Amanda Mackay

A determination to extend her knowledge has broadened Amanda Mackay’s horizons in unexpected ways. The Master of Pharmaceutical Public Health graduate had an 11-year gap between completing her Bachelor of Pharmacy and starting postgraduate studies.Portrait of Amanda Mackay

“My advice would be to dip your toe in the water and experience what it’s like to study again,” she said. “Embrace the opportunity and ask questions if you’re not sure about something. Work through it because it is really rewarding.”

Amanda started studying the Master of Pharmaceutical Public Health in mid-2011 and graduated at the end of 2016.

“For me, I just had young children and I was working at the hospital and I felt like I needed to extend myself further,” she said. “From a pharmacist’s perspective, the Master of Pharmaceutical Public Health is something a bit different and extremely applicable to both hospital and community practice. I also liked that the Masters could all be done externally through coursework.”

Studying externally offered Amanda flexibility, as well as access to support if needed. Amanda said the lecturers were extremely approachable and on the other end of the line if she had any queries.

“If I had any questions they were quickly answered,” she said. “Even though I was an external student, I felt I could easily contact my lecturers through email or a phone call.”

Amanda puts her academic success down to having a goal and being organised. She completed one subject per semester and used the breaks to go over the next subject’s content.

“I really enjoyed being able to work at my own pace and in my own time,” she said. “I received most of the subject content for the whole semester early so I could start ahead of time. I spread it out like that so I could also work while having young children.”

The Master of Pharmaceutical Public Health offered Amanda the opportunity to study a range of different topics, from management to chronic disease. She enjoyed that the content was relevant and applicable to her work.

“I found it related directly back to my work and I was able to look at my work from a different perspective because of it,” Amanda said. “When you practice pharmacy, you tend to focus on a single patient, while looking at pharmaceutical public health you are looking at the community as a whole.”

Amanda said the Master of Pharmaceutical Public Health would be a great course for experienced pharmacists who are looking for a challenge.

“This course would be ideal for pretty much anyone who has had at least a couple of years’ experience working as a pharmacist,” she said. “It’s for anyone who wants to extend themselves and give themselves an extra challenge and increase their knowledge.”

Amanda is still at JCU, but no longer as a student. As well as working part-time as a palliative care pharmacist at Townsville Hospital, she is lecturing part-time to Bachelor of Pharmacy students.

“This is a different career path from what I was expecting,” she said. “It is great to have that opportunity to do that part-time and work at the hospital part-time. I enjoy still keeping a hand in clinical work as it aids in keeping my knowledge applicable, which helps when I’m teaching my students.”

Amanda is enjoying her career, but has not ruled out returning to study.

“I’m really satisfied with where my career is at this point,” she said. “Eventually, I would like to go on and do a PhD, but that is much later down the track.”