Exceptional pharmacists in the toughest of times

Friday 10th December 2021


Last night at the Victorian Pharmacy Awards ceremony, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) Victoria Branch recognised the state’s outstanding achievers for 2021.


PSA Victoria Branch President, John Jackson, presented awards for Victoria’s Intern Pharmacist of the Year, Early Career Pharmacist of the Year, Pharmacist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and the Victorian Pharmacist Medal.


“After two of the toughest years in living memory for Victorian pharmacists, the commitment of these winners to their patients and to the safe and effective use of medicines is extraordinary.


“These awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contribution to Victorian pharmacy through excellence in all forms of practice.


“Year-on-year I continue to be blown away by the efforts of pharmacists across the state and these deserving winners have exemplified the talent and versatility amongst the profession.


“Congratulations to Laura, Shefali, Paul, Bill and Jim on your success, and on behalf of the PSA I thank you for devotion to the pharmacy profession in Victoria,” Mr Jackson said.


This year’s award winners are as follows:

  • Laura Carfrae (Maryborough): Intern Pharmacist of the Year
  • Shefali Parekh (Melbourne): Early Career Pharmacist of the Year
  • Paul Naismith (Melbourne): Pharmacist of the Year
  • William (Bill) Horsfall (Melbourne): Lifetime Achievement Award
  • James (Jim) Burns (Melbourne): Victorian Pharmacist Medal


Award winner profiles below:


Laura Carfrae: PSA Victorian Intern Pharmacist of the Year


Laura is a dedicated intern pharmacist keen to use her clinical skills in rural Victoria to increase the health literacy and access to quality use of medicines for the entire community. Her passion for accurate and intentional prescribing in the aged care setting and her ability to communicate this with the patients, nursing staff and prescribers is outstanding.


In her time as an intern at Priceline Pharmacy Maryborough, in the midst of the pandemic, Laura has managed to practice beyond her scope as an intern and assist the accredited and registered pharmacists in the following ways, always sighting that rural workforce issues put extra pressure on an already stretched team – and focused on upskilling to help the team.


In the aged care setting, Laura conducts chart reviews, collects information from nursing staff and clinical notes so that the accredited pharmacist may provide quality RMMRs. This includes drawing on her previous medical science degree to help interpret lab test data efficiently and provide associated QUM training on de-prescribing, antimicrobial stewardship and pain management.


Laura trained as an immuniser under the emergency health order to assist the Goldfields Shire to have above 90% second dose vaccination rates from 12 years and over in a short period of time.


Laura also produced the pharmacy’s Pfizer vaccine protocol to ensure reduce error risk across all three COVID-19 vaccines. Laura has been patient in explaining the benefits of vaccination to vaccine hesitant patients, being the lead ‘white coat’ for all the pharmacies quality accreditation requirements including helping to manage documentation for health services, provide orientation and training to new staff to prepare them for their S2/S3 certificates and developing and honing an electronic incident reporting log for errors and near misses and electronic home delivery recording which increased ten-fold throughout the pandemic.


Laura also manages the HMR booking system for accredited pharmacists, highlighting potential issues for the pharmacists to raise with GPs sooner rather than later if required. She shows a clinical astuteness and use of resources.


Laura has completed further education beyond her PSA ITP program including an asthma educator’s course, this has equipped her to have meaningful conversations with our largely poor health literate community about medicine compliance and the benefits of smoking cessation.


Laura is an advocate for rural pharmacy speaking at the RMIT Final Year Students Forum and securing a 2022 intern for the pharmacy due to her passion regarding the clinical work she is performing in a rural setting.


She was an active Victorian Early Career Pharmacist Working Group member, involved in organising a highly-attended online event during the lockdown.


Shefali Parekh: PSA Victorian Early Career Pharmacist of the Year


Shefali Parekh is a rising early career pharmacist who has been actively involved in the professional community since her student days. Primarily working in the hospital setting, she has taken an interest in education and helping to develop the next generation of pharmacists.


Shefali is committed to developing her own practice into more specialised areas, more autonomously. She completed the Nicotine Replacement Therapy credential at The Alfred Hospital, allowing her to assess nicotine dependence and to prescribe replacement therapy as appropriate. Here she also completed the Therapeutic Drug Monitoring credential, which enables her to check, interpret and order vancomycin and aminoglycoside levels to ensure their safe and appropriate use.


Shefali is also committed to helping develop the next generation. She has completed the Monash Clinical Educator training program and learnt about educational theory such as Kolbs Learning Styles and Gibb’s Reflective Cycle; communication skills for supervisors such as how to give effective feedback; and problem solving. She completed this course to prepare to adopt a more formal preceptor role in the future, to be involved in clinically supervising both students and interns. She also sits on the Continuing Education Committee at The Austin Hospital, helping to organise education to facilitate practitioner development within the Austin Pharmacy Department, which she has passed on topics of interest to the wider ECP community through the Communities of Specialty Interest forum.


Shefali works well within healthcare teams, currently within the Austin Haematology and Medical Oncology Health Service. This involves supporting the service through cytotoxic manufacturing for inpatients, ambulatory care, clinical trials and day oncology; inpatient ward-based clinical pharmacy services including taking a medication history on admission, providing discharge counselling and dispensing oral chemotherapy. She also assists with the Novel Day Oncology at Home Program commenced at the Austin in July 2021, which has opened up an opportunity for not only patients to receive life-saving chemotherapy in the comfort of their own homes, but also supports the innovation and expanding roles of pharmacists.


Paul Naismith: PSA Victorian Pharmacist of the Year


Paul is one of the real innovators of pharmacy and a pioneer of IT, making the software user friendly for community pharmacists. His work in fast tracking electronic prescriptions with almost 100% uptake by pharmacists in Australia during COVID- 19 times has improved access for people in isolation, and GPs working by telehealth. More importantly, electronic prescriptions will reduce medicine safety errors and increase security of patient’s medicines information during the pandemic.


Paul is one of the real innovators of pharmacy and a pioneer of IT, making the software user-friendly for community pharmacists. Paul is CEO of Fred IT group and chairman of PDL and APPCO. Paul received a distinguished alumni award from Monash University in 2020.


Paul co-founded Fred in 1991 to develop dispensing software (FRED- Fast Reliable Easy Dispensing) that was easy to use, before turning to pharmacy friendly point-of-sale (Quicksell) and a pharmacy specific Internet service (nuNet).


He worked with government on the roll out of real time claiming via PBS online. Other achievements include the launch of eRx Script Exchange in 2009 (Australia’s first national electronic prescriptions exchange for pharmacy and health) and MedView (an online cloud-based platform for managing medicines information).


In 2019, he assisted with the introduction of real-time prescription monitoring in Victoria to save lives and reduce the accidental misuse of prescription medications. In 2020, electronic scripts were launched to improve the medication supply function and improve medication safety. This was fast-tracked to cope with the change of demand with the lockdowns imposed by COVID-19. The efficiencies of the electronic paperless prescriptions have allowed a seamless process of prescribing, dispensing and supply by reducing the cumbersome method of faxing prescriptions which also still require a hard copy to be sent to the pharmacy. The e-script has seen an increase in pre-ordering of repeats using the technology which has helped pharmacy workflow.


The increased take-up has seen eRx Script Exchange achieve the milestone of 20 million electronic prescriptions since Australia’s national system of electronic prescriptions was launched in May 2020. More than 28,000 doctors prescribed 10.5 million of those, while 98% of the nation’s pharmacies produced 9.5 million repeats. Paul has demonstrated the value of engaging with the industry’s many stakeholders – the doctors, pharmacists, organisations that represent them plus industry, government, technology providers and importantly what patients want.


Paul has demonstrated the value of engaging with the industry’s many stakeholders – the doctors’, pharmacists’ organisations that represent them plus industry, government, technology providers and importantly what patients want. Paul stands out and has been frequently listed in the Top 14 Most Influential People in Pharmacy.


Until recently, he was a partner in two community pharmacies in Melbourne.


He is realistic in the change management required to embrace technology change. For many years Paul has been pushing for medication service coordination to reduce high patient risks especially in transition of care.


Paul provides an excellent role model of developing systems to use technology to make the life of the pharmacist easier and medicines safer for patients.


William (Bill) Horsfall: PSA VIC Lifetime Achievement Award


Bill Horsfall is one of the most well-known pharmacists in Victoria. For 23 years, Bill was the Director of CE for PSA Victoria producing the most comprehensive and well attended lectures, seminars, and courses in Australia. Bill continues to influence practice change working in GP education.


Bill started his pharmacy journey as a hospital pharmacist in Townsville, then Mackay, whilst also working as an Officer in the Army Reserves. Following a working holiday in the UK, he returned to Melbourne working in hospital pharmacy and then owning two community pharmacies. Following development of and education program for Chemmart Pharmacies, he became Director of Continuing Education for the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (Vic). He held this role for 23 years and developed the most comprehensive CE program in Australia. Events were usually conducted three times a week and a weekend every month in the 19 regional centres as well as Parkville. Lecture attendance at Parkville averaged 250 pharmacists at the monthly lecture with a record of 720 at one event.


One of Bill’s skills was involving other pharmacists. He sought out the key interest groups and worked with a group of over 20 pharmacists and academics who attended the monthly CE meeting and actively contributed to running the courses. Bill’s innovation ran to developing courses in private hospital pharmacy, counselling mental health patients, introduction to pharmacy computers and software programs, business management in conjunction with AIPM, negotiation skills, sports medicine, wound management, pharmacy industry representative training, re-entry courses, a 4-night new drugs course, therapeutic updates, as well as monthly training weekends around regional Victoria. During all this time, Bill continued to work sessionally in community pharmacy to maintain relevance.


Bill moved into GP education in 2003 and has worked for 18 years for NPS MedicineWise as an Educational Visitor presenting clinical discussion sessions individually or in groups using evidence-based information to assist with best practice. Due to his well-earned reputation, Bill has the highest call rate for Australia in this work.


Bill has continued to work with PSA education and has been the Education Administration Officer for the PSA Offshore Conference for the past 20 years. His networking with key opinion leaders has enabled much of his success in all aspects of his working life.


Bill Horsfall, PhC, FPS (at 85 years) is one of the oldest working pharmacists, and to his credit, has kept up with technology.


Bill is a role model for all in dedicating his life to the professionalism and recognition of pharmacists and helping all people. He has raised practice standards by example over a lifetime of dedicated practice.


Bill recently spoke to Australian Pharmacist reflecting on his career: https://www.australianpharmacist.com.au/bill-horsfall-member-insight/


James (Jim) Burns: PSA Victorian Pharmacist Medal

Jim Burns has owned and operated his pharmacy in Croydon for over 60 years. Aged in his 90s, he continues to work 5.5 days a week in his pharmacy. He operates a methadone clinic and has supported 100s of people through that program over the years. The community has a lot of love for Jim.


Croydon artist, Andy Drewitt, honoured Jim in a local street art installation this year. Titled “The Chemist”, Mr Drewitt stated “He put himself out there, along the way he copped some slack from the community, and the community wasn’t always primed to help people that are often regarded as falling through the cracks.”


Mr Burns grew up in Croydon. After working overseas, he went into partnership with Don Grey in 1959 and has been working in Croydon ever since.


In the mid-1980s Jim started an opioid pharmacotherapy clinic (sometimes colloquially referred to as a methadone program). He explained that he was driven to do so after a long-time customer found out his son, who was drug dependent, had stolen thousands of dollars from him. Mr Burns said “Then I thought, alright these people get into trouble. It’s not necessarily other family members that get hostile, but the general public get hostile when they find that drug-dependent people do things that are anti-social, stealing money or stealing other things to sell to get a few dollars to stop their pain.” He feels that pharmacotherapy programs allow people to lead a normal life – get a job, have a family.


He advocated early on for treatment to be more comprehensive, incorporating counselling and access to community services.  Also he has always kept his pharmacotherapy program very affordable seeing it as a community benefit for it to be accessible.


Countless lives have been improved over the decades, with 40 patients in his pharmacy currently supported on pharmacotherapy.



Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463