Discovering hidden gems with rural placements

  • United Chemists Yorketown, SA
    United Chemists Yorketown, SA
  • Left-right: Alligator Gorge, View from accommodation in Meningie, Waterfall Gully and Cradle Mountain.
    Left-right: Alligator Gorge, View from accommodation in Meningie, Waterfall Gully and Cradle Mountain.
Swee-Wan Carpenter
Swee-Wan Carpenter, Locum Pharmacist

I am fortunate to have a profession that allowed me to indulge in my love for travel while exploring the vast landscapes of Australia.

My love for working in rural and remote areas led me to apply to the Australian Government-funded Rural Locum Assistance Program (Rural LAP). A colleague who knew me well suggested I apply and at first, the idea seemed overwhelming. But I lodged the paperwork and the next thing I knew, a pharmacy I held dear secured me for a position. After some contemplation, I decided to take the plunge. With my husband's unwavering support, we gathered all the necessary information, and I scheduled an appointment with my doctor for the required blood test. Little did I know this decision would mark a turning point in my career.

The unique places I visited offered a window into different cultures and introduced me to wonderful locals. Working from sea to countryside and remote locations allowed me to practice my profession more intimately with patients, leading to satisfaction in my career.

The highlight of last year was my placement in Hopetoun, Western Australia. My husband and I seized the opportunity to explore the Margaret River region and ventured south, immersing ourselves in the beauty of the national parks.

This year took me to the wilderness state of Tasmania. To extend my stay, my husband and I explored the rugged beauty of western Tasmania, including the challenging eight-hour hike up Cradle Mountain, featuring two hours of exhilarating bouldering.

The journey continued to South Australia, with placements in Maitland, Meningie, and Port Pirie. Despite the long work hours, often exceeding 45 hours per week, being a locum was a welcomed helping hand, ensuring pharmacists in these areas could take a well-earned break.

On my days off, I discovered hidden gems like the Stoney Hut Bakery on the highway and embraced nature through hikes in Alligator Gorge and from Waterfall Gully to Mt. Lofty.

The variety in each pharmacy and the diverse laws of each state presented challenges, but for me, the adrenaline rush of the unknown was invigorating.

As I slowed down to reflect, it became clear why the Rural LAP had such stringent requirements. The health of the regions we provide locum support and our well-being was paramount. The beauty was that the Rural LAP program officer handled everything, leaving me with the simple task of showing up at my placement and doing what I loved — working as a locum pharmacist.

Some may find comfort in routine, but I revelled in the opportunity to embrace the unfamiliar. Each new place taught me invaluable lessons, and the people I met along the way enriched my perspective. One of the most comforting aspects was the insurance coverage, encompassing the entire duration from the day I left home until my return. This security became particularly valuable during times of health alarms, such as the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to Rural LAP exploring the unknown became a seamless part of my professional journey. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to challenge myself in the field I love.

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