Congratulations to Blake McCallum on winning Intern Pharmacist of the Year at the NSW Pharmacy Awards (PSA).
Mr McCallum’s internship involved working at the various pharmacies in Broken Hill. He also worked with Maari Ma both in town and in Wilcannia and spent time working at the Broken Hill hospital.
“The award came as a big surprise,” Mr MCallum said.
He received the award for the exceptional level of support he provided to the Broken Hill community.
The award is also an acknowledgement of his outstanding contribution to NSW Pharmacy.
The NSW President of the PSA, Chelsea Felkai, congratulated him on his success and acknowledged his commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of his community.
Mr McCallum is now a fully registered pharmacist and full-time manager and pharmacist at the Westside Plaza’s Amcal chemist.
He said it is a mystery who nominated him for the award.
“I’ve asked every pharmacist in Broken Hill who I work with, and others, and every person said no, so still no noise on who nominated me,” Mr McCallum said.
Ms Felkai said the calibre of submissions this year was very high, and it wasn’t an easy decision when you consider how pharmacists have stepped up over the past two years.
There are possibly up to a thousand interns in New South Wales, so it is something to be selected, said Mr McCallum.
“Blake is a passionate, emerging pharmacist who has been integral in vaccinating rural and remote Western NSW communities against COVID-19,” Ms Felkai said.
“His knowledge base and exceptional clinical skills has had a significant impact on the Broken Hill community and his work with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Maari Ma Health, demonstrates his commitment to improving the health of his community,” she said.
Mr McCallum grew up on a sheep farm in Peterborough before studying pharmacy in Adelaide.
He completed a one-year internship as part of his pharmacy training.
Mr McCallum had never been to Broken Hill before he took the internship position here.
In South Australia, many rural services have been lost, whereas, in Broken Hill, there is a lot of potential to expand services operating in the area, said Mr McCallum.
“The role of pharmacies has changed a lot since the COVID pandemic. They’ve had to adapt the way pharmacy is delivered and instigate more resilient staffing systems,” he said.
“It is quite different working here than in the city. The award focuses a spotlight on rural pharmacy and helps city pharmacies see what we are doing here,” Mr McCallum said.
Mr McCallum would like to see more pharmacists located in rural areas.
“White Cliffs, Tibooburra and Packsaddle are towns without pharmacies. The Royal Flying Doctors Service fly medications to these places from Broken Hill,” he said.
The lack of pharmacists in the area means that if he is suddenly unwell and there isn’t a pharmacist to cover his store, he might be in the position where he may need to close the store for a day or two, he explained.
Drop into the Amcal Chemist at the Westside Plaza and congratulate him on his achievement.