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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : April 2005
professional Rural insights from student placement pharmacy professional updates In 2004, 160 fourth year students from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy, took advantage of the opportunity to participate in its Rural Placement Program. It is a chance for them to discover country New South Wales, to see first hand if there are any differences between rural and city pharmacies, and to see a little of the country along the way. CARISSA HANES was one of these students who spent part of her July break at Mark’s Pharmacist Advice in Dubbo. M Y first week on rural placement was completed under the supervision of Mark Rugendyke, of Mark’s Pharmacist Advice in Dubbo. Mr Rugendyke owns and operates this pharmacy of six staff in the main street of Dubbo. He is also involved with the Dubbo plains Division of General Practice. It was apparent from the first day that the majority of clientele at this pharmacy were ‘regulars’. Most customers were greeted by their first name, and likewise, most customers new Mark; he was regarded as an esteemed member of the community. Something that was definitely a first for me was observing the practice of customer ‘accounts’—many customers would charge purchases to their account. Dubbo has a large Aboriginal community and this is perhaps why this pharmacy had such an extensive diabetes range—they are the largest Diabetes Australia supplier in Dubbo. Mr Rugendyke also runs a methadone program, which was another first for me. Admittedly, I had been somewhat sceptical and judgmental of methadone programs, but after experiencing one firsthand, my opinions changed. Many patients did not meet the ‘stereotype’, and I was surprised to find some arrive in business suits during their lunch break for their dose. I learned to appreciate how a methadone program could genuinely help people recover from their addictions while allowing them to integrate back into the community and resume normal activities. Mr Rugendyke also found it, for the most part, to be a rewarding aspect of his practice. One of the highlights of my first week in Dubbo was accompanying Mr Rugendyke to an Aboriginal Health Care Facility. He was to educate some of the physicians there on hypertension as part of his work with the National Prescribing Service. I was surprised to find the physicians receptive, and Mr Rugendyke commented that once the doctors realised they weren’t being examined or threatened, they were quite accepting of his services. It seemed to me that there was a good rapport between Mr Rugendyke and most physicians in Dubbo; there was a sense of ‘team’ among the healthcare community that is often not evident in metropolitan areas. Adjusting to ‘rural life’ did not take long. Although there was a more relaxed feeling about the town, and people did not often seem in a hurry to go anywhere, Dubbo did not feel at all remote or isolated. All modern conveniences were available, as were modern-day facilities. Although a typical day would not be near as busy as the metropolitan pharmacy I was used to, I did enjoy being able to have the time to counsel every patient that came into the pharmacy. There was certainly not the quantity of interactions I was used to, but the quality was definitely enhanced. There was time available to genuinely help people and solve medication- related problems. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experiences of my first week in Dubbo. This was made all the more enjoyable by the friendly and accommodating nature of both my preceptor and the staff of Mark’s Pharmacist Advice. 242 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL 86 APRIL 2005 ARISSA Hane’s experience at Mark’s Pharmacist Advice shows, among other things, how pharmacy is changing, providing services not only to the community but the Division of Gen- eral Practice. Mark Rugendyke has recently taken on the role of MMR Facil- itator to the Outback Division of Gen- eral Practice. This involves travelling hundreds of kilometers to talk to GPs and pharmacists about home medicines reviews (HMRs) and how to implement them into normal practice. C Mr Rugendyke has certainly placed his pharmacy as part of the healthcare team in the rural community. ‘I’m a sole practitioner, and I find hav- ing a pharmacy student in the store keeps me on my toes—it makes me examine my practice as a pharmacist, and helps ensure I’m giving patients my best,’ he said. ‘Students bring a lot of knowledge with them, and there’s often an enjoyable cul- tural exchange that you don’t usually get in the bush.’ Mr Rugendyke said one useful tool was to have the student go over a medication review, and independently do it himself, as comparing notes at the end provided useful insights for student and pharmacist. The Guild provides some funding for accommodation and travel for the stu- dents to participate in this Rural Place- ment Program. The hope is that this short experience may encourage students to work in rural NSW when they graduate. If you have a pharmacy in rural NSW and would like to be part of the Rural Placement Program contact Carlene Smith on (02) 9966 8377 or carlene. email@example.com or Erin Jones at the Faculty of Pharmacy on (02) 9351 6789 or firstname.lastname@example.org.¦