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Community pharmacists Kenny Lee and Toni Riley love their (very different) careers. Here’s why….

Pharmacy

This February we wanted to celebrate love not just on Valentine’s Day, but all month long. We asked pharmacists Dr Kenneth Lee (who we know as “Kenny”) and Toni Riley to tell us what they love about their careers. This is what they had to say… 

Dr Kenny Lee:

“I love the variety in my work. As an academic, community pharmacist, and avid volunteer for various professional organisations, my day-to-day tasks vary quite significantly. In 2017 alone, I had eight interstate work-related trips that ranged from trainings, meetings, and a conference. In between these trips, I taught students, worked on various research projects, worked as a pharmacist, and hosted a number of events. Ultimately, what I really love about my work is that I know that all the little things I do can collectively (and positively) impact the pharmacy profession.”

What was the first experience that made you realize that you love being a pharmacist? 
During my laboratory sessions on learning how to compound medications (within the first week of university), I knew pharmacy was the profession for me. I quickly got the impression from my teachers and tutors that pharmacists have a keen attention to detail, yet are caring of others; these qualities aligned with my personal characteristics and I instantly felt a sense of belonging. While most pharmacists these days don’t compound many medications, the attention to detail and the patient-centred approach to creating a tailored product for the patient can be transferred across to other areas of patient care.

What is the biggest struggle in having a job that is full of variety? 
Balance. When you’re given so many opportunities to do so many different things, it’s hard to say no, and it’s hard to know how much time is required for each task. Through experience, I’ve learnt to better manage my time, and to balance my work life with my personal life.

How do you inspire yourself to continue contributing positively to the pharmacy profession when you feel exhausted? 
Taking short breaks help, as well as surrounding yourself with passionate people. One of the reasons why I join various organisations/pharmacy-related groups is to surround myself with passionate people that inspire me to keep contributing to the profession.”

Toni Riley said:

Toni Riley“I love being a health professional because I have the opportunity to help people every day and enrich their lives. By informing people of the RUM initiative and the ways they can help the environment, I’m helping them to prevent their household from dangerous hazards and eliminate waste. I also love to be the project manager of one of the first initiatives that provides consumers with a free and convenient way to dispose of expired and unwanted medicines. I am very proud to be a part of an initiative that is making a difference and changing the attitudes of individuals!”

As a pharmacist, Toni loves being able to enrich people’s lives by interacting with people, getting to know them and discovering their health needs. Toni is very empathetic for someone’s needs and how she can help them. She always loves seeing someone walk away with a smile!

Now that she is project manager of the RUM project, Toni says it’s very interesting being at the intervening point in people’s lives and encouraging them to change an attitude. She loves when people tell her that they previously had no idea of how to dispose of medicines and it’s so rewarding to be able to provide them with a solution that is free and convenient.

Toni has been able to improve the quality of life of thousands of Australians, by informing them of the hazards in their home. Leaving expired or unwanted medicine can lead to accidental poisoning or misuse of medication, and it’s important to bring this issue to light in people’s lives. The most important aspect of the RUM initiative is changing the way people dispose of medicine. Previously, throwing medicine in the bin or down the drain was the norm, but this is really damaging to the environment. Toni wants people to know that the RUM initiative is here and it’s a sustainable and safe way to dispose medicine!”

About the contributors

Dr Kenny Lee is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Australia, and a practising community pharmacist. In his role at the university, he teaches and coordinates a pharmacy practice unit for first year Bachelor of Pharmacy students, as well as conducts a variety of research. Prior to this, Kenny worked as a lecturer at the University of Tasmania and a locum community pharmacist in several pharmacies across Western Australia. He is also the founder of the WA Pharmacists’ Discussion Forum, and OZ Pharm Updates. On Twitter, you can find @KennyPharmPhD and @OZ_PharmUpdates.

Toni Riley is a community Pharmacist and Project Manager of the Return Unwanted Medicines Initiative, a federal government funded initiative that provides all Australians with a free and convenient way to dispose of unwanted and expired household medicines by returning them to their local pharmacy. To find out more, visit http://www.returnmed.com.au/

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