Meet our deadly IAHA Member Chastina Heck – Bachelor of Pharmacy


Who’s ya mob, where ya from and what are you studying/graduate?

My mob are Nywaigi (North Queensland) and Bidjara (Central Western Queensland) with ties also to the Mamu mob (North Queensland) through my grandmothers side of the family.  I graduated a long time ago now in 2005 with a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Queensland and I also received a Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Pharmacy from the same institution in 2010.


Who are your female role models or mentor growing up and why?

I’m not sure I had a specific role model growing up, but certainly Faye McMillian who was the first Aboriginal pharmacist in Australia has been someone I’ve been looking up to in the last 5-10 years or so.  Not only because she shares the same profession as myself but also because of her higher education pursuits which is something I hope to do one day.  It’s meant a lot to me in having the opportunity to connect and learn from her.  Having someone in her position say she is proud of what I do, fuels my desire to be the best I can be.


Dealing with Covid-19, What are some positive coping strategies you have picked up during this time regarding your health and wellbeing?

Certainly in the beginning of the pandemic I was really stressed as family and friends were looking to me because of my health background for advice on what to do.  I also feared for what this might do to our elders and communities and seeing some stories on facebook coming out of communities was detrimental to my own wellbeing and very overwhelming.

I’ve actually really enjoyed tuning into the IAHA webinar series in combination with many other deadly health professions and organisations.  I have taken away so many important gems from each presentation which has improved my wellness but also my clinical practice and understanding.  I particularly loved the session on traditional healing and meditative practices.  Participating in this webinar made me stronger spiritually in strengthening my own being and knowing that connection to self and country plays such a significant role in wellness.  As healthcare professionals we also need to educate ourselves and engage with ways to keep us well to provide quality care during extraordinary times.


 What do you enjoy most about being a pharmacist?

At first the ability to heal and provide health advice without the need to wait to see a doctor, I thought was really amazing.  The skills required to diagnose ailments and provide relief when someone walked into a pharmacy was a brilliant contribution to that persons life.  As time has gone on I’ve enjoyed being the “problem solver” in helping someone achieve optimal medicines management whether it be with suggestions to doctors about changing doses or formulations; giving advice on side effect management to patients; or even ways to assist in remembering to take tablets or store them when travelling!  Pharmacists don’t just put labels on bottles and boxes – it’s a lot more complicated than that.  Most recently I’ve become passionate about pharmacists knowing their healthcare environment to be able to keep patients safe through transitions of care and to support their quality use of medicines – which ironically sometimes means less medications!  The role of pharmacists is evolving and I’ve been really thankful to be involved with a group of passionate pharmacists working in Aboriginal Medical Services, especially in the community controlled health sector.  Our culture is all about connectedness and as I grow in my journey, it becomes more and more apparent as to how important this is.  I think great opportunity exists to further build upon pharmacy services to mob in a truly connected way.  I’d love to see hospital pharmacists working more closely with the community controlled health sector to access specialist advice, and hopefully lessons learnt from COVID-19, access to such services will increase through what we’ve learnt from telehealth and providing services away from the hospital or clinic.


What are your thoughts leading up to NAIDOC Week?

The theme for NAIDOC week 2020 is really powerful for me  – Always was, Always will be.  Aboriginal healers and medicine people were the first pharmacists.  I feel that’s a really powerful idea to acknowledge.

For more on Chastina you can read her Journey in to Allied Health here:

September 24, 2020


Posted by: Renae Kilmister