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Otago pharmacy students enjoy a night of celebration

Georgia Merton 01 September 2017, 1:20PM
Otago pharmacy students enjoy a night of celebrationSuccess at the pharmacy school was celebrated at the awards night.
Photo: Rewa Pene

It was a night spent celebrating success, service and white coat fashion at the first Green Cross Health University of Otago Pharmacy Awards held on 11 August.  

With over 150 people and 47 awards, the evening was a great success, according to Rewa Pene, marketing and communications coordinator at the School of Pharmacy.  

"There were staff, students and our external guests, who were preceptors and alumni," says Ms Pene.  "Being able to bring it together and make it a big night was great."  

The award recipients were not just limited to students. The successes of staff and preceptors (pharmacists who support pharmacy students on their placement programmes) were recognised as well.  

According to the dean of the school, Carlo Marra, the awards were "a great opportunity to recognise our broader community that really participate in education of our students."  Professor Marra, who took on his role as dean last year, says their students are a group of very talented individuals and they distinguish themselves in a variety of different ways. 

Ms Pene says what the students achieve is pretty amazing, and there were some key winners who took home a lot of awards. Siobhan Hodson, a fourth-year student from Invercargill, cleaned up with five awards, including the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand prize.  

"I thought it was really good; nice to see a whole lot of different people in different areas of pharmacy succeeding, having awards for research, teaching, student and preceptors," says Miss Hodson. 

There were three awards for standout preceptors, one for each in rural, hospital and community settings. These went to Graham Provis, Hannah Soper and Karen Crisp, respectively.  

"These pharmacists take on our placements and make a huge difference in a student's education," says Ms Pene, "so we're focusing on the need to strengthen those relationships and recognise what they do for us," she says.  


According to Professor Marra, the school has always had a really good relationship with the pharmacists when students go out and do experiential learning. Ms Pene says that as a part of the changing curriculum, which was a talking point at the awards ceremony, there's a focus on engagement with the community and leaning on these placements more.  

The success of the staff was celebrated, too, and there were some new awards this year, on top of those for research and publications.  

"This year we introduced an Excellence in Teaching award and Innovation in Teaching award. It really just recognises that side of what the staff do, as well as all the work they've put into changing the curriculum," says Ms Pene.   

Though the students had shed their white coats for the evening, their usual dispensary attire still made an appearance, with a white coat fashion show to decide which new design the school will take on next year.  

"The student models were hilarious, dancing around, and we judged by applause which one the students liked best," says Ms Pene.  

"With the movements of pharmacy we've decided to move with the times and be more up to date with our style," she says.  

Ms Pene says the awards evening was a nice way for staff and students to mingle in a more relaxed ­atmosphere.  

"Everyone was dressed up, there was wine and cheese at the start, great food, balloons and a photo booth," she says.  

"Along with recognising staff and students, it's also been really good for our relationship with external stakeholders, through Twitter, social media and our newsletter. It's just involving them in what we do a bit more," says Ms Pene, and she also says Green Cross was really impressed with the event and keen to sponsor again next year.  

"We had Alison Van Wyk from Green Cross announce the next ceremony, which will be 23 March next year," says Ms Pene. Next year's event is set to be even bigger and better, and community pharmacist Ian McMichael has already put his hand up to be MC.


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