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Lauren is the change she wants to see in rural pharmacy

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Changing careers, Health, Online study
Rural pharmacy student Lauren

Becoming a small-town pharmacist is a dream come true for Lauren, who has spent a lifetime involved in the health of her community. She just needed the right online program to support her goals.

As a young girl, Lauren would wait for her father to finish working in the butcher shop next to the pharmacy in her small town on NSW’s Mid North Coast.

“While I waited, I would go in and talk with Mr. Wilson (the pharmacist), help tidy their shelves, watch him make creams, and listen to him talk with customers.” 

Lauren began working there as a teen, learning as much as she could from the pharmacist after school and during school holidays. She began a Certificate II in Community Pharmacy during her final year of high school then took a gap year where she worked full-time in the pharmacy before starting a nutrition degree.

“I desperately wanted to change my university preference from nutrition to pharmacy, but I couldn’t afford the move to Sydney.”

After spending many years working as a clinical nutritionist, Lauren felt burnt out.

“I hadn’t achieved my desire of helping people,” she says, so she returned to her hometown.

Aware of the constant struggle to retain pharmacists in small towns, Lauren decided to be a part of the solution and finally follow her true passion to a Bachelor of Pharmacy at a nearby university.

“I felt the degree wasn’t as patient and community focused as I had hoped,” she says.

I met a fellow CDU pharmacy student during placement, and she told me of the wonderful supportive environment she was studying in, and I longed for such a wonderful experience.

Lauren soon applied for the new Master of Pharmacy program at CDU.

Studying pharmacy online “feels like another family”

Pharmacy student Lauren studies online from her small town

Now partway through her studies, Lauren isn’t looking back.

“I like that I didn’t have to move my family to another state, and it is fantastic that I can complete my studies but still be actively involved in my community, with my children and their interests, and remain on our farm,” she says.

The pharmacy faculty have done an exceptional job of ensuring we are well informed and connected, despite being in all different areas of the country.

“They have created an environment that feels like another family, and I know the friendships I have made during this study journey will be friendships I have for life.”

There are challenges, of course, when juggling rigorous study, work and family. Lauren doesn’t want to feel burnt out again, so she makes sure she stays organised and on track each week – as well as learning on the go.

“I’m renowned for listening to lecture recordings while working out at the gym, or in the car, while my boys train at rugby league, athletics or touch football.”

“I would not be able to be doing what I am without the availability of this program. If I’d had to leave my home, my family, my job, my community and my farm, I would not have been able to study.”

The future of small-town pharmacy

Pharmacy student Lauren helping her community

There is a looming shortage of pharmacists in regional, rural and remote areas across Australia. Lauren notes that this has been a problem for as long as she can remember.

“We could have fantastic pharmacists in tiny community pockets, but due to limitations of logistics and distance, these fantastic people have been unable to fulfil their study aspirations.”

This is where CDU’s online Master of Pharmacy really makes an impact in bridging the gap, allowing students to stay and study in the towns they love.

“The opportunities this program creates for many small, rural communities is unbeatable,” she says.

The degree is patient, community and culturally focused, and encompasses all the wonderful professional skills that we need in rural pharmacists.

“Our rural areas deserve and desperately need good quality health care and it is my mission to deliver this to the best of my ability.” 

Study the Master of Pharmacy at Charles Darwin University, or explore a related area with our variety of health certificates, diplomas and degrees.

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