Every year, Icon’s pharmacy division – which includes Icon, Epic and Slade pharmacies employs interns Australia-wide who work full-time under a supervising pharmacist. In 2019, Sam Wicks was one of them. She’s now a Registered Pharmacist across our Epic Wesley and St Andrew’s Brisbane pharmacies. Sam says her time with us has enabled her to develop her confidence and forge a progressive career.
Meet Sam Wicks
From Graduate Intern to Pharmacist: Pharmacist at Epic Wesley and St Andrew's Brisbane pharmacies
Naturally gifted in chemistry, it was an easy decision for Sam to enrol in a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of Queensland. After graduating in 2018, she joined Icon’s Intern Pharmacists program which operates across Icon, Epic and Slade pharmacies. Looking back on her time as an intern, Sam says it was a chance to experience a variety of clinical environments and connect with like-minded peers.
“I’d highly recommend the Internship Program – it was incredibly diverse. I really enjoyed shadowing different pharmacists across Epic’s Wesley and St Andrew’s Brisbane sites. We met up with the other interns for learning days throughout the year and formed a study group from there. Four of the interns are still at our pharmacy at Epic Wesley – it’s great to have this support network.”
It was also an opportunity for Sam to pursue an area of pharmacology she hadn’t previously considered.
“It was amazing to learn about oncology – it’s rare to learn about this area within the hospital pharmacy environment! When I started, I was intent on cardiology pharmacy, and I believed oncology would be too difficult. But I had a great oncology rotation during my internship – it really fascinated me. My supervisors have given me the confidence to further investigate it as a potential specialising field.”
Sam also says that Icon’s pharmacy division provides a truly supportive learning environment for interns and registered pharmacists alike.
“During our internship, we had a clinical educator who worked with our group throughout the year – providing us the tools and resources we needed to prepare for exams. All the pharmacists actively share their knowledge to help us. You don’t get lost in the crowd here – they really take an interest in you.”
A dynamic and supportive workplace
In recognition of her talent and commitment, Sam was offered a permanent position in 2020.
“After you’ve completed the graduate program, they didn’t just say ‘Ok, you’re all done!’ They’ll continue to invest in you.”
“They picked up that I was interested in oncology and so they decided to sponsor me to attend the COSA CPG Foundation Clinical Practice for Cancer Pharmacists conference (now postponed due to COVID-19). Icon’s pharmacy division is helping me pursue a specific interest whilst also ensuring I understand the fundamentals.”
When it comes to her day-to-day schedule, Sam splits her time between the Epic Pharmacy sites at Wesley and St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospitals. She’s on a different ward every day and clearly gets a kick out of the rapidly changing hospital setting.
“The day flies by. When I enter the ward in the morning, I look at the patient list to see who is being discharged that day and then counsel them on the medications they’ll need to take home. I’ll meet the new patients and talk to them about their medication. Then, I’ll check in with the nurses to see if they have any questions about medication.”
While patients tend to come and go, Sam says she feels very connected to her colleagues.
“We’re really close. All the pharmacists and technicians want to get to know you – they ask what’s going on in your day and share interesting cases with you. We have lunch together and play cards sometimes. It’s a great working environment with a lovely group of people.”
Are you a graduate pharmacist looking to kickstart your career?
Sam offers some words of encouragement to graduate pharmacists following in her footsteps.
“It can be intimidating starting out as an intern. But it’s important to remember that everyone was once in the same boat. You’ve done four years of study – you know so much more than you think you do. When you have the chance to apply this knowledge, you’ll realise your amazing capabilities. Being an intern with Icon’s pharmacy division helped me to learn to back myself and also develop the courage to ask for help when I needed it.”
Sam also says you should keep your options open and explore working with organisations with the scale for diversity.
“Over time, like me, you may develop an interest in a specialty field you haven’t even considered yet. There are more opportunities in pharmacy than many graduates realise. I’m so excited for what the future holds.”