‘Let go of what holds you back’: Assoc. Prof. Ian Coombes inspires as Fred J Boyd Award winner

Acknowledging his passion and dedication for practitioner growth, pharmacy research and developing leading pharmacy services, Associate Professor Ian Coombes was announced this morning as the recipient of the prestigious Fred J Boyd Award at Medicines Management 2018, the 44th SHPA National Conference.

In awarding the prize on behalf of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) in Brisbane, President Professor Michael Dooley celebrated the influence and broad reach of Associate Professor Coombes’ vision and leadership.

‘Ian’s passion and commitment to improving the care of patients and developing the pharmacy workforce has been instrumental in the growth of our profession.

‘He has led many innovations in practice that have resulted in the introduction of many impactful, nationwide initiatives and has been instrumental in Australia now recognising advancing practice of pharmacists.

‘Ian’s commitment to professional development and innovation saw him lead the evaluation and development of the tools that became the Clinical Competency Assessment Tool (ClinCAT), which is now widely used in Australian pharmacy for self and peer competency-based evaluation and feedback.

‘Through his PhD investigating the cause and prevention of prescribing errors, he has seen the adoption of a National Inpatient Medication chart which has led to a significant reduction in medication prescribing and administration errors across the country.’

Associate Professor Coombes is Director of Pharmacy at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, a former SHPA Board Director and recipient of the 2003 SHPA Australian Clinical Pharmacy Award, 2010 Medal of Merit and the 2017 SHPA Qld Branch William Harris Award.

In an entertaining and broad-ranging oration, Associate Professor Coombes encouraged the 1,200-strong delegation to ‘let go of things that hold you back’.

‘The DNA of the workforce is essential – what do people actually do? We’ve got to constantly ask ourselves: have we added value? And be brave and say: “let’s do it differently”.

‘It is exciting and promising for the future of healthcare that Australian pharmacy has matured so rapidly in recent years. Formalised, evidence-based frameworks for training and recognition are absolutely essential to ensuring the right people are in the right place to provide the very best care for our patients.’

Associate Professor Coombes said innovating and improving is a two-way street and a constant endeavour.

‘It is about giving back – there is no manual for effective, persistent performance and innovative patient care. These skills need nurturing, over time. 

‘As we grow into leaders, we also need to step back when the time is right. Have confidence in the systems you’ve put in place and the practice of the next generation.’ 

‘Most importantly, think broadly, work creatively and allow yourself to be bold. Nothing is impossible… some things are just more difficult than others.’

Assoc. Professor Coombes stayed true to this creative ethos throughout his freewheeling talk as he abandoned his notes, prompting laughter throughout the plenary hall: ‘Don’t be afraid to make a plan, then throw it away!’

Professor Dooley also today acknowledged Rosemary Burke, Peter Fowler and Steve Morris as very worthy nominees for the 2018 award.

‘This year’s nominees embody the spirit of the Fred J Boyd Award: innovative pharmacists progressing and developing their field for the benefit of the Australian community.’

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