Taroom Pharmacy owner Christie McLennan’s passion for rural life has won her the 2017 “Marsh” Rural Queensland Ambassador award
The pharmacist and Brahman cross beef producer grew up in the small town of Taroom, and returned to buy into the pharmacy after attaining her Bachelor and Master of Pharmacy at Griffith University.
Last week she was awarded the title of 2017 Rural Ambassador and will now go on to compete at the National Rural Ambassador State Finals at Adelaide Royal next year.
She told AJP that pharmacy and agricultural shows are two of her greatest passions, and encouraged pharmacists to consider expanding their horizons outside the cities to enjoy a more relaxed working environment.
“I’m a beef producer – my husband and I both have a beef operation background – I’m a mother of an 18-month-old and I own the pharmacy in Taroom,” says Ms McLennan.
“I sit on my local committee as the vice president of the Taroom Show Society, and also I’m the president of the South-West sub-chamber.”
She told the AJP that she has been involved with the Taroom Show since childhood.
“It’s one of the only events in the year that brings together all the community groups,” she says.
“There’s a competition for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re interested in, and it demonstrates some of the nicest things we have about our area and puts them on display.”
Ms McLennan stood out to the Rural Ambassador Award’s judges because of her long-standing and ongoing commitment to the show society, they said: she has been on the committee for seven years and was previously involved as an exhibitor.
As for pharmacy, Ms McLennan told the AJP that if it was compulsory for all pharmacy students to do at least one rural placement, she’d be “a happy woman”.
“I’ve always wanted to be a pharmacist. I was one of those nerdy kids who knew what I wanted to be when I was ten,” she says.
“The pharmacy’s been here as long as I can remember, and longer! I bought in as a partner in 2012 and bought the business outright at the end of 2013, and I’ve been here ever since.
“Taroom has around 700 people living here, and we service an area of about 1500.
“As far as the pharmacy goes, we’re last on the highway between here and Rockhampton before a four-hour drive. So we’re the last port of call on the highway.
“It’s a relaxed work environment. There’s time to spend with individual patients, making sure you get the best outcome for each person.”
Ms McLennan says locals are very supportive of local business, and of changes: they’ve welcomed the introduction of pharmacy vaccinations, for example.
“And today, we’ve just finished the diabetes screening trial and identified a few people at risk.
“So people are really happy to engage in the new services that we bring to them, and appreciate that we’re trying to be a bit different and are putting them at the centre of our business.”
Ms McLennan is also a diabetes educator.
She says she encourages pharmacists to consider a stint in the country, or at least outside the major cities.
“There seems to be a lot of perceived oversupply in the city, and we’re crying out for qualified and passionate pharmacists in the bush,” she says.
“And it doesn’t mean you have to look at a rural, isolated sort of position, there are lots of other major centres. But in general I don’t think people get out into the country often enough on a personal level to really think of it as a career opportunity.
“Taroom is a great town – a fantastic place to raise kids, there’s lots of things for young people to do and an almost excessively social young crew!”