Future Students Rural Pharmacy: Caring for community

Rural Pharmacy: Caring for community

For James, studying Pharmacy proved the perfect prescription.

Discover how JCU Pharmacy Alumni, James Sang-Hun Oh, is building a career in rural community pharmacy filled with adventure, skills and impact.

Horseshoe Bay at Bowen, Queensland.

Shortly after graduating from JCU's Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) degree last year, James Oh moved to Bowen – a small coastal town nestled at the tip of the Whitsundays – to commence a rural community pharmacy internship.

James is currently honing his clinical skills between two local community pharmacies. He says providing primary healthcare services to the Bowen community is extremely rewarding.

“When you're in a rural or remote area, you're a real asset," he says. "You can learn and do more. I think that's the real beauty of rural work, and that's part of the reason why I chose to do my internship in Bowen.

“You get to do a little bit more, and the people are just nicer. Overall, I think rural is the place to be.”

Read on to discover the highlights of James's rural community pharmacy internship.

Working within a rural community pharmacy, James gets to expand his scope of practice while treating and triaging a variety of interesting and diverse patient presentations.

“Bowen is a rural town that doesn’t have the same access to healthcare services like you would get in Townsville or Brisbane," he says. "Because of this, we see cases not typically seen in metropolitan areas, which makes every day interesting.”

James describes making a positive impact to the lives of people in need as a career highlight.

“I would say the highlight of working in Bowen is taking time with each patient in the private consult room, giving them undivided attention with a health practitioner and providing care at the top of my scope. You can see how much it means to people when you help them get the care they need.”

James also supports local health professionals with medication and patient care enquiries.

“Building relationships with the other health professionals in town has been really good,” he says. "Local doctors, nurses and dentists will often give us a call for our input on patient care or to clarify questions they have about medications. The LiveLife pharmacies in Bowen are one of the best operated pharmacies I have ever worked in. It feels like I can really apply what I have been taught at university here.”

After gaining 644 hours of hands-on placement experience throughout his degree, James gained real-world exposure practising in diverse clinical and community pharmacy settings serving regional, rural and remote communities across Queensland.

James’s passion for rural and remote health began during his undergraduate studies, with nearly all of his placements based in rural locations.

“You get to learn a lot more, and you get to do a lot of cool stuff under expert supervision in rural and remote areas. I think it really builds your confidence and competency, which shows at the graduate level when compared to other people from universities who did a limited number of placements.”

Practising as a rural community pharmacist, James has been able to strike a good work-life balance and has immersed himself in the local community.

"In my opinion, working as a rural community pharmacist has one of the best work-life balances in health care," James says. “Most days I work 8.30 am to 5.30 am. I get two to three days off a week and never work past 6 pm. The LiveLife team are amazing. When I’m off, I don’t need to worry about work, which gives me lots of time to do extracurricular activities. I would say community pharmacy gives you loads of time to do what you want outside of work. I am really enjoying it.”

Living in the picturesque Whitsunday region, James is spoilt for choice for things to do and places to explore during his downtime.

“Bowen is a small town, but that means I’m close to everything” he says. “I live out of town, so it’s a five-minute walk to the beach, a five-minute drive to work and a ten-minute drive to the other side of town. You can’t ask for much more than that.

“On the weekends, my partner and I go on hikes to some of the more secluded beaches and lookouts in Bowen or walk our dogs down the pier. I have signed up for the local gym that has just opened, and I have put my name down for the pharmacy touch football team.”

James is supporting the implementation of expanded community pharmacy services in Bowen and plans to participate in the Queensland Community Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot later this year.

“I’ve registered for cohort three of the prescribing trial beginning later this year,” he says.

“The preceptors have been welcoming and encourage any new ideas I have for the future of the pharmacy. I have had the opportunity to help with the implementation of a few new services being introduced to the pharmacy in the coming months, like the pharmacist prescribing trial.”

James also commutes two-and-a-half hours to Mackay once a week to tutor JCU pharmacy students, which contributes to his future goals of working with and doing postgraduate study at JCU.

“I help with the S2 and S3 classes. Working with the second and third-year pharmacy students will help me get my foot in the door towards lecturing at JCU in the future.

“I’ll finish my internship next year, work for a few months and then enrol in the Masters degree at JCU,” he says. “When I get more qualifications, I want to lecture part-time and keep doing community practice.”

"JCU Pharmacy is one of the best places to learn the skills and knowledge to become a Pharmacist. We have one of the highest amounts of clinical placement time, allowing you to apply your learning and making JCU graduates highly sought after. After 20 years, you can find JCU Pharmacy alumni just about everywhere!"

Associate Professor John Smithson

Head of Pharmacy

JCU's College of Medicine and Dentistry

Associate Professor John Smithson  Head of Pharmacy

Be part of the community

Explore opportunities to make a positive contribution to the ongoing health of patients. JCU's Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) is an accelerated degree that can equip you for a variety of community or clinical settings.