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A journey across states in the pursuit of pharmacy

Written By

Nicolette Ward


College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

16 December 2021

Related Study Areas

Hailing from Bunbury

Hailing from the southwest regional town of Bunbury in Western Australia, Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) 2021 graduating student Patrick Wright made the move to Townsville to commence his studies four years ago.

“The pharmacy program at JCU has a good reputation that I heard about and I thought it would be interesting to move somewhere new and different to what I was used to. Living in on-campus accommodation for the first two years also really helped with the move to somewhere unknown as it was a great way to make new friends, with lots of social activities and sports available.”

Patrick Wright
Patrick Wright on placement at a community pharmacy
Patrick Wright on placement during his Pharmacy degree

In the 2021 graduating class, Patrick has followed his passion for travelling and will be starting an internship next year in hospital pharmacy at Launceston in Tasmania.

“I’m happy to move around the country a bit while I develop my career and I’m really excited to be starting my internship at Launceston General Hospital. Being a regional centre, Launceston has quite a sizable hospital, but it still allows you to have a more hands-on approach from an intern’s point of view, as compared to major city centres.”

During his course at JCU, Patrick completed various placements in hospital pharmacy at Townsville, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast which further developed his interests in this broad and diverse area of pharmacy practice.

“There are just so many specialisations you can do in hospital pharmacy, and it was great to be able to get a lot of exposure to them all during my various student placements.

“For my third-year placement at Townsville University Hospital, they rotated us through a different area each day including the dispensary, as well as a medical ward and a surgical ward.

“And then in fourth year I completed a placement at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. I spent the first week in the medical assessment and planning unit where I got to do a lot of clinical reviews and counseling patients on their new medications as well. Then for my week in the surgical ward, I was in the maxillofacial unit which was really interesting.

“I also got to do morning ward rounds with the acute pain services team which consists of a medical consultant, specialist nurses and perioperative pharmacists. They go throughout the hospital checking up on any patients who are having complex acute pain and basically make sure that they're prescribed the most effective pain control possible which can range into some really interesting uses of medicines. I then spent some time on the ward dealing with acute and chronic liver failure and also on a general medical ward where I got to observe how the pharmacists prioritized their workload in such a busy environment.”

Although it’s early days yet, Patrick already has some ideas of what speciality areas of hospital pharmacy he is most interested in.

“I have some particular interests already in cardiac and oncology pharmacy, as well as infectious diseases. Cardiac pharmacy includes things like high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as the more serious conditions of heart attacks and heart failure, so it’s an interesting mix of chronic disease management as well as acute medicine.

“Oncology pharmacy is also an interesting area to work in as pharmacists have quite an important role in optimizing medications for patients suffering from cancer. It’s also really rewarding work helping cancer patients because as pharmacists we have such an important role in terms of educating patients about their medicines and chemotherapy treatments. There's actually a lot medicines that pharmacists can use as an addition to chemotherapy to help reduce some of those harsh side effects, so you get to really see the impact of your role on patient healthcare.

“And then I’m also interested in the pharmacy required to manage infectious diseases which can include some of the more unusual kinds of antibiotics for those weird, tropical infections you might come across once in a blue moon.”

While a student at JCU, Patrick also worked in the on-campus retail pharmacy as an assistant which he says helped him put into practice the educational interactions that pharmacists often have with their customers. These skills also helped him to become a Queensland finalist in the Pharmacy Student of the Year competition.

“Working in a small, retail pharmacy means I was able to get a lot of hands-on experience in helping customers and talking with them about their ailments, which is what pharmacists call ‘over-the-counter prescribing’ and which also forms a part of what we study in our pharmacy degree. I have also just finished up my final student placement at a community pharmacy in Port Douglas which due to its location in a popular tourist destination, also offered an ear-check service for holidaymakers having problems with their ears after swimming.

“My counselling skills also saw me become a finalist in the Queensland Pharmacy Student of the Year award, which is a competition where we are given the opportunity to demonstrate our counselling skills by role-playing a pharmacy scenario with a customer that requires us to use both our clinical knowledge and communication skills. For example, we have to determine what condition the patient was requesting a product for, whether it was a suitable option for their condition, and also take into account the patient’s medical conditions and other medications.”

Patrick was also awarded the Bachelor of Pharmacy 2021 graduating student valedictorian award, for his achievement of highest overall GPA score.

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