Sarah is the Australian expert in community pharmacists’ management of common acute conditions and consultation services. She has additional expertise in primary health care, pharmacy practice, health services research, knowledge translation and implementation of services.
She has led national and international pharmacy research projects and has published extensively in this area. Her specific research programs evaluate the clinical, humanistic, economic, and implementation aspects of a community pharmacy consultation service for the first time in the Australian health setting.
Sarah has extensive expertise and understanding of national and international policy and practice in this area, including consulting first-hand with international experts from the United Kingdom and Canada. She has an established collaborative national and international network with universities, professional peak organisations, researchers, health professionals, and industry.
Sarah is currently leading two high-profile research grants, awarded by the NSW Government, which involve the implementation and evaluation of the state-wide roll out of expanded scope of practice for pharmacists, to increase access to care to patients for clinical conditions such as urinary tract infections, oral contraception, and skin conditions.
These projects involve a consortium of 18 partner organisations and 18 chief investigators from major national universities. The outcomes of these trials will have a significant impact on primary healthcare delivery in Australia and the scope of practice for pharmacists nationally and internationally.
Sarah is also leading the implementation (pharmacy arm), as part of a broader team, a multi-year primary health network-commissioned project (Healthy North Coast - Primary care access project) which aims to improve access to health care in regional areas of NSW, through implementation of a new triage line which directly integrates with general practice and pharmacist consultations.
Sarah in her leadership capacity is Executive Committee Member, Community Pharmacy Section, International Pharmaceutical Federation.
Her work has been recognised locally and internationally, having received awards including the NSW Young Pharmacist of the Year (Pharmaceutical Society of Australia) in 2021, the International Excellence Award for Women in Science in Education in 2022 and the Champion for Change (International Pharmaceutical Federation) in 2020.
I started working in community pharmacy at age 15 and saw the profession as an exciting and constantly evolving one. Pharmacists directly impact patient health outcomes and I wanted to help people.
My research focuses on enhancing the role that pharmacists have on improving access to care and consumer health generally. I see great potential for pharmacists to work with other stakeholders in the health system to reduce the burden on emergency departments and general practice, so that minor ailments can be managed safely and effectively in community pharmacies.
Pharmacists can also play a key role in educating consumers about self-care as well as improving consumer skills and knowledge to access, understand and use information to make important decisions about medicines and their health.
My vision is to achieve evidence-based change in pharmacy practice. Community pharmacy must increasingly be part of primary care, including closer collaboration with medical practitioners, state, and federal governments and primary health networks – that’s where the future lies.
In the last few years, I have seen a change in the ‘traditional role’ of the pharmacist, an appetite for pharmacists to expand into new roles and be increasingly recognised as integral members of the primary care team.
Young pharmacists are stepping up as leaders, carving out innovative paths and advocating for the profession, so the opportunity to raise the bar and optimise the role of pharmacists as health-care providers is what excites me most.
My research focusses on the future needs of the health system.
This includes digital technology and interoperability, health providers working to full scope of practice and expansion in treatment options and access avenues, like advances in medical technologies and the potential for repurposing medicines and accessing clinical trials – with a sound implementation process and measurable outcomes.