Pantea Mehdizadeh – Pharmacist
Posted October 18, 2017, by Jenny Sakr
Pantea says the highlight of being a pharmacist is helping others, with over 12 years' experience working in a pharmacy, she says it's still the best part of the job and she never tires of it.
She's now turning her focus to integrative pharmacy, combining mainstream medicine with complementary and alternative medicine.
How long have you been in pharmacy?
I have been working in a pharmacy for over 12 years. I started as a pharmacy assistant, doing work experience when I first moved to Australia in 2004. I have been practising as a pharmacist since 2010.
What did you study and what are the steps you took to become a pharmacist?
I got accepted to study a Bachelor of Pharmacy at Curtin University in 2005 during which I worked as a pharmacy assistant to finish my 500 hours (back then it was compulsory to do 500 hours while studying). In my fourth year if study I also did a 24-week placement in WA. I then moved to NSW to do my internship which included 2,000 hours of supervised work, a few assignments, and a written and an oral exam - all in the lead up to become a registered pharmacist.
What was your first job?
Musician, I was working with different groups, singing in choirs and playing the guitar.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to become a surgeon when I was really young. Then I became fascinated with genes and genetic engineering.
When did you first know you wanted to be a pharmacist?
When I was 17 and started thinking about career path more seriously, I didn’t think life in a lab as a genetic engineer would satisfy me. I always wanted to be involved in health and to help people, was not really keen on the responsibility of diagnosis that lies on the shoulder of doctors, so the next best option was to liaise with other healthcare professionals and the idea of becoming a pharmacist stood out.
Explain a typical day at work
A typical day for me at this role is to set up the pharmacy, doing daily reports needed, going through my daily tasks and any unfinished tasks from previous days and prioritise once they’re all on paper. Like any other job, you’ll be presented with unaccounted tasks and constantly get interrupted as most patients would like to talk to the pharmacist or they are complicated cases that pharmacy assistant would require pharmacist’s advice. You’re also required to listen to as many conversations happening between patient’s and pharmacy assistants, and intervene when you consider necessary. It's important to keep training the assistants. You’ll learn to multitask naturally.
I guess my role is more sale focused in this pharmacy, I find it quite interesting to work on my interpersonal skill to create conversation with customers to help them choose the right products to achieve their goal; be it to quit smoking or detox, to more complicated cases of combining natural medicine with their prescription medication to improve their quality of life.
I used to manage a pharmacy for four years, during which I was responsible for managing employees to drive sales, mentoring staff to achieve their individual targets and plan their training (instore or offsite). I had to set targets for wages, check stock levels, go over buying budgets and strategise to increase profitability. I had to track the financials and generate reports fortnightly or monthly to ensure targets are achieved and plan for the following fortnight/month. I had to participate in monthly meetings with other managers and the owner to discuss plans, analysing figures etc. So depending o the day of the month these things would have been part of my daily plan. However, now it’s mostly planning my own day and achieving targets I set for myself.
Name the best and worst parts of your job
Dealing with people daily is the best and worst part of it. We are all human and let’s be honest some of us are quite unaware of how our words and actions affect others. Most people coming through the door are sick and they can take their pain out on you, but it’s also interesting to develop your skills to not let one bad attitude bring you down as there is no escape until closing time. So you have the choice between feeling miserable for the rest for the day or to snap out of it and not let other’s behaviour affect you so much.
There is no particular task I can say I don’t enjoy. I do like the variety of tasks, it makes your day more interesting as long as you’re happy to be flexible and adjust your daily task and prioritise multiple times during the day.
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
It wasn’t necessarily a career tip, more like an observation of one of many my supervisors I've had over the years. She was so different to all other ones, she was always making sure to help you make a decision on what needs to be done or always asks for your opinion if she wanted to ask you to do something. I have always tried to follow her footsteps when managing staff or getting people involved in decision making when they want to purchase something.
Where do people have to start to get into this field and what is a standard the salary?
You can either study Bachelor of Pharmacy or do an undergraduates degree like health science and do your masters in pharmacy.
Salary varies quite a lot, depending if you stay in community pharmacy or work with pharmaceutical companies or in private or public hospital etc. I don’t know about hospital jobs but community ranges between $25-$60/hour depending on experience and owners. The pharmaceutical industry could range from $65k-$90k or more. Especially if you work as a GP representative, you can get a car allowance and bonuses on top.
What's next for you?
I am making a few changes and going to try a different avenue, turning my focus to natural medicine. I saw how much natural medicines helped my grandma when she was with terminal cancer. I have been doing my own studies since; attending symposiums and lectures. I find it fascinating to learn about herbs and nutrients and how they can help prevent health complications or reduce the chance of side effects.
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.