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Pharmacist, community-focused rural practice & mum

I love learning and pharmacy has been a fantastic career as you can choose your own specialty as well as being a generalist in rural practice. I have been a pharmacist for approx. 32 years, in pharmacy at Prince Henry Hospital in Sydney before embarking on locum work in Forbes, Wee Waa, and Quirindi then going into business in Gunnedah. My two children have also chosen a career as pharmacists.

Being a community pharmacy owner is a fantastic career. You have flexibility with hours worked, who you employ, and what ideas you want to implement. Being a woman in business has had its challenges however that continues to improve and having great support enables you to thrive! It’s important to surround yourself with people to support you; my husband David works with me as a bookkeeper, and my family has been great advocators. I also have a team of pharmacists from my uni days and my accountants, Felicity and Mark, as well as Nicole at Instigo who are great for being a sounding board for new ideas, innovation in services and business goals. I studied the advanced diploma in Wound Care through Monash, because of my interest in wounds. We have a wound care clinic including the treatment of acute wounds such as a skin tear, burn, or graze. Seeing the results is extremely rewarding for me and the team.

Our sleep apnoea services allow our community to seek therapy locally. We are always volunteering for research projects to bring more services to our community such as medication reviews for First Nations People, people living with asthma, and those with severe mental health. What makes us different is we strive to go the extra mile to serve our patients, ensuring their health needs are fulfilled. This builds our team morale and ensures the business is a great environment for both our team and patients. We often evaluate what health services are not provided by allied health practitioners within the community and we will try and ensure this service can be provided in our pharmacy.

Glucojel Profit On A Platter

I am also an accredited pharmacist performing reviews in aged care facilities and in patient’s homes. This has taken me on great travels from Bourke to Lightning Ridge to perform reviews. One of my highlights is working collaboratively with the local physio who is a pilot – turning what would have been a 5hr drive to Bourke and Walgett, into a stunning 2-hour flight whilst bettering our patients’ health outcomes!

We have introduced a Webster packing robot and a dispensing robot to streamline processes and improve accuracy. Our profession is changing and in order to boost efficiencies and create a strategic point of differentiation in the long term we have had to review our processes and automate where possible. We have ensured that our systems are reliable and very simple to manage so that any pharmacist can step in and support our business and customers as required and without resulting in inefficiencies or deterioration to service levels. Rural practice has its challenges but this is outweighed by the many rewards. Looking after generations of our community is wonderful.

The Covid pandemic highlighted the need for community pharmacy as we kept our doors open, compounded hand sanitiser for local businesses when it was out of stock, travelled to Sydney to obtain stock of RAT kits, and set up walk-in vaccination clinics in store as well as off-site to improve the uptake of vaccination. We make the experience of being vaccinated very easy for patients and I am hoping we will expand our scope to allow more vaccinations to be able to be performed in pharmacy. Increasing the scope of practice in other areas such as COVID treatments and UTI treatment allows more access to treatments for our communities.

I try to always keep learning – conferences are fantastic to attend to share ideas and see what else you can bring back to your clinic. They can reinvigorate you and get you to think differently about your business and yourself. I would encourage women to go into business in community pharmacy as it is a very interesting, challenging and rewarding career!

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