Podcast Transcript: Regina Cowie - National Health Services Manager at Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API)

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​​​​Welcome to Your Pharmacy Career Podcast, proudly brought to you by Raven's Recruitment, Australia's leading specialist pharmacy recruitment agency. The podcast series is being created to shine a light on the diverse and inspiring careers of Australia's pharmacists. Each episode will focus on the varied career opportunities within the pharmacy industry by exploring the career paths taken by leaders in the fields of Community Pharmacy, Hospital, Industry, Government and Professional Organizations. Careers never follow a defined path. Everyone's story is different and unique in their own way. The podcast series will help you discover the world of opportunities that exist and reveal pathways to achieve your dreams and aspirations. Whether you are a pharmacy student, early career pharmacist, or simply looking for a change at any stage of your career, the podcast series is designed to help you navigate ways into a career and a life that you love. Your host of the podcast series is Allie Xu. Allie, herself a pharmacist, is now the founder of Global Pharmacy Entrepreneurs and a passionate advocate for pharmacists to grow, innovate, excel, and make a lasting impact in the world. It's now over to our host, Allie Xu.

[Allie Xu] Welcome to your pharmacy career podcast, this is Allie Xu. Thank you for your support and feedback for our last episode. It was so good to hear from Mahek, the current president of the Victorian Pharmacy Student Association (VPSA). If you are a pharmacy student and want to know how to get the most out of university life or become a student leader, make sure you listen to our last episode.

[Allie Xu] Today we're very lucky to have another special guest, Regina Cowie. Regina is the National Healthcare Service Manager at Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API). One of the leading healthcare and beauty companies in Australia, that is involved in pharmaceutical distribution, retailing and manufacturing.

[Allie Xu] In this episode, Regina shares her experience exploring the opportunities throughout Australia. Her experiences encompass various suburban, city and remote settings, including rural and remote support in Darwin, Northern Territory. She also shares her insights and offers her advice to empower all students and pharmacist alike to establish a successful pharmacy career.

[Allie Xu] Without further ado, let's welcome, Regina. Hi Regina, how are you today?

[Regina Cowie] I'm well, thank you Allie.

[Allie Xu] We're so glad to have you on the show. You have this really special pharmacists’ role, and now I’m sure a lot of pharmacy students and early career pharmacists are really curious and wanted to know more. Exactly what you do day in and day out? So tell us more about this or how did you get into pharmacy and what are you working on now?

[Regina Cowie] So, thanks for having me be part of this podcast. It's a great honour and pleasure. I don't usually like talking about myself so for you to convince me to do this is a tick.

[Regina Cowie] My role is quite special, and I feel very lucky and privileged to have such great supporting network and work for such a fantastic company. So I grew up in Sydney, and I really didn't have an interest in pharmacy, to be honest. I was very much focused on exercise, diet, and wellness in that space and eventually I got into a exercise and sports medicine degree at Sydney Uni. But I started working part time at a pharmacy. That was attached to a dermatologist. And it was quite interesting. The amount of work that we received from this dermatologist who was 15 years ago quite revolutionary and did things quite differently and we were making lotions and potions and creams that I think outside of normal pharmacy practice. It is quite rare now we'd call that a compounding pharmacy. Back in those days they were none formalised approach to compounding. So that got me quite interested in pharmacy. And I had some great mentors at Sydney Uni who said well it's probably best to finish this degree, and then go into pharmacy and I did a lot of my Anatomy and Physiology. So I got quite a bit of credit, moving into pharmacy. And I completed my pharmacy at the James Cook University, up in town so. And the reason for that was really the diversity. I wanted to do something quite different. I wanted to not just be a pharmacist who worked in a city pharmacy. Who dispensed and counselled patients on sore-throats and dispensing Amoxil. I wanted something more. So, I thought if I either moved up north, or over to WA. I'd be exposed to more rural and remote pharmacy practice.

[Allie Xu] So maybe from Sydney to Townsville, that’s a big jump.

[Regina Cowie] That’s a massive jump Allie and I remember getting off the plane. And it was raining, and I saw a cane toad for the first time in my life and just started crying. Thinking what have I done?

[Regina Cowie] Never seen a cane toad before. And it was definitely the right move. Beyond the scope of pharmacy practice in a rural and remote setting. Or more so from a direct in the middle of Sydney. I think I learned quite a lot more. I had some really great people and mentors around me so my pharmacy placements, were again, very much in rural and remote pharmacy. So I was very lucky to go to places like Mareeba, and I did a bit of work in the Northern Territory. It was a great foundation, and I don't know if I would have got those opportunities if I had studied and stayed in Sydney.

[Allie Xu] After you graduated from pharmacy school in Townsville, then, then what happened? Where, where did you go?  

[Regina Cowie] Yeah. So, this is really a challenge for young pharmacists because you want to get an internship and you want to learn as much as possible and I've always had this vision of making significant changes to people's lives and helping people in the community and not just in my community for community pharmacists’ perspective, but on a larger scale so I always had grand ambitions and changing the world and doing things differently. 

[Regina Cowie] I was working for Malouf, and it taught me a lot of great things. I did my internship at New Farm. I learned a lot of their processes and systems and really about how you communicate effectively in care. And then I was offered an opportunity after I finished my internship to manage a pharmacy now as a young pharmacist. Who those opportunities don't usually come as readily so I took this offer and was in Darwin. And I've had visions of the same thing happening when I got off the plane in Townsville. And it happened exactly the same when I got off the plane in Darwin and I've never felt such extreme heat, and again started crying and going. What have I done? I’m new to this oven of a place to further my career, and again, I learnt amazing, amazing things out there. Not only are you a community pharmacist and I was managing the pharmacy. 

[Regina Cowie] A couple in Darwin but it was more around a scope of practice so there aren't many health professionals out there, so you become really entwined with the other health professionals that are up there. So the collaboration with the doctors, for example, was nothing that I've ever experienced elsewhere. They rely so heavily on collaboration for patient care and outcomes that it really is best practice if you look across the globe. And you collaborate with other health professionals who do get better outcomes. Up there, they rely on that because they don't have a, for example, a physio that may be their full time and accessible, on that getting into a GP up in the Northern Territory when I was there 15 years ago. It was about a four-week delay. And so you'd have a lot of aspects of pharmacy, that then just extended not just from treating people but we did a lot of veterinary, pharmacy care. And so, we had to increase some knowledge on how to treat horses for particular diseases and viruses and cows and cattle. And then I was lucky enough in the pharmacy as I managed to support quite a few Aboriginal communities. So worked with the Royal Flying Doctors and was able to find and fly out of Aboriginal communities and support them through Depot pharmacies as well so that scope of practice is phenomenal when we move out of the big cities. Not so much in the big in the big cities because you have those networks already established. There are 1000s of physios there are 1000s of OTs when there's in rural areas, there aren't that many so you do have to learn quickly, learn fast and ask all sorts of questions to help support your patients as best you can in other areas not just in what you specialise in which is medicine. So that was quite interesting, and I did love living up in the territory. And I do recall when this my next move was to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to develop the intern training programme. And I do remember thinking, do I take this role and I had one of my colleagues say to me if you don't take this role you will stay up here for the rest of your life. And also do I want to stay up here for the rest of my life, it's quite boring. But I think I've still got a few more adventures with me. So, that's when I left the Territory. And I was working up there with the Charles Darwin University as well. I had their first cohort of pharmacy students graduate so I worked with the pharmacy board, and we developed the intern programme and relied quite heavily on the South Australian Pharmacy Board and some great mentors there that helped me develop that programme for the Charles Darwin graduates. And then I moved over to Melbourne, and started the intern training programme with the PSA, which was one of my roles obviously as a team as well which were fabulous to work with. We did a lot of education, a lot of writing for pharmacy journals and it was a great experience. So, that's my rural and remote background, and then after four years at the PSA was seeking a different role and API then presented itself to me and say, would you like to come join us? We're experiencing great growth in pharmacy, great growth in what we're doing and we need more pharmacists to help deliver that vision. And so I wanted to be part of part of that and my values absolutely aligned with what I wanted to do which was improve people's lives.

[Allie Xu] Well that's incredible. I know that you're very adventurous and you love to explore. How can we help other pharmacy students and early career pharmacists to step out of that comfort zone? What made you step out of your comfort zone and can you share with us your experience?

[Regina Cowie] It's really a good point Allie and I speak to a lot of interns and a lot of young pharmacy students and they say, what do I need to do? And I always say you've just got to embrace change and go after what you really are passionate about. And that is getting out of the cities. And all of them say to me, but I've got my friends here and my family. I love going to the market and I love the food and all those experiences are there but if you don't take risks. You may still be in this position in another 20, 30 years time. So you have to ask yourself are you comfortable with that? Or do you actually want to do something pretty phenomenal? And that may mean stepping away from your comfort zone. Making new friends, tasting new food, doing new things. So I always had that advice to them around - you can keep doing what you're doing but if you want to be known for something, you want to make significant changes and fulfil what your visions are. Then you do need to take risks and do this, it might only be a point in time. You might only do it for a few years, but at least you've got that backing behind you. So I know it's hard. I know it's challenging, but do it while you're young, before you have children, before you want to settle down. It makes it a lot easier to move yourself and maybe your partner or your husband than it does to move a whole family but not just say it's impossible. They just have to think about what their vision is and off they go. For me it was really around, I wanted to influence more people I wanted to instil my passion in more people and I wanted to help people and the experience I've received is phenomenal. There were diseases we were treating they only read about in textbooks. Things such like Leprosy and Tuberculosis and all those things. You read and you learn about you know the drug regimens. But when you actually have to dispense them and you're providing them to people. That's where I think the real value lies in. Why did you become a pharmacist? Ask yourself that question. And when I do ask lots of young pharmacists, the response is quite diverse, but it gets me thinking about what truly the meaning of being a pharmacist is in your community more role do you play?

[Allie Xu] Well that is so important. Yeah, I think often we taught so much on the clinical side and how to do things and what to do? But really, not really asking the soul searching question. What is a pharmacist? Why do I want to be a pharmacist? You know, what kind of pharmacists do I want to be? And all that those questions are really important to really actually drive us. Thank you so much for sharing that. 

[Regina Cowie] I love your, your, your picked up on one of my key things that I do talk about which is what sort of pharmacist do you want to be? And I always say I picked up the good qualities and all the other pharmacists and healthcare workers I've worked with. And yes, everyone's got good and bad qualities, but if you can pick up one good thing and learn from someone and then become that pharmacist. Then you're going to be a phenomenal pharmacist.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, well thank you. Great tip. You said so many great opportunities that you are presented with. How did you get these opportunities?

[Regina Cowie] I realised, where I wanted to go. And then I started chasing after that so there's no secret in working hard, having passion, building great networks, having great mentors to encourage you, but really underlying that is all about relationships communication and hard work. I had nothing given to me, I worked incredibly hard to get where I am today, and still do. There was very challenging times. Absolutely. And it's how do you build resilience to get over those barriers and get through and there's a lot of male and female talk. There's a lot of have you got enough experience, not enough experience talk. It's how do you present yourself to be the best candidate for that position? And that's what I think I'm able to plan, I'm able to sit down, I'm able to work out exactly what I can bring to particular roles and then have the ability to communicate that quite well and articulate how I can step up, and what they're actually trying to achieve. So it does, it doesn't happen overnight.

[Regina Cowie] Goodness I've been a pharmacist now for decades, but it does make you realise that nothing comes easy. You do have to work incredibly hard to get, get where you want to be but you have to have a plan. Where is it that you want to go to? How do you think you'll get there and who do you need to help you to get to those places?

[Allie Xu] Did you have any role models and mentors that help you to design this path or knowing where you want to go?

[Regina Cowie] I do absolutely. I've had some really strong family members who helped me. My mom passed away when I was in my 20s. So my Aunty stepped in as that mom role model and encouraged me and supported me with the visions that I was trying to achieve. I have some great pharmacy mentors who are still in my life and I call on them quite regularly. And then I've got mentors outside of pharmacy which is very important. How do you diversify because pharmacy is one component of healthcare. But I work quite closely with mentors in other allied health areas as well that I call on and now have become quite friendly - we’re friends -so that's the ultimate. If you can have open and honest conversations with people who are there to support you who make you a better person. And you're able to have conversations with them that cover everything from A to Z, then you've got a great mentor you don't have to specifically call out the fact that that's my mentor, but if you can think of someone who, who you need in your life, to support you to pick you up when you're having a bad day. To give you some advice who won't judge you, then you know that’s, that's a real friend and, and your mentor, that you need to have. So I've had a few really strong ones I've had a few that have faded away. As you progress through your life but everything's a journey, everything's a point in time, so I'm hoping I'll have a few more mentors, come to me in the next few decades to help support me in my next chapter.

[Allie Xu] So what are some of the lessons that really helped you? Or you learnt that shaped your entire career?

[Regina Cowie] I think one of the big lessons is ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek information. And I always like to be prepared so I never attend anything unless I've done reading. I know exactly what it's about. I've got some background information. I plan a lot. I plan, a lot of things out to the ends - sometimes a little bit too detailed. And then I've learned over time that you don't have to be a perfectionist, if you get to 80 or 90%, sometimes it's worth going, otherwise you would never get anything done. So those are the key things. Also just continue to be passionate about what you're doing. If it doesn't drive passion, then maybe you need to consider, do I need to change or do something different. But I wake up every day and loving what I do. So that's really the key if you don't love what you do then have a rethink because there's something out there that you would like doing every day.

[Allie Xu] Yeah, definitely. So, now you're the National Health Service Manager at API. And what do you actually do every day on a daily basis?

[Regina Cowie] Well, Ellie that's a really interesting question because no two days in my calendar are the same. Everything can be thrown out the window. I can change direction quite suddenly just depending on what's happening. So at the moment, I'm heavily involved in the electronics prescription rollout which is a fabulous project to be working on, we’ve had great success across our whole brands, Priceline, Soul Pats, and club premium, as well as the extended - extension of API. And that could change in a moment if there's a Telehealth government announcement or maybe a release that needs to be actioned or reviewed so I'm also now working on the COVID rollout, again, moving guide moving components of COVID. Every day, there's always a change, there's always an update so when I have a plan of what I think I'm going to do today, it may get thrown out the window. Essentially my role is to support the services growth across API so across all of our brands. And that means yes electronic prescribing to make sure we're ready for that and the evolution in that space, components of Telehealth and where is that going.

[Regina Cowie] It's also using technology; how do we continue to provide our services through tech and improve our patient care. How do we help coordinate health care for our patients? Again through tech through our services so making the whole healthcare journey as seamless as possible. We all know how hard it is to get in the car if you're sick to go see a doctor to then wait in the waiting room when you're not feeling well. They're running behind eventually see the doctor. So you can already see that whole process is, is painful.Then they refer me to a pathology. I have to go to the pathology lab to get my bloods taken. And I think back to the doctor when she's got, they've got the result. So it's quite convoluted. We just want to make that simple. And that's really my key role is how do you make that simple for patients for our pharmacies. How do you help improve health care and the next evolution of that is COVID and then continuing on with other services which I'm working on which is really exciting.

[Allie Xu] So what do you see that in the future? Well, because in the UK there are pharmacies who are prescribing. Taking the load off the NHS system from the hospital, off the doctors. Do you see that coming into Australia and the Australian pharmacist prescribing in the near future?

[Regina Cowie] I would love to see that. I think we're absolutely confident and capable to be part of that journey. And I have these conversations quite often with our pharmacies. I'm not sure if they've got the confidence to believe in themselves that they are capable and when I talk to them and say we've done four years of study on actual medicines. We're more than capable of doing that. And obviously, there will always be a pathway to extra education to ensure that we are confident and competent in particular disease states. But it's about having that belief in what we do. We don't just put labels on boxes we’re integral to the healthcare system and improving people's lives and we're medicine specialists. So how do we continue to develop in that space is really the key. And I'm really passionate about equitable access across all of Australia for everyone. So not just the people who live in the cities who have great internet connection. Who has services galore. It's about equitable and that's where the Telehealth piece is really taking off and. Was it COVID that instigated this or were we on this pathway, who knows? But what I have seen is a massive increase in electronic prescribing in Telehealth and it's a great step forward for our profession. So that's just a continuum of where we need to keep going. And I think there's some really exciting times ahead for pharmacy.

[Allie Xu] Well yeah, definitely. So, just try to understand your role a bit more because the API oversees more than this Priceline banner. Is that correct.

[Regina Cowie] Yeah, so before I moved into the National Healthcare Services role. I was actually the national dispensary manager for Priceline Pharmacy. So I had a team of pharmacists that worked for me. And our role was around, focusing on Priceline Pharmacy only, and that was to do with the growth of the network, ensuring that our pharmacies were profitable and ensuring that the service is aligned with all of those visions and our goals. So, that was quite an exciting time we had exceptional growth, and as a result of that, we realised the focus is health, health of the people, our customers, our pharmacies is really the key. And 18 months ago, Richard our CEO who's fabulous decided that he was going to create a healthcare services team. And that's right, headed up by my boss, who's a GM of Healthcare Services, Rob Tazzy, and I’m reporting to him. And so our role now is not just to support Priceline Pharmacy is to support all of API to achieve those same goals. So it's all about innovation in this phase, healthcare services, ensuring that our network continues to grow and be profitable. But ultimately, it is underpinned by care. If you care about people you care about what you're doing. That's really the key to success. The rest will follow. The financials will follow, the processes the systems all of those will follow but as long as you care about what you're doing and you believe in the vision, and you're all aligned. You'll have some great success. So that's been quite amazing step forward for API. And it has been a really tough year. We're based in Victoria so based in Melbourne, and for the past 12 months we've all been working from home. So to be able to innovate and collaborate and do workshops all online has been definitely a change for us but we're achieving some great things. So, hopefully, COVID normal comes sooner than later. And we get to some sort of ability where we can get back into face to face, because that really is the key for me it's about the whole networking collaboration. I always say it's a lot better value, the two minutes you've walked to a meeting, than sometimes the whole half hour meeting itself. It's those walking discussions that you have that really make a big difference.

[Allie Xu] Wow, I'm just so excited about the future of pharmacy, that you talk about care for people and then the, the equal access and I love that. And what you know I think that's a lot of pharmacists, the reason why we're a pharmacist, is we want to help our community. We want to help people. We want to help for those elderly as well as the little kids, anytime when they have questions, because we do see models in the pharmacy, about the sales and we need to push the add on sales that still have that culture of selling, focus. And so how can we help other pharmacists to realise - hey, you know, our leaders in the pharmacy field are looking at how can we bring more care and how can we support our community? What's the gap in between, how can we share with our pharmacists or as pharmacy students, early career pharmacists, the way how they can develop, and that is see the hurt that they can really provide care to the community?

[Regina Cowie] Yeah, it's. That's a really difficult one to answer, Allie. I understand, I worked for API. We have brands of pharmacy. I understand the commercial aspect and the retail need. However, if you care, and I always go back to this care and you have that vision to succeed your customers will do everything they can, and listen to you. So it's not about selling. It's about providing them with all the information they need to have a successful recovery or management of their condition, so I'll give you an example.

[Regina Cowie] We really do push education around complete care in our model. And the example I'll give is around someone coming in for a Conjunctivitis for example. So coming in Conjunctivitis you're asking the right questions and are they pregnant, breastfeeding, any allergies, all that sort of stuff, you go through the process, and you sell them whatever products you need. But then it's also about saying to the female that's coming in. Make sure you throw away your mascara. And we're able to give you a mascara in replacement of that once your eyes healed. So then you don't reinfect yourself, make sure that you wash your pillowcase. Make sure, make sure, so you're just adding on all those little components, and you're not selling. It's you're giving them the complete solution to fix their problem. And I know many times, but as a pharmacist at API get asked a lot of questions by our staff in the tea room for example if I'm making a cup of tea. And one that is quite memorable. She came to me and she said, I've got a cold sore. What do I do? So, I wrote down what she should get at the pharmacy. And she came back and she said and the pharmacists gave me 1, 2, 3 and it was four products. And great things such as sunscreen and a lip balm and all those sorts of things, and I thought wow that is exceptional care. And I said to her, how much did all that cost you? She said I don't care if it fixes me, that's what I care about. And so, again, cementing it all in that care factor if you care about people it's not about trying to sell as many products. It's about giving them that total solution, and they will decide on what they need or not. And if it's a not, they might come back. If it hasn't healed up or they haven't resolved a health problem and come back to you but the great success is when you see customers follow you around so as a community pharmacist. If you move from one area to another and your customers follow you. That's, that's when you know you've done a great job. So, yeah, it's a really tough question and I understand the pressures that a lot of them are under. But just go back to what are my values and and what do I want to achieve? And those results will flow from there.

[Allie Xu] Well, I thank you so much for sharing that. Yeah.

[Regina Cowie] I hope my passion comes through, Allie. Because that's really what I get when I talk to people I do a lot of presenting at conferences and at our conferences and I get them all coming up going well I just want to, I just want to be as passionate about you. And you know I said I wasn't really passionate about pharmacy until I started working in that pharmacy that was attached to the Derm clinic. But it really is just a passion for caring about others and helping people improve their lives. And if that's your passion, it'll just show, and so hopefully doing this is inspiring some young, young people that they don't just have to work in. There's not just community and hospital pharmacy. There's lots of other avenues of pharmacy that you can put yourself into. If you have a passion to do something in that space. And so, go after your dreams but make sure you've put a plan in place to get there.

[Allie Xu] That's definitely, definitely a feeling and and and it's amazing that you saying it, you know from your level and we'll help people want to care for people, that's amazing not really make my heart sing.

[Regina Cowie] I'm glad, I'm glad. It is, it is. I’m quite passionate about it. Maybe a bit too extremely passionate. But to have this passion, after being a pharmacist for decades and still have it.

[Regina Cowie] I still do have it - I'm an accredited pharmacist I still do HMR on weekends. And I do that, purely for a group of doctors who I'm connected with, as well as keeping up my clinical knowledge, but also because I continue to care about people and how can I make some changes in this space. So, yes, it adds to my workload and my husband probably doesn't want me to work as much as I do but again it's about I still care and I still care for people so although I'm not working in the community pharmacy. I'm still connecting with my local community, and able to help in that way.

[Allie Xu] So what are some advice, in terms of skill sets. How to develop those skill sets? What type of skill sets, you see, pharmacists need in the future? So then they can start developing themselves while they're still at Uni.

[Regina Cowie] Yeah, it's, it's a really, it's an area that needs constant attention. I've had a fair few conversations with universities around some of the modules that they're teaching graduates. For example, there might be a Physics module that maybe could be reshaped to also include some communication or emotional intelligence, because in the pharmacist that I see nowadays at conferences or networking. Emotional Intelligence really is a key area that needs to be nurtured a bit more.

[Regina Cowie] And communication and understanding the power of relationships and the power of give and take. And that open and honest conversation, really is the key. So, if I had to give any advice. Yes you can go and do more education and become more clinically profound on particular areas focus on them if you're in to cytotoxics, if you're into aseptics. Whatever it is, follow your dream. However, be able to communicate and communicate across all levels, and don't be afraid to communicate across all of them as well. So everyone has a role to play in pharmacy. I mean, life in general. And what really pains me is when I walk into a pharmacy and I'll see the bin overflowing. And everyone was stopped to watch me, and I would look around and say what's wrong. And they would say, I've never seen a pharmacist take the bin out before. And I said, but it's full. It needs to go out.

[Regina Cowie] And so, no one in my opinion is better than anyone else. Everyone needs to help out everyone should be able to do as much as everything is possible in the pharmacy setting but the outside as well. And just help each other. You know that really is the key. So, if you can build on all those skill sets, you'll set yourself up for life regardless if you're not the smartest in the room or you don't have the strongest clinical knowledge but you're able to care, you're able to listen, you're able to understand, you’re able to ask the right questions, and you're able to ask for help. And you have high emotional intelligence. That, that's really what we're looking for in pharmacy nowadays and customers respond incredibly well to all of that. 

[Allie Xu] I'm just out of interest was one of pharmacists, wanted to spend more time in on the floor and that takes a lot of energy at the same time they have to punch through all the dispensing, all the scripts and checking it. You know, and also now injecting, injections and CPAP and how. How can pharmacists, how can pharmacists be able to do everything? But still give our full attention to customers and give that level of care. When we have so much going on. Just want to hear from your perspective.

[Regina Cowie] Yeah, I don't think pharmacists should ever be dispensing. Ever. I could train my nine year old to dispense and put a label on a box, and how to read a script. And now with electronic prescribing and things up in the cloud, the reduction in errors is, you know, pretty insignificant. So pharmacists should be out there talking to their patients working on their services, yes vaccinating. And everyone has their role to play. And you shouldn't be in the dispensary so when I first moved to Priceline Pharmacy. One of the key areas was getting those pharmacists out from behind the counter. So what we did was change the dispensary designed and remove the counter. So, there weren't two benches anymore there was only one bench, they had no way to hide. And so we were forcing them out the front they're talking to their customers and doing things differently because change of behaviour is incredibly difficult as I'm sure you're aware it takes a long time. And sometimes you need to force people into a situation before they realise that actually this this is the better way to do things. So, we tried a few things. We changed the way we did things. We changed physical settings. I understand there's lots going on there's always lots going on and it's not going to get any easier, this year is going to be quite intense with flu and COVID and everything else that's happening in the marketplace and, and in your pharmacy. But it's, it's no different to anyone else and I remember talking to one of my friends over in the UK. And she was doing, hundreds of scripts a day, as well as vaccinating for flu, as well as their medication initiation programme similar to our meds checks. Lots and lots of other things, and I said how do you do it? And she said that that's what I was trained to do. I'm a pharmacist, and I'm trained to care, and the admin support, I get that from my Techs, and I get that from my systems, but the piece around yes I've got lots to do. She said I get it, but that's what I was trained to do. And I love coming into work every day so you don't feel like you're overwhelmed. If you get underlying that is your passion to, to help people. So, yeah, it is busy I get it, I’ve been a community pharmacist. I've done lots of different things, and it doesn't, it's relentless you don't walk away at the end of the day and go well I've got nothing to do. There's always something to do, and there's always someone who needs your care.

[Regina Cowie] But that's just life is you juggling things in your life as well as your work. So it's about prioritising. It's about empowering people in your pharmacy to lead particular projects. So if you were doing something in the sleep space have a lead in that area who is your expert. Who then trains others who have probably not as much knowledge but some knowledge. They can support if that person's not here. It's, it's how do you build these businesses really a total business to really succeed. So, it is a challenge and hopefully there are some great leaders out there who can support the younger pharmacists in how to, how to do that.

[Allie Xu] Well, thank you for sharing that. If, if you have to do everything, start everything again. What would you do differently?

[Regina Cowie] I've always thought I wouldn't mind going overseas and working. And doing some outreach services in one of the islands. So possibly if that opportunity came up again I would take that. So it might be up in the islands off the Tiwi or it might be through Vanuatu or Fiji or somewhere where they need some significant health procedures in place to improve their health and wellness over there - they had a Measles outbreak in one of the islands, over the last few years and they got on top of that pretty rapidly. So, there, there are some opportunities in that space that I maybe could have jumped on. That maybe wasn't brave enough, when I was a younger pharmacist and didn't have as much experience as I have now. But ultimately it's maybe asking a few more questions as well. So why do we do things a certain way? What made us do it this way? Do you think we could do it this way? And change it and have a little bit more confidence in my ability to influence and change things. Which I've been able to do across scale now. Which has been quite fabulous. So not only just working on Priceline but across the whole API which is quite significant.

[Allie Xu] What advice would you give a student who's about to graduate from university and looking for internship opportunities? What would you, what advice would you give to them?

[Regina Cowie] I would suggest strongly, step outside your comfort zone and head to a rural regional or remote area within Australia. I cannot give that enough praise. Even if it's only for a few years, your scope of practice will escalate. You will be incredibly satisfied.

[Allie Xu] And so if you have one advice for students and early career pharmacists both professionally and personally, what would it be?

[Regina Cowie] Find your passion, find your vision and go after it. Don't be afraid to ask for help, build strong relationships, and hopefully you'll have a thriving and successful pharmacy career.  

[Allie Xu] Thank you. Thank you so much. ​​

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Your Pharmacy Career Podcast, proudly brought to you by Raven’s Recruitment, Australia's leading specialist pharmacy recruitment agency. If you enjoyed this episode and know anyone else who you think would benefit from it, we would be grateful if you could share it with them. Together, we help even more pharmacists develop a career and life they love. If you have any questions or suggestions about future podcast episodes, please reach out to us via email,​

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