A minute with...

SHPA members are progressive advocates for clinical excellence, passionate about patient care and committed to evidence-based practice. Here, we spend a minute with some of them, to learn about their lives across Australia and how their work in a variety of healthcare settings improves patient outcomes.

A minute with... Ron Batagol

With over 50 years’ experience in pharmacy and an impressive array of contributions under his belt, Ron Batagol knew applying for Advancing Practice credentials was a worthy challenge.


‘I’m delighted to receive Stage 2 Advancing Practice credentials and learnt so much about aligning practice activities to the advanced level requirements, and the evolving necessity for a career long practice portfolio’.

As a prominent voice in specialist, general and consultant pharmacy, author of ‘Taking Medicines in Pregnancy - What’s safe and what’s not’, and contributor to numerous advisory groups and committees, Ron has a long history of career advancement.


‘From the moment I started my graduate diploma and apprenticeship, I was fascinated by pharmacy, and after 12 years managing in community pharmacy, I wanted to learn more, so I applied for a job at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and after starting studied a Diploma of Journalism and SHPA Fellowship in Hospital Pharmacy’.

Combining an appetite for knowledge and a flair for words, Ron was part of the group of pharmacists who spearheaded the establishment of SHPA’s ‘Guidelines for Clinical Pharmacy Practice’ in 1978.


‘It’s just as relevant now as it was then for pharmacists to measure their current practice competencies against standards, professionally and also medico-legally - you can’t argue with pharmacists doing advancing practice.’

Notwithstanding a lengthy career, Ron shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to pursue his interest in the medico-legal side of pharmacy.


‘I was involved in providing public advice on a major case recently, which was challenging as I put my work forward to researchers and QCs, so I’m keen to continue pursuing that while remaining up-to-date with new drug information and medicines changes.’

When he’s not in the public eye or working as a Senior Pharmacist at Monash Medical Centre and Specialist Advisor to Therapeutic Goods Administration Committees, Ron enjoys catching up with friends and family, and cruising around the world.


‘Good food, good wine and good people to relax with is critically important, taking a break and looking at the world around me has given me the focus I need throughout my career and study to continue achieving my goals.’

A minute with... Tom Simpson

By his own admission, 2018 Tasmanian Pharmacist of the Year Tom Simpson ‘kind of’ got into pharmacy by accident.  

After graduating from university with a B.Pharm and working in web development and IT, a move into an information systems role at the Royal Hobart Hospital spurred Tom into completing a pharmacy internship and becoming registered. 

‘The key moment for me was at the SHPA National Conference, Medicines Management 2001 where I won a best paper award – that’s when it all came together and I realised I had a real passion for the profession.’ 

Tom says it took more than ‘getting the prize, getting registered, and getting a specialist job’ to get him where he is today. 

‘I’ve had some great mentors who took me under their wing and I was lucky enough to have a Deputy CEO who taught me about hospital management and finances which led to a bunch of cool opportunities across the health system.

‘Looking back, moving out of pharmacy and working with other areas of a hospital such as the kitchens or cath lab has been a real career strength, not only giving me the context I need to manage the pharmacy ecosystem, but also re-energising me and helping me realise I want to be here, in pharmacy. 

Tom was also fortunate to be mentored by a hospital CEO who taught him that just because pharmacists do serious work that affects vulnerable people, it doesn’t mean it should be joyless. 

Managing an ambitious state-wide program encompassing the roll-out of seven-day services, establishing a multidisciplinary medication safety unit, evaluating bedside medication management, and looking to implement smart pumps across multiple hospital sites is not without its difficulties.    

‘Attracting staff is difficult, even though we offer great work/life balance in Tasmania with no traffic jams or overtime, if I announce a great program but can’t find the staff, it stalls.’ 

Tom stands by this commitment to work/life balance, spending as much time as he can with his family enjoying Tasmania’s outdoors and looks forward to ‘taking my daughter on a trip to a rainforest to go ziplining’. 

His other hobby, particularly in Winter, is ‘blowing things up in video games. 

I’ve just finished the new Wolfenstein game and last week attended PAX – a national game conference – with my nephew and brother-in-law where, would you believe, there were some really interesting presentations on mental health and the community health benefits of video games.’  

If you want to learn more about Statewide Hospital Pharmacy, why not visit Tom and the Tasmanian team at their booth at Medicines Management 2018 in Brisbane. 



A minute with... Mark Clifford

What started as a weekend job filling bags and doing odd jobs at a local pharmacy in his teens led Mark Clifford to a new passion, career and country.

‘I started out as a high school teacher initially and realised pretty quickly it wasn’t for me, but it taught me a lot and, education-wise, that’s the reason I now do what I do.’


After Mark stepped away from teaching to gain his UK pharmacy technician qualifications, he tagged along on a trip to Australia with his partner in 2012 – but didn’t anticipate it would lead to a pivotal training and development role today.


‘The Sterile Production Coordinator, in charge of training pharmacists and technicians/assistants in aseptic technique at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, was running everything on her own. My position as Senior Technician was new at the time (2014) so I was able to take over the training to relieve her.


‘Not long after I joined SHPA, which resulted in developing and hosting Branch technician CE sessions and becoming involved in SHPA’s National Pharmacy Technician Network.’


Mark’s commitment to education and his profession has led to not one, but two speaking slots at Medicines Management 2018 in Brisbane this November. 


‘I feel so fortunate to be able to present twice about the Branch committee’s innovative thinking in this space and what we’ve achieved with our technician sessions – it’s such a joint effort.


‘I don’t think a lot of technicians realise how they can get involved with research or by submitting abstracts and we’re encouraging that by setting up the NSW Technician Sub-committee which will help them realise their potential.’


For Mark, pharmacy and teaching have nicely dovetailed and in an ideal world he’d create his own job title - Senior Technician for Education and Development - but in the interim, and just as importantly, he’s travelling when he can, crashing on the sofa after a long week or, as he did recently, eloping with his partner to New York.


Be sure to check out Mark's presentations at MM2018 by viewing the full program for more details or registering now.

A minute with... Brooke Bullock

Brooke Bullock knows that if you want to affect change you have to put your money where your mouth is and turn your passion into proof.

As one of Gold Coast Health’s Principal Medical Education Officers, and a current PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, Brooke’s passion for pharmacy and education is already making waves.

‘I had a lot to learn about the research world when I started my PhD, and even though research is not everyone’s cup of tea, I really believe research is the key to change,’ says Brooke.

Focusing on the impact of clinical pharmacists on post-take ward round prescribing, medication appropriateness and cost, the findings of Brooke’s PhD have already been well-received by doctors and pharmacists alike.

‘I am yet to submit my PhD thesis, however the Royal Brisbane and Womens hospital have already implemented placing pharmacists on post take ward rounds because our  interim findings were so positive, so that’s a win in itself,.’

Brooke has undertaken numerous volunteer teaching positions abroad and is intent on driving the pharmacy agenda forward and advocating for safe prescribing; naturally drawn to education, she is presenting as an invited speaker at Medicines Management 2018 with Dr Christy Noble.

‘Christy and I are really excited to share the details of our learning program at Gold Coast Health which focuses on equipping junior pharmacists with the skills to take on a greater supervisory role of junior doctors. This provides an opportunity to further empower young pharmacists and doctors in the early stages of their careers.’

With so many irons in the fire, Brooke says she makes sure she keeps a healthy work life balance: running a small home based plant & kokedama business, coordinating craft workshop and most importantly, being a new Mum to her 4 month old daughter Lulu.

Make time to listen to Brooke and Dr Noble’s presentation at MM2018 and check out the full program for more details or register now.

A minute with... Brian Dolan

Promising to be one of MM2018’s most dynamic keynote presenters, Professor Brian Dolan, knows a thing or two about getting people moving.

Brian created a social movement encouraging health professionals to get patients up, dressed and moving while in hospital to maintain autonomy and dignity and reduce the risk of deconditioning.

Having clocked up 350 million (and counting) Twitter impressions, Brian says at its heart #EndPJParalysis is about flipping the script on the final years of life.

‘We ask the simple question: if you have 1,000 days left to live, how many would you want to spend in hospital?

‘If you are 80 years old or over, a week in bed in hospital can lead to 10 years of muscle ageing, 1.5 kg of muscle loss, and leave you five times more likely to end up in institutional care on discharge rather than going home.

‘The more time you spend in bed in your PJs, the more harmful it is. The goal of “End PJ Paralysis” is to minimise development of painful pressure ulcers, reduce risk of falls and reduce patients’ length of stay.’

Brian says #EndPJParalysis now belongs to everyone, and pharmacists in particular can help spread the word.

‘It’s reaching New Zealand and Canada and we’re keen to expand accessibility further through a dedicated app.

‘More importantly, and this is where pharmacists come to the fore, we want to change conversations around healthcare.

‘We used to say “come to hospital, it’s the best place to be” but now we’re saying “lying down is not really good for you”. Pharmacists can help patients understand the rationale and encourage them to stay mobile.’

Brian says he is looking forward to his keynote address at MM2018 in November and he connects strongly with the conference theme.

‘Time is the currency of healthcare, not money.

‘Time hold us all together – waiting lists and access targets are measured in time; time is dangerous for someone at risk of sepsis awaiting antibiotics; time can be wasted going to meetings or looking for equipment.

‘Seventy per cent of health service budgets in Australia are spent on time. It’s called “salary” and “wages” but this is the purchase of our time. So how do we make sure we don’t waste it?’

A minute with... Jane Booth

From work-experience watching cardiac stress testing to medicines information, social media and podcasts, Jane Booth’s pharmacy journey has been anything but linear.

‘I’ve had a random career progression and never imagined I would end up where I am when I started out as a rotational ward pharmacist.’ 

After spending her early career at Austin Health in surgical ward pharmacy and the Operating Suite and completing a Masters in Public Health, Jane’s career took an unexpected turn when a friend told her about an opportunity opening up in Medicines Information. 

‘The role led to all sorts of new opportunities like social media, which wasn’t even around when I was at university, a role on the Medicines Management 2015 Organising Committee and of course, the birth of Purple Pen Podcast.’

After working on MM2015 together, Jane and SHPA’s Head of Pharmacy Futures, Dan Guidone, started the flagship fortnightly clinical pharmacy podcast.

‘When we started the podcast we had nothing to benchmark against and thought “if we get 300 followers that will be great” – now we have nearly 2000 and we’re blown away by the response.’

Starting a new role with the Formulary and Business Development Team at Monash Health after taking long-service leave has also led to new challenges and opportunities.

‘Moving to Monash has been a big change but I’m exercising my brain in new ways and using my medicines information skills to support decisions about specialist and emerging treatments for patients who often can’t have standard therapies.

Saying yes and seeing where she ends up has also led to her involvement in Medicines Management 2018.

'Being invited to speak about my professional journey at this year’s conference has given me a great opportunity to reflect on my career, the challenges I experienced in the early days and the strategies I’ve used to overcome them - having good support in pharmacy and your personal life is something I’ll be touching on as well as being prepared to not pick a lane or be locked in.’ try new things, even if they’re not forever.'

A new role wasn’t the only result of long-service leave – ‘I’m all about work-life balance, I started learning the cello so I squeeze in practice where I can, in between going for long runs and sharing good food with my friends and family’. 

A chat with... Marisa

We caught up with Marisa at a busy cafe in Victoria, where she tells us how SHPA's CPD program supports her to consolidate her practice. A member since 2010, Marisa says SHPA's annual Medicines Management conference is a perfect example of education and networking combining to provide an annual career boost.

‘As my professional partner SHPA has enabled me to further my career, through CPD events and the opportunity to network with my colleagues, get more involved in research and also with access to ‘super’ pharmacists that can I can use as my role models and learn from.’

‘The Medicines Management conference is a great opportunity to present your research, at any stage of your career. I remember going to my very first medicines management conference as an attendee and thinking, wow this is so inspiring and amazing but also thinking, I can do this.’

'A minute with...' archive