Our recently retired and newly appointed PDL Directors for the ACT and NSW, Curtis Ruhnau and Amanda Galbraith, sat down to discuss what has been happening in their space.
Curtis Ruhnau: G’day Amanda, I remember when you were appointed to the PDL Board as the first female Director for NSW/ACT, and the first Director residing in the ACT, I had the same feeling as when I first saw a Universal Remote Control. I thought ‘well, this changes everything!’. Seriously though, why did you want to become a Director for PDL?
Amanda Galbraith: What an introduction, Curtis! I’m not sure this changes everything, but I am proud to have joined PDL as the new NSW/ACT Director. I have always been interested in advocacy for the pharmacy profession. I have worked as a community pharmacist, community pharmacy owner and board director and I am a credentialled diabetes educator.
I have a particular love of governance opportunities in organisations that provide leadership and oversight, having previously been a Director/National Councilor of the Pharmacy Guild. I am currently Director and FARM Chair of the Australian Pharmacy Council and a Board Director for Marathon Health and the Pharmacists’ Support Service. I am also drawn to membership organisations, so the PDL Director role was very interesting to me.
CR: What do you think are some of the key issues pharmacists are facing at the moment?
AG: The main issue that I have seen is the exhaustion and burnout in the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that was forced upon us all for quite a long time. One of the issues that we need to continue to address at PDL is how to help our members to feel supported if they are facing challenges. We can provide our members with guidance on ways to avoid common indemnity issues that we see.
I can also see the opportunity afforded by practising to the top of our clinical scope, which has come to the forefront in recent times. It is a great opportunity, but it also can be challenging for some, to feel like they need to constantly learn new skills. Our role at PDL is to be able to put frameworks around their practice that enable them to take on those new opportunities, such as vaccinating, or for Queensland pharmacists possibly the UTI pilot program. We are here to support our members through those new opportunities.
CR: What have you learnt both about yourself and our profession over the last two years?
AG: My personal learning is to recognise that I can’t ‘do all and be all’ for everybody, all the time. It’s important to look after myself first so that I can help others. It’s that saying of putting your own oxygen mask on first. For me, it’s walking with my neighbour and my dog to provide my days with some time to rest, recover and feel reinvigorated.
For our profession, it is perhaps that pharmacists, and our industry, have traditionally always been quite resilient, able to change directions as needed, and we have seen this over many decades of professional practice. However, lately I am left pondering if our resilience has come at a cost over the last three years, resulting in many feeling overwhelmed and perhaps isolated. As a member of the Pharmacists’ Support Service Board, I would like to encourage everyone to call PSS on 1300 244 910 if they feel they need peer support and an ear to listen.
CR: And sincere congratulations on being appointed the ACT Health Acting Chief Pharmacist. How are you going to manage that role and your position on the PDL Board and Local Advisory Committee (LAC)?
AG: One of the strongest learnings I’ve had in my governance career has been the necessity to consider perceived conflicts of interest within the variety of roles that I have had in the last 10-15 years. I take my governance responsibilities very seriously and I always consider the needs of the members of the organisation that I am representing. Whilst in the role as Acting Chief Pharmacist until April 2023, I will not sit on the NSW/ACT LAC, to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest. I will leave this in your capable hands, Curtis. In the meantime, I am looking forward to the opportunity to participate on the PDL Board and consider the needs of our members from a national perspective.
CR: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me and our members, Amanda. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
AG: Thanks, Curtis. I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to have this conversation, I recognise the excellent way you have contributed as the NSW/ACT Director for PDL for nearly the last decade, and I hope I can continue to support our members as tirelessly and passionately as you have.
For our NSW and ACT members, I am always available for a conversation, if you would like to share any member issues with me. I was thrilled to be able to converse in person, with many of PDL’s members in Sydney recently, at both the PSA22 and Pharmacy Connect conferences, and look forward to continuing to meet with members in the future.
Curtis Ruhnau remains on the NSW/ACT Local Advisory Committee and is currently Chair after serving as Director from January 2014 – July 2022.