Interview with Katie Godwin, Amcal Pharmacy, Caboolture, QLD – 2019 Glucojel Super Star Award National Winner

Katie Godwin has won the crown as the National Glucojel Super Star Award winner, announced at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Pharmacy Assistant National Conference.

While it still feels a little surreal for her, Katie comments on what it means to her, personally: “Everyone looks for recognition and I’ve finally got it. I think all my hard work has gone into something that I really care about and it’s paid off. It’s fantastic to know that everything that I do every day makes a difference.

Attending the Pharmacy Assistant National Conference has built on what she gained from the State Workshop day. “It is so great to be around a whole lot of like-minded people. They all share the same amount of passion for people and delivering fantastic service. I love those sorts of things – it’s my element. I love being able to communicate and connect with all sorts of different people.

Tell us more about your career in pharmacy.

I have been in pharmacy for 12 years now. I had a little bit of time off when I had my son. I started out when I was 17 when I left school. I always wanted to work in pharmacy because my mother did when she was younger. She’s no longer with me so I’ve always just wanted to make her proud. Pharmacy has always been a passion and I just love it so much. I’ve been with my current employer for five years (in the same place for seven years) and my employer has taught me a lot. He believed in me a lot and has brought out my confidence which has enabled me to be so fantastic. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I have people that come in just to see me or ask for me. I love that I’ve made that impression on somebody.

What do you love about community pharmacy?

I love that I can walk into work every day and I will see the same people every day because they are there every week getting their prescriptions or coming in just for a chat. It’s always been that way and I like that I’ve made those connections with those people. I love that I can be that ear for them to talk to. They may just be upset or have been re-diagnosed with cancer – I’ve been here for so long I’ve been on that journey with them before. It just really drives me to continue connecting with people in the way that I do. 

What makes your customer service so great and what advice do you have for other pharmacy assistants?

It’s probably the fact that I do have customers just wanting to come in and speak to me. If I’m not there then they will come back. It’s nice that they come in for me.

My advice to other pharmacy assistants is, don’t be too quick to judge. It doesn’t matter where they come from or what they’ve done in the past. People are always going to make mistakes and we are not in a position to judge them for it. That’s probably one of the biggest things that I have learnt, particularly being in a lower socio-economic area. Everybody has a story and sometimes you just need to be that ear.

Something I believe helps breaks down barriers with people is stepping outside the box; don’t be afraid to be a little different and step outside your comfort zone. Put a little of yourself out there so you can be more relatable to customers and don’t be afraid to use your own personal experience.

Being able to understand people and being emotionally intelligent really plays a big part because I can really gauge the depths of people’s emotions. Maybe they are a little bit stand-offish today because they are going through something. You just have to be that listening, non-judgemental ear for people. All we can do is listen to people and try to advise them from there.

How did you find the Workshop day and your PATY experience?

The State Workshop day was great! All those team building activities are right up my alley. I love connecting with people and it gives us more to think about. You can go back and instil more positivity in the pharmacy and more ideas, and get people thinking about situations in different ways. It’s a big ‘get out of your comfort zone’ area – it was great, and I really enjoyed it.

Why do you think PATY is important?

PATY gets you connected with other like-minded people. I walked into the State Workshop day and I was wondering what the other pharmacy assistants would be like, and found they are exactly like me. They have a passion for exactly what I do and I got to meet those like-minded people in real life. We are all trying to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s important.

Do you have a favourite area of the pharmacy or somewhere of particular interest?

My employer really got me learning a lot of new things and pushed for me to learn a lot about vitamins. I was able to reach out to different reps and go to different training days. I’ve expanded my knowledge on vitamins and natural medicines so much in the last couple of years. I really enjoy knowing how they work in the body and how our body reacts to different medicines. I really like understanding the anatomy of how natural medicine and prescribed medicationis not just as clean cut as we think sometimes.

I’ve also really enjoyed learning about sleep apnoea. I’ve opened up a lot of avenues for people with sleep apnoea and managed to break down those barriers for them to have that conversation with somebody and to help them realise how important their health is to them. I feel like I’ve made a big difference with our customers. There are about ten customers that I have put on the machines and have made their quality of life just that little bit better. It’s a big thing for me that I’ve been able to help customers. 

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