy of being named the best in the country takes months of arduous work, meticulous reviewing of each candidate and days of travel right around the country.

In fact, according to Nick Panayiaris, the Guild’s Senior National Vice President and a GPY judge, it’s 12 months of solid work.

“As soon as this year’s Pharmacy of the Year was announced, we were already working on next year’s planning,” he tells Forefront.

As well as Nick Panayiaris, the judging panel also includes Tania Parisi, representative from Care Pharmaceuticals who sponsor the competition and Michelle Bou-Samra, the chair of the Australasian College of Pharmacy (ACP).

Guild Pharmacy of the Year is selected from the winner of the following three categories:

  • Excellence in Professional Innovation
  • Excellence in Business Management and
  • Excellence in Community Engagement.

The cycle commences in June when nominations open for the competition. The last two years have seen nominations open to the general public, resulting in hundreds of nominations.

“Once all nominations have been received, collated and curated (we do have to curate because this year one pharmacy received 100 nominations), they are sent to our branches for their review and advice,” Panayiaris says.

Then once the nominations are in, Guild Public Relations Manager, Louise Monge informs the pharmacies they’ve been nominated and invites them to provide additional supporting evidence.

“It’s my role to go out to and say ‘congratulations, you’ve been nominated’, because in many cases they are not even aware they have been nominated and quite often it’s a lovely surprise,” she says.

This year the judges were given the added assistance of a video from each nominee, a prerequisite for entering the 2023 competition.

According to Nick Panayiaris, the video enabled judges to gain an insight of each pharmacy as part of the assessment process.

“It gave us a ‘look and feel’ for each pharmacy, to be introduced to their staff and highlight some of the services they provide to their local community.”

Once all supporting evidence has been received it’s time for the judges to review each nomination.

“They have a herculean task of reviewing every piece of documentation from potentially hundreds of nominations,” Nick Panayiaris says.

He says what is gold for any entrant is an ability to show their uniqueness in terms of the health services and relationships with their patients.

“Fundamentally, the judges are looking for what differentiates each nominated pharmacy in terms innovation, service delivery and engagement with their local community.”

Then it’s down to the culling process where we need to find six finalists from hundreds of entrants which involves a couple rounds of review and elimination.

“This is no rubber stamp process and a substantial amount of rigour is applied which benchmarks all applications against each other and then looks at those who sit over and above,” Panayiaris says.

Once the six finalists are decided they are notified and visiting the pharmacies is coordinated.

What follows next is a lot of travel to meet each of the finalists in their own pharmacy which can see the judges travelling just about anywhere in Australia.

“Last year for example we went from regional Victoria to far north Queensland and to regional Western Australia to find our overall winner,” says Panayiaris.

Once the travel has been completed, the judges have a final consultative meeting to discuss their findings of each of the finalists.

“It was a real challenge to select each category winner, let alone the overall winner.”

As we now know, this year’s Pharmacy of the Year went to Pharmacy 777 Shoalwater which also took out excellence in Community Engagement.

While Wholelife Pharmacy & Healthfoods Pease Street, Queensland won the Excellence in Business Management category and the Excellence in Professional Innovation Award went to Thursday Island Pharmacy, Queensland.

So we asked Nick Panayiaris what it takes to be the next Guild Pharmacy of the Year.

“Firstly you need to ask yourself as a Pharmacy what are you doing that differentiates your practice and provides a unique experience to meet the needs of your community” he said. “Then it’s a matter of showing, through good planning and  performance measures, how your model is sustainable and adding to the long term viability of that practice”.

If you think your Pharmacy has what it takes to be the 2024 Guild Pharmacy of the Year, nominations open in June.

These awards are proudly sponsored by Care Pharmaceuticals.

Contact: The Guild
Phone: 13GUILD

Page last updated on: 24 April 2023