Sam’s Rural Pharmacy Experience
Master of Pharmacy student Sam recounts his four-week rural placement in Western Australia, where he was able to experience healthcare in a remote setting.
Throughout my master’s degree, I have been fortunate enough to participate in many pharmacy placements within the community and hospital settings. Most recently, I was lucky enough to go on community placements in Karratha and Newman, located in rural Western Australia.
The four-week placement was split into week intervals at four different community pharmacies. Placements act as a fantastic opportunity for me to explore how pharmacies operate differently within Australia and in particular, highlights both the barriers and advantages that are apparent when providing healthcare in remote settings.
After visiting these sites, my perception of the barriers to providing healthcare completely changed. The complexities faced by those in rural areas included waiting times for GP appointments, travelling hours for specialised appointments and limited timely access to pharmaceuticals. From these hardships, the role of the pharmacist appeared to prevail whereby patients relied heavily on their expertise. This allowed for an intensive learning environment whereby I progressed my knowledge in the provision of healthcare.
Whilst on placement, my student colleague and I also spent a day with an Indigenous community member who taught us various aspects of their culture. One aspect I found particularly interesting was their traditional lore which they lived by.
Tribal codes such as restrictions around making eye contact and not being in the same rooms of others were abided by out of their respect for Elders or other members of the tribe who were of authority. Education regarding culture facilitated our ability to interact with the demographic. On one of the days, we visited the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS). Here the Indigenous community had access to a variety of medical facilities which included pharmacy services. This exposure was very unique as patients still spoke their traditional tribal languages and practised traditional ways of life.
Apart from attending placement days during the weeks, we also explored the surrounding areas on the weekend. Places visited including national parks, water holes and the unique coastline of Western Australia. The surroundings were like no other I had ever witnessed, long stretches of barren land, red dirt surroundings, and ridiculously high heats.
All in all, the placement opportunity was one of a unique nature that I am grateful for being a part of. It has given me an alternate perspective on the ways pharmacy practice is performed and has built upon skills that I can transfer in everyday practice.