Prescription for success

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FARZANA AHMAD catches up with a young pharmacist who brought home a state award

Ashish Steven David abides by the motto “Do the best you can in your profession and you will succeed. Whether you’re a doctor or a cleaner be the best worker you can be”.

The 24-year-old has been living and breathing this conviction as the Mental Health Clinical Pharmacist at Bankstown Hospital since 2013. Recently, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) recognised Steven’s quiet achievements and hard work by presenting him with the Young Pharmacist of the Year Award for NSW.

This is the Silver Award which the PSA has designated for young practising pharmacists under 35 years of age and with less than 10 years’ experience. One person in each state receives the award based on significant achievement in an area of excellence within the year or a recent period.

The winner is selected by the leaders of the profession as a model of best practice and innovation in advancing the pharmacy profession while maintaining the highest standards.

The Young Pharmacist of the Year receives the prestigious PSA Excellence Award silver medal and an educational grant valued at $8,000.

Steven was nominated for the honour by a member of PSA who had a chance to work with him and identify in him the credentials for being a winner. The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia presented the award to Steven at a ceremony held at Oatlands House in Oatlands on 4 July.

His hard work and stringent work ethics as a pharmacist sees Steven work closely with doctors, carers and patients to reach a shared decision regarding appropriate medication for patients, tailored to their individual needs.

Ashish Steven David.Indian Link
Ashish Steven David

In his work in the mental health unit, he engages with patients suffering from acute mental issues like schizophrenia, drug abuse and drug induced psychosis and depression on a daily basis.

To achieve the best possible outcomes, Steven disclosed, “We work to engage the patients and their families in the treatment. We have fortnightly sessions to help them understand the treatment and medicines. This allows us to form a partnership with them. We walk with them for the entire duration of the treatment, and at discharge we link them up with appropriate agencies for ongoing support.”

Steven is also a principal investigator of a national program for improving the rate at which cardiovascular diseases are monitored in mental health patients. “Our team designs and implements programs to make sure all the patients are screened for cardiovascular diseases,” he explained. “This helps in early diagnosis and treatment, preventing severe cardiovascular consequences like strokes.”

The Davids migrated to Australia from Bangalore, India in 2003. Steven started his schooling at Ingleburn High School as a Year 7 student, moving on to do his HSC from Regents Park Christian High School.

Reflecting on how he found the Australian educational environment compared to home, Steven opined, “I think we all face challenges when we are required to adjust to a new society but specifically, the Australian educational system, I think, is very different to what I was used to. There is equal opportunity for everyone here, so not everyone has to go to uni. It’s not like, if there is no uni there is no life. Everyone has opportunities, those who are at the top of the class and also those who are at the bottom. The system nurtures and develop the skills of each child individually, so you don’t have to become a doctor or an engineer, there are opportunities for everyone. That’s what I like about this system.”

“Also where in India we were forced to memorise and rote learn, here I found that the concepts are taught slowly resulting in a nurturing environment which allows a child to discover his interests and choose the best option for himself.”

Steven pursued a Bachelors in Medical Science and a Masters in Pharmacy at UTS. His internship at Bankstown Hospital resulted in his present engagement at the hospital.

From a career point of view, Steven believes that receiving the Young Pharmacist of the Year award is probably one of the best things that can happen to an emerging pharmacist in his early career. “I have been fortunate to have the right people in the right place at the right time to help me reach my goal and I have God to thank for it. Even though I am sitting along the lines of very elite professionals I feel humbled because I know how fortunate I’ve been on this journey.”

For young Indian Australians, Steven has this advice: “Put hard work in and you will reap the rewards. What gets you ahead is working smart and doing the right thing. Keep busy in doing the stuff that is important to you. Hold on to your own cultural values and don’t lose yourself in trying to fit in. Let other cultures be an experience rather than a consequence and you won’t go wrong.”

With his future looking bright, Steven believes this is just the beginning of greater things to come. His next goal is to compete for the Australian Pharmacist of the Year Award.

Go Steven, we’re all rooting for you!

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