Isolation, recruiting staff and juggling a whole lot of balls at once are key challenges facing rural pharmacists. Rural pharmacy owner Courtney McMahon MPS talks about the challenges and the rewards.
How did you become a rural pharmacy owner in Biloela, central Queensland? Biloela is my hometown and I was lucky enough to be taken on as a junior back when I was about 15.
I continued to work there during school and university holidays under two great mentors, Shane Britnell and Naomi Bath.
Naomi and I remained in contact and in 2016 she approached me and asked if I would be interested in moving from Noosa back to Biloela and buying into the business.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face?
Staffing can be a real challenge – you have limited options with a smaller population. Lack of access to doctors and specialists can also be really challenging.
But there are so many great aspects to working in a rural area, other than a more attractive salary, that are often overlooked by pharmacists: more agreeable working hours, extremely short commutes to work and an altogether more relaxed lifestyle and work-life balance.
What do you find most satisfying?
It is extremely rewarding to know that, if every day I go to work and do the absolute best I can for my customers, it will directly affect not only the business but also the community I serve in a positive way.
We as pharmacists are really trusted healthcare professionals, but being an owner of a pharmacy in this small community means that people don’t only trust me because I’m a pharmacist, they trust me because they know me.
For me the experiences that really stand out though are when family members come in and thank you after you’ve assisted their loved ones.
Anything you wish you’d known before embarking down this career pathway?
It is essential to back yourself and surround yourself with people who support you wholeheartedly.
There will always be those who make you question yourself from time to time. While it is important to be self-critical and examine your decisions, it’s equally as important to have confidence and belief in yourself.
I am really lucky to have my family close by and a partner (who I actually met here in Biloela) who are so supportive of me and my goals.
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A day in the life of Rural Pharmacy Owner Courtney McMahon MPS,
Biloela Medical Centre Pharmacy and Biloela Discount Chemist
5.30am: Morning workout
If I get in any exercise for the day, this is when it happens!
6.30am: Prepare for the day
Usually I’ll go over any emails or correspondence while I eat breakfast and prepare for the day ahead.
8.30am: The pharmacy opens
The mornings are usually crazy so it’s mainly focussed on our professional role in dispensing and patient counselling etc.
Meetings with the nursing home and doctors when necessary.
10.30am to 2.00pm: Power through lunch
There’s usually only one pharmacist (me) in the store, so I eat lunch on the run and deal with any Webster changes.
2.00pm: Reach out to the community
We send out the daily nursing home delivery and any other deliveries.
2.30 to 3.00pm: Prep for tomorrow
Ensure any orders we need for next-day delivery are in.
3.00 to 5.00pm: The after-school rush
I also continue checking DAAs and make sure we’re up to date with banking, stock reporting and any other administrative jobs.
5.00 to 7.00pm: Stay on top of things
If I have any work leftover I’ll stay and complete this after hours. If we have a staff meeting we’ll also do this once we are closed.
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