Pharmacy with a twist

Tue, 28 Apr 2020
Anthony Curro Pharmacy Graduate

When Anthony Curro completed his pharmacy degree at JCU as a mature aged student, he had no idea that a career in pharmacy would lead him back to the sugar cane fields.

After working in a variety of community pharmacies in the Townsville area including a stint on Magnetic Island, Anthony discovered that his scientific knowledge could also be transferred to the agricultural industry.

“I grew up in the Burdekin region and so came from a rural agricultural background. I was involved in the family farm before deciding to pursue my interest in health and complete a Bachelor in Pharmacy.  After a stint of working in community pharmacy, I had the opportunity to take on a position as Innovations Officer for a natural resource management agency, looking at how the farming industry could improve the health of the Barrier Reef by reducing sediment, nutrient and pesticide run-off,” said Anthony.

“I found that the scientific background I gained from my pharmacy degree came in handy for the research and development side of the agricultural industry. There are actually a lot of similar principles between human health and agronomical crop health.”

Now working for Sugar Research Australia as a Regional Coordinator for the Burdekin sugar cane region, Anthony explains his role as being that of a ‘translator’, and is grateful for the focus on communication skills that a degree in pharmacy surprisingly also offers.

“My main role is to link with researchers, to determine what their learnings are and to apply it back to practical applications on the land. In any one day I’ll cover biosecurity incursions, energy inefficiencies, soil testing and plant health issues and then communicate that back to the growers.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this role without having my Bachelor of Pharmacy behind me. Not just because of the scientific knowledge I gained, but also because of all the training we received in how to communicate and engage effectively with customers and patients.  In my job I have to facilitate fairly large meetings between growers, researchers and industry lobby groups and deal with some strong personalities which can be a massive challenge.”

Although Anthony is happy to have transferred his people management and health science skills to the benefit of the local sugar cane industry, he also continues to work in community pharmacies on a part-time and/or locum basis which keeps his registration as a pharmacist current.

“There is always plenty of work as a pharmacist if I want it and I still find it a very rewarding job to do. And now with the coronavirus there’s a lot of community pharmacies that need help as they are having to split their workforce into separate teams in order to mitigate risk. If one member of a team is infected, then the other team can step in to maintain key pharmacy services to the community.”

Having a degree in pharmacy has provided Anthony with various work options which he feels very fortunate to have.

“The Bachelor of Pharmacy was a challenging degree to do but I would definitely recommend it if you have an interest in health and you enjoy helping people. Plus it gives you a whole other skill set in communicating and engaging with people, and leaves you with a mindset that is systematic and strategic. It gives you a great general skill set which can open so many other doors for your career.

“Whether you stay in community or hospital pharmacy, or do something completely different like I did, a degree in pharmacy can set you up for life.”