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08/19/2021

Pharmacy Leader Dr Sarah Dineen-Griffin: "Young pharmacists are stepping up as leaders, carving out innovative paths and advocating for the profession."

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Dr. Sarah Dineen-Griffin

Snapshot

·       Vice Chair of the International Pharmaceutical Federation New Generation of Pharmaceutical Scientists Group, and International Pharmaceutical Federation Young Pharmacists Group Community Pharmacy Section Liaison

·       Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia NSW Branch

·       Chair of the Early Career Pharmacist Group for the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia NSW Branch

·       Member of the National Self-Care Policy Advisory group and the Athena SWAN (Women in

Science) Advisory Panel at Charles Sturt University

·       Member of the Australian National Medicines Policy Review Committee

·       Lecturer in Health Management and Leadership at Charles Sturt University in Australia

 

Looking at your career, what are you the proudest of? 

Undertaking a PhD was definitely the most challenging aspect of my career, and probably what I am most proud of. My PhD research was focused on the role of the pharmacist in self-care and evaluating the impact of triaging services in community pharmacies for minor health disorders. During this time, I learnt that research is central to providing high-quality, evidence-based care and services – it can influence policy and extend models for clinical practice that are highly impactful and financially sustainable. Combined with this is becoming a mum and working towards my ambitions in academia.

What excites you about being a pharmacist? 

The pharmacy profession is becoming increasingly diverse. As an example, recent data have shown that pharmacists in Australia are now predominantly young (with 5-10 years’ experience) and female. Pharmacists under the age of 35 account for more than 40% of the workforce, and almost two-thirds of the profession are female. In the 16 years I have been involved in pharmacy, and particularly in the last few years, I have seen a change in the ‘traditional role’ of the pharmacist, an appetite for pharmacists to expand into new roles and be increasingly recognised as integral members of the primary care team. Young pharmacists are stepping up as leaders, carving out innovative paths and advocating for the profession, so the opportunity to raise the bar and optimise the role of pharmacists as health-care providers is what excites me most.

As a leader in pharmacy, what continues to drive you? 

What drives me in my leadership roles is ensuring:  

  • Pharmacists are aware of the avenues they can take in their career. A 2020 report published by Professional Pharmacists Australia revealed that wages and lack of recognition have had a negative effect on pharmacists’ morale – with only 28% of community pharmacists willing to recommend pharmacy as a career. My hope is that we can engage with those at risk of feeling disconnected or isolated in the profession. Early career pharmacists are the future of our profession, so we must listen, retain, and engage these young professionals.  
  • Consumers’ and other health professionals recognise and value the role of pharmacists and the vital contribution made by pharmacists in improving patient outcomes. And, that this is reflected in wages.
  • Integration of the pharmacy workforce into the broader health system to address the significant concerns brought to light through the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the vaccine hesitancy we have witnessed, as well as collaboratively tackling wider health inequalities.
  • Gender diversity and inclusion within the pharmaceutical workforce. 

How important was mentoring in your career? 

I have had and continue to have mentors who have been instrumental in guiding and supporting me throughout my career. These mentoring relationships have been important in my professional development, particularly during transitions into new roles and leadership positions. If you’ve been lucky enough to have one or several great mentors during your career, you know that you likely wouldn’t be where you are today without them...finding a female mentor who is an experienced leader by day and mother by night, who understands the challenges associated with balancing the responsibilities of a growing professional and family woman. 

 What do you think needs to happen to have more women in executive roles across various sectors in the profession? 

The International Pharmaceutical Federation predicts that in 2030, 71% of pharmacists will be female. Women are increasingly moving into leadership roles. Since becoming a mother, I’ve gained a greater understanding of the barriers and challenges for women (with family and child-rearing responsibilities) to progress into and maintain pharmacy leadership positions. It’s not just pharmacy - this is evident across the whole health workforce and there must be a collective endeavour in all industries to do better.  

What advice would you give to new female pharmacy graduates?

Experience pharmacy in as many different areas and roles when starting out, find an area of interest or passion and pursue it. This may include (but is not limited to) training the next generation of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, scholarly work to advance our field with the generation of new knowledge, the management and delivery of clinical trials of new medicines or pharmaceutical services, the provision of advice to government on pharmaceutical policy, and in the defence forces. Young pharmacists are certainly leading the way when it comes to diversifying and moving into new roles and pushing boundaries. For example, pharmacists are working in general practice, aged care, and Aboriginal health centres. They are diversifying in community pharmacy through the offering of professional services, in mental health, men’s health, vaccinations, triage and minor ailments, just to name a few. There are endless opportunities….

 

 

 

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