Interview: Karlie Read, Western Australia PATY State winner
How did you get started in pharmacy?
As I prepared to graduate high school I knew I wasn’t interested in attending university. Instead, I started looking into full-time work, when I found a traineeship in pharmacy. I already had a Certificate II in Skin Care and Beauty, so I saw it as a great opportunity to get into health care. Being able to assist people on their journey to better healthcare was always something I wanted to be a part of. However, I still wanted the chance to use my makeup and skin care qualifications, so it was a really happy medium.
Can you give me a brief overview of your career in pharmacy?
I started my career as a Pharmacy Assistant with my previous employer but found there wasn’t any opportunity for growth. I moved to Terry White Pharmacy, (which is now Terry White Chemmart Rockingham) where I was able to enrol in and complete my Certificate III in Community Pharmacy.
What qualifications do you have?
I have a Certificate III in Community Pharmacy and a Certificate II in Retail Makeup and Skin Care which I earned part-time while completing high school.
How do you think training has benefited you in your career?
My Certificate II in Retail Makeup and Skin Care included some units in retail that were covered in the Certificate III in Community Pharmacy. I also had previous experience working in retail so it made the crossover into pharmacy an easy transition. I think having that basic understanding of customer service is really important for giving you the confidence to approach and assist customers.
My Certificate III in Community Pharmacy has helped me the most, as it’s given me the confidence to apply my health knowledge, without being totally product based. It allowed me to focus on the basics and even taught me the skills to handle customer complaints.
Tell us about your PATY experience so far?
Being part of PATY has been totally fantastic. It really doesn’t feel like a competition, especially during the workshop. It was a really positive environment, and great to meet so many other passionate pharmacy assistants. It was great to meet people from all over the state and hear about their experience in the pharmacy industry. It was refreshing to meet people who have the same passion and interest in community pharmacy, and know that we’re all there because we want to further our learning and education in the industry.
What was the workshop day like?
The workshop was fantastic, it was really relevant and informative yet relaxed. Kathy, the workshop facilitator, made everyone feel welcome and made us feel like we were a cohesive group working together.
It has made me feel more confident with the changes coming from the codeine up scheduling in February next year. I’m excited to take back the experience from the workshop and teach my staff, so we all feel prepared and confident in dealing with the transition.
The workshop was really focused on dealing with customers, and complaints. I thought it was extremely relevant because we don’t often get the chance to learn the best approach or response to customer issues. It was really great to experience this hands-on approach to customer resolution.
What were you most apprehensive about?
Being that it was my first workshop, I was so nervous that I was going to say or do the wrong thing. I have only been in pharmacy for five years and I really felt like I would be the new kid on the block. However, my experience was so different to that! It was such a welcoming community and everyone was so passionate, it was really refreshing. After a couple of minutes, all my nerves just washed away and I felt really empowered by the knowledge that I did have! I honestly felt like a sponge, just absorbing everything that I could!
What were you most excited for?
I wasn’t really sure what it meant to be nominated and I was really flattered that I was recognised. I guess I didn’t feel like I was particularly excelling in community pharmacy. When I got to the workshop, I was super excited to meet the other finalists, who had the same passion for community pharmacy. I was afraid that the workshop would be based on more clinical pharmacy knowledge but it was more proticol based, which was really fun and relaxed.
I’m most excited about meeting the other state finalists at the PA Conference on the Gold Coast in October. I thought that the finalists at the workshop in Perth were an incredible group of people so I can’t wait to meet the other finalists from around Australia. I really look forward to meeting the other men and women that are the best of the best in community pharmacy, and I mostly just want to learn from them.
Would you encourage others to participate in PATY in the future? Why?
I think it’s really important to nominate yourself or even just nominate someone else. The recognition is amazing, it’s such an honour to be recognised for your hard work. It’s also incredibly reassuring to know that you’re doing a good job and that your time is valuable to those you work with, and your customers.
I was totally blown away by the relevant knowledge at the workshop, and I really want to bring that back into the store. It has given me the confidence to change things in store. All in all, it’s been a really positive experience.
What do you hope to achieve?
I’m really looking forward to the public speaking training at the national workshop at the PA Conference in October. That’s a skill that I can take with me into any area of my professional or personal life. As well, the opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals from the Guild, sponsors and exhibitors is exciting.
What do you love about pharmacy?
I love that in my career, I’m able to help someone feel better. Whether that be with vitamins or pain management, sleep apnea, or diabetes. Everything that we do can have a massive impact on someones life, or wellbeing. A lot of people are comforted by our knowledge and that’s a really nice feeling. I think when you’re able to really help someone, and they are thankful, it really makes you feel vauled and it makes this profession really worth it, and really rewarding.
Although there is one national winner, it doesn’t feel like a competition. I feel so lucky to be able to represent WA and more than anything I feel so lucky to be involved.