Victoria’s outstanding pharmacists recognised

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is proud to announce the recipients of its 2023 Victorian Annual Excellence Awards, presented to pharmacists who are making outstanding contributions to the pharmacist profession and the health of their communities.

Intern Pharmacist of the Year – Joshua Cooper MPS, Priceline Pharmacy Maryborough
​Undertaking his intern year in the regional centre of Maryborough, Victoria, Joshua Cooper has become an integral part of the pharmacy team. Joshua quickly learnt just how valuable rural pharmacists are to their communities, with people travelling hours for health advice.

​Engaging with the community via social media, in-store activations and through local sporting groups, Joshua is raising awareness of the services that pharmacists offer but patients don’t know they can access. Joshua has taken to driving pharmacy services including MedsChecks, Diabetes MedsChecks and DAAs, as well as minor ailment and triage interactions with patients, going above and beyond the role of an intern pharmacist.

Early Career Pharmacist of the Year – Emily Griffin MPS
​Driven by her deep-rooted passion for health care, Early Career Pharmacist Emily Griffin has already cemented her place amongst Victoria’s most influential pharmacists.

Ms Griffin co-built and developed the Australian-first Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Statewide Pharmacy Service in Victoria, leading to the successful implementation of the service in 2019. She is a co-author on various guidelines and processes in this area, also developing a Pharmacist Credentialing Program to ensure consistent education and training of pharmacists across the country and consequently, a cohesive service across Australia.

​Emily is currently practising as a Senior Pharmacist in the Complex Care Service at a St Vincent’s Hospital, a Lecturer within the rural health school at Monash University, a Teaching Associate within the Master of Clinical Pharmacy at Monash University, and as a credentialed consultant pharmacist.

Victorian Pharmacist Medal – Natalie Kopas MPS
​The Pharmacist Medal recognises the quiet achievement of Natalie Kopas, an independent community pharmacist in Bentleigh, Victoria. Ms Kopas lives and breathes the values and passion of pharmacy in everything she does, from the pharmacy to home visits with patients.

​Ms Kopas is a cornerstone of her community, hosting community events at the pharmacy including her annual Christmas event bringing together all at her own expense.

​Tucker Road Pharmacy is a true family owned and operated business, with the entire family being around the pharmacy from bookkeeping to home deliveries. Ms Kopas is known to work extended hours to ensure her community has access to the care and advice they need and is often the first point of call for her patients.

​Ms Kopas is awarded the Victorian Pharmacist Medal for 2023, recognising her lifelong commitment to quality pharmacy practice and dedication to serving her community.

Pharmacist of the Year – Professor Simon Bell MPS
Victorian Pharmacist of the Year Professor Simon Bell FPS is leading the way for advanced practice pharmacists around Australia and the world. In his role as Professor and Director of Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Professor Bell is pioneering the role of pharmacists in residential aged care.

Professor Bell is the Clinical Chair of Australia’s new Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Psychotropic Medications in People Living with Dementia and in Residential Aged Care. He led an 18-member multidisciplinary expert group in the development of the Guideline and coordinated a wide range of stakeholder engagement and public consultation. He has developed a series of supplementary material to support the implementation of the Guideline into practice including a Guideline summary, 1-page fact sheets, a Consumer Companion Guide and QUM education sessions for pharmacists to deliver in aged care. The Guideline is also currently being translated into 5 different languages. This Guideline was developed in direct response to findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

​Professor Bell is also the Chief Investigator of two Medical Research Future Fund projects evaluating novel roles for pharmacists in residential aged care to support guideline translation and improve medication management. One of these projects, the EMBRACE project, currently involves on-site aged care pharmacists working at four aged care provider organisations across Australia to lead the implementation of the new Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Psychotropic Medications in People Living with Dementia and in Residential Aged Care. The second project, MEGA-MAC, is evaluating new roles for pharmacists working with Medication Advisory Committees to drive improvements in medication management. These studies are building new evidence for the system-level benefits a pharmacist can have in aged care and will directly inform the national roll-out of Onsite Aged Care Pharmacists in Australia.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Associate Professor Louis Roller FPS
​Throughout a career spanning over 60 years, Honorary Associate Professor Louis Roller FPS has made sustained and significant contributions to the pharmacy profession, including in longstanding academic and leadership positions.

Until his retirement in 2008, Assoc. Prof. Roller was the Director of the Bachelor Pharmacy Program at Monash University, where he was a significant contributor to the development of the new integrated BPharm program, which commenced in 2009. He has taught in all areas of the pharmacy course over his long career including such diverse subjects as chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacognosy, pharmaceutics, clinical pharmacy, psychology, pharmaceutical microbiology and pharmacy practice.

​In fact, Assoc. Prof. Roller has been directly involved in the education and training of more than 5000 pharmacists, imparting the principles of ethics, honesty, and compassion for patients onto all of his students.

​Throughout his career Assoc. Prof. Roller has also authored of hundreds of scientific and professional articles and a number of book chapters across practice areas. He has served on the Pharmacy Board of Victoria for 22 years (1984-2005) and during that time chaired the Inspectorial (discipline) committee for 10 years and subsequently, the Education Committee (5 years). He continues as a Board examiner for the registration exams.

​Assoc. Prof. Roller has served on the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (Vic Branch) Continuing Education Committee for over 42 years, also running PSA’s New Drugs Course annually for over 20 years. Assoc. Prof. Roller has also served as a longstanding member of the PSA Victorian branch committee, retiring at the end of 2022.

PSA Victorian President Dr Amy Page FPS congratulated the award winners, recognising their commitment to pharmacy practice.
​“Each and every pharmacist recognised last night has made a significant contribution to the profession over the last year and throughout their careers and I congratulate them all on this worthy recognition.

​“Congratulations to the award winners and nominees for your commitment to the health of all Victorians.”

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