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Written By

Andrew Cramb

College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

6 July 2021

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Are you looking for a job with variety, opportunities and impact? JCU Remote Pharmacy Academic Selina Taylor explains why you should pursue a career in pharmacy and why northern Queensland is the place to do it.

Not only is Selina dedicating her own professional career to filling the urgent need for pharmacists in regional Queensland, she’s equipping others to do the same. For more than a decade, Selina has worked at the Centre for Rural and Remote Health (CRRH) in Mount Isa. She supports students on placement, runs an internship program and assists with the ongoing professional development of regional pharmacists.

Selina is clearly doing great things in the field of pharmacy, and yet it wasn’t the path she had thought she would be taking after high school.

“I was actually considering teaching as my first choice,” Selina says. “But it so happened that I was working in a community pharmacy in high school with a pharmacist who was in this role with the Centre [CRRH]. With his support I began considering pharmacy. I wasn’t sure about it though; I didn’t think I would be smart enough for it. I was the first person in my family to go to university.”

“Living in a remote area like Mount Isa was another factor. The transition from a remote home to university land can be quite confronting. But I went away and started the degree and really enjoyed it.”

Just like Selina, you may not have considered pharmacy as a career option. She knows it is not for everyone, same goes for living and working in a place like Mount Isa. But for the right person it’s a dream job and can open endless, rewarding opportunities. Selina recently shared some of the key reasons she loves being a pharmacist in regional northern Queensland…

Now's the time

Pharmacists make connections and a lasting difference

Pharmacists, particularly in regional settings, are an integral part of the healthcare system. They are part of the frontline health worker group that enables hospital patients and the wider community to stay healthy and access the medication, advice and other treatments they need.

“Every time you consult or discuss with the patient, their medicines, their health, or how just how they're feeling that day, you are making a connection with them that has measurable effects,” Selina says.

As a pharmacist you will form relationships with patients to maintain health and improve their acute and chronic disease outcomes.

“Every day I would come home from work in the community pharmacy and feel as though I've made a difference in someone's life. It wouldn't even have to be something dramatic. It could be something as simple as helping a patient manage a cold, and having that person come back and tell you how effective what you offered was for them”.

“Pharmacists are highly trusted. Our patients come to us for help with ailments and for advice on navigating the health system. We are able to support them as they work to improve their health.”

You can fill an urgent need for pharmacists in regional areas

There are more than 1,000 community pharmacies across regional Australia and more than 400 situated in regional towns with a single pharmacy. Many pharmacies in country towns are struggling to attract and retain permanent staff.

“The numbers have never been high for pharmacy graduates going regional after placement,” Selina says. When you look at somewhere like Mount Isa, we are quite remote. We do struggle for pharmacists. We do get locum [short-term] pharmacists coming through the region, but we need graduates to come and stay rural.”

By choosing pharmacy and pursuing this career in a regional area, you will join what Selina calls ‘the backbone of healthcare’, a core permanent health workforce providing for communities in need.

“In some remote communities you do get fly-in fly-out services, but there is tremendous value in having a pharmacist there permanently. They’re the ones who get to know the community. They know the health disparities and they know the challenges and opportunities patients have in remote practice and how to assist in navigating the health system.”

But going out to ‘the middle of nowhere’ doesn’t mean you’ll be out on your own. JCU, through initiatives like the Centre for Rural and Remote Health (CRRH) is supporting students to make the most of rural placement experiences. Funded by the federal government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program, the centre offers training opportunities across a range of disciplines to address health workforce maldistribution.

Through her work with the CRRH, Selina has seen students who have taken up the challenge, and fallen in love with the work and the lifestyle.

“The right kind of person has to come to a place like Mount Isa, and love what they do out here and love the people and love the place. And you'll find people that do come, they plan to come for a year, but they stay for five. There are really good career opportunities for pharmacists out here, which makes them want to stay in a place like this.”

The opportunities are many and varied

Pharmacy is an interesting career path with endless opportunities. In her role, Selina is seeing the pharmacy profession branch out with exciting and diverse roles for graduates to consider.

“You could go into community pharmacy practice. Here you’re able to have such a big influence on people’s health,” Selina says. “You meet with them regularly as they come in to collect medicines and you get to build really nice relationships.

“There are hospital pharmacists, who perform an integral role to the provision of acute pharmacy services. Particularly in rural and remote areas, our hospital pharmacist plays such a huge role in medication management in the hospital setting.”

“Pharmacists also conduct home medicine reviews in the community, educate patients on the management of their diabetes and work in a GP practice or Aboriginal medical service providing consultancy advice to prescribers and education to patients amongst other things,” Selina says.

Out here's the place

JCU will prepare you

Two-thirds of JCU Pharmacy graduates from regional, rural or remote areas ended up working in those areas – helping address a shortage of health professionals outside major cities.

Selina has done all her tertiary education with JCU, from her Bachelor of Pharmacy, Masters of Pharmaceutical Public Health, to now undertaking a PhD.

“JCU is a great university to study pharmacy. It's got smaller class sizes, and you have a greater connection with your lecturers, who are an absolute wealth of knowledge and support for you for your degree,” Selina says.

“You're not just one of many hundreds of students, you’re known by name, and the staff at JCU go above and beyond to support students through their degree.

"You get an opportunity to expose yourself to rural pharmacy practice, which for me, I think is one of the most exciting and opportunity-laden areas in pharmacy," Selina says.

Come for the job and stay for the lifestyle

As Selina and many other JCU graduates who pursue careers in regional Queensland can tell you, the lifestyle and the community can be a major drawcard. As a Mount Isa local for most of her life, Selina is well and truly embedded in the local community, but she says the friendly and welcoming atmosphere is there for everybody.

“My favourite thing about living in Mount would probably be my neighbours. I live in a very social street with lots of children and young families. There's not an afternoon that goes by that I couldn't walk outside and have a drink with my neighbours. There's always support for someone to take a walk around the block and wind down and talk about a good day or a bad day," Selina says.

Selina also makes the most of the outdoors and natural beautify of the region, as much as she can with three energetic boys aged five, four, and two.

“We love being outdoors, the boys love being on their bikes and riding through the street. We love going down the road to feed the camels or going to the pool for a swim, going down to the river when it rains and heading out camping or visiting a cattle property nearby."

“I think that the Isa is a place where people will thrive if you come here with a good outlook, and are willing to have a go and get involved and say yes to opportunities that come your way.”
Selina Taylor, JCU Remote Pharmacy Academic

Selina with her three boys
Selina's kids playing at the local watering hole
Selina and her son feeding camels
Left: Selina and her three boys. Top right: Selina's boys enjoying an afternoon at the local watering hole. Bottom right: Selina and her son feeding camels.

Find out more today

Are you interested in a career in pharmacy? Or perhaps like Selina, it wasn’t something you first considered. Pharmacy is a great career, and Selina knows the kind of person who will thrive in the profession.

“Pharmacy suits a go-getter. Someone who likes to talk to people and take genuine care and interest in their patients, someone who enjoys understanding the science and how medicines work to treat disease.  It also suits someone keen to learn continuously. Pharmacy is one of these professions where you never stop learning," Selina says.

Click the Explore button below to find out more or contact the JCU Student Centre on 1800 246 446.

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