Pharmacy Student of the Year (PSOTY)

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) develops the annual Pharmacy Student of the year (PSOTY) counselling competition. This competition is designed to showcase the counselling skills of final year pharmacy students from participating universities around Australia.


The PSA’s involvement is aimed at increasing student awareness of PSA and encouraging students to become active, life-long members of this vibrant organisation.


The PSOTY competition provides a platform for students to challenge their ability to impart accurate, evidence-based healthcare information and advice to patients using appropriate communication techniques. The competition is based around case scenarios that are designed to reflect real-life practice and to encourage and reinforce the role of the pharmacist as an essential healthcare provider.


PSA develops and clinically reviews PSOTY case scenarios (cases) for the NAPSA Wildcard, State/Territory and the Grand Final National competitions. The State/Territory finals are hosted by the PSA State/Territory Offices. The national final is held at the PSA annual national conference in July or August, and is where the pharmacy student of the year is ultimately decided.


In the PSOTY competition, students engage in a process similar to an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) such as they would at the pharmacy board registration exams. The cases involve an interaction with a standardised patient (actor).The pharmacy student provides advice and guidance to this patient and recommends the most appropriate non-prescription medicine, or suggests another outcome such as referral to a general practitioner. A panel of 3–4, mainly practising pharmacists, judge the students’ performance.

Case study structure

The case studies are designed to be clear and simple, with typical symptoms allowing the student to differentially diagnose the patient’s condition. There is enough scope for the student to offer a differential diagnosis and indicate why they have come to that conclusion.


PSOTY cases used by PSA during Wildcard or State/ Territory heats feature a symptom-based request requiring OTC medicine recommendations. In  these cases, the patient may  not be taking any prescription or non-prescription medicines, nor on any natural therapies or vitamins.


Cases used during State/Territory, Wildcard or Grand Finals feature either a symptom based request or a direct product request. These cases are slightly more complex as the patient will have some additional feature for the student to consider. For example, the patient may be taking prescription or non-prescription medicines or they may have medical conditions or allergies.. The student will have to consider these additional factors before making a recommendation as these may influence their treatment recommendation.


Case studies require students to:


  • demonstrate effective communication skills such as good questioning and listening skills, as well as show empathy to the patient.
  • gather and interpret information to make a diagnosis.
  • make clinically sound recommendations using non-prescription medicines.

Competition structure

The student is given a total of 5 minutes for the case. During the competition, a time warning bell is sounded after 4 minutes, then a final bell after 5 minutes for each participant.


Within this time, they are expected to offer a solution to the patient’s issue, provide counselling advice and, if needed, refer to any reference source. PSA will provide some references (e.g. AMH, APF) for the students at the Wildcard competition at NAPSA Congress, State/Territory Finals and Grand Final at the PSA national conference. While students are allowed to refer to references, it is expected that they have some basic knowledge of the minor ailments presented. Reference sources are mainly used to confirm doses, alternative treatment options, side effects and any pertinent counselling points. Additional time is not allocated to students for research during the competition.


It is favourable for students to offer the patient some counselling aids (e.g. a Pharmacy Self Care fact card)  


The student will be judged on:

  • making and justifying their decision to treat or not to treat
  • making and justifying their decision to supply or not supply any requested medicine
  • where indicated, recommending an appropriate product (the student will be marked down for inappropriate recommendations)
  • providing counselling for the recommended medicine
  • discussing lifestyle issues where relevant
  • providing an appropriate explanation for referral, if required
  • clear communication and ideally, attempting to determine if the patient has understood the information.

Student entry into PSOTY

Students commence the competition through participation in the PSOTY competition heats held by their university. Eligible students must be in their final year of their university pharmacy program and a PSA student member.


Universities host their own heat and the winners of these university heats progress to compete at their state final, organised by PSA. A finalist is then chosen to represent their State/Territory at the PSA annual national conference.


The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) also conducts a PSOTY wildcard competition at their annual conference. The winner of this competition is awarded a wildcard entry into the PSOTY national final at PSA annual national conference


Cases are usually based around the PSA counselling guides and PSA guidance documents found in the APF and on the PSA website. Other resource material may include PSA Self Care Fact Cards, Australian Medicines Handbook, Therapeutic Guidelines, Community Pharmacy (Rutter and Newby), national disease-state guidelines, and consumer health information on reputable websites

2023 Winner

Winner of 2023 PSOTY competition

Samantha Montgomery

2021 Winner

2021 PSOTY winner

Zoe Robinson – Queensland

2022 Winner

Haylee Shaw – Tasmania

2020 Winner

2020 PSOTY Winner

Kurtis Gray – WA

2019 Winner

Alice Hashiguchi – WA

2018 Winner

Ben Coughlan – ACT