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Pharmacist rescued by ‘knight in shining armour’ and resumes studies.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The University of Otago School of Pharmacy held its annual prizegiving in December, prior to the university’s official procession and graduation. Liane Topham-Kindley went along to meet some of the graduands and prizewinners

Auckland pharmacist Diana Phone was almost ready to quit pharmacy a year ago until her “knight in shining armour” came along. That “knight” is Auckland pharmacist Robbie Hannon, who took Diana under his wing at Waimauku Pharmacy northwest of Auckland. Because of his encouragement she continued working as a community pharmacist and undertook the Postgraduate Diploma in Pharmacy, graduating in December. 

After graduating with her Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from Otago in 2009, Diana spent the next few years working, initially as a locum, then as a pharmacist for several community pharmacies in south Auckland. The last pharmacy she worked in was very business focused and frustrated she was unable to do more clinical work, Diana says she was set to quit pharmacy all together. Then she met pharmacist Jillian Sutherland and Counties Manukau DHB pharmacy manager Trevor Lloyd who she describes as “great mentors”. They introduced her to Mr Hannon and the rest is history.

“Robbie was my knight in shining armour, he restored my confidence in pharmacy. “He encouraged me to do the postgraduate studies to build my confidence in pharmacy, he said ‘you have the ability and you are smart’ – two years down the track and I’m here.” Diana says the work she is currently doing is quite different to that she was doing a couple of years ago when she was unhappy. She is working in the dispensary but carries out medicines use reviews for customers and works closely with customers who are at high risk. She also does in-house training, helping teach technicians.

In the future Waimauku Pharmacy has plans to run some projects relating to patients with diabetes and those being discharged from hospital. “We have some projects in mind that would benefit community pharmacy, I’m very, very excited.” Diana was supported by her mother, Farida Bano and daughter, Aizah (6) at the graduation, both of whom have had a significant impact on her career. Aizah was due to be born on the day of her mother’s first undergraduate final year exam. However, she managed to time her arrival perfectly, with her mother going into labour two weeks later than scheduled and about four hours after her final exam. Diana jokes her daughter was listening to her instruction. “You know how you say you talk to your baby and they listen to you?” she smiles.

Diana shifted to New Zealand from Fiji 10 years ago to begin her university studies at Otago, her mother joined her and her husband, Ishfaq Bhatti, four years ago. Diana paid tribute to her mother, a solo parent, who had supported her throughout her studies. “She is my rock.”

D Phone with Family_square_418p
Auckland pharmacist Diana Phone was almost ready to quit pharmacy a year ago until her "knight in shining armour" came along.

Article written by Liane Topham-Kindley for PharmacyToday, December 2015