Pharmacist Caroline Sevil has had quite a journey from her birthplace in Northern Ireland to owning the Uralla Pharmacy, where she fell in love with the local community.
Where are you originally from, and why did you decide to become a pharmacist?
I am originally from a village called Ballykelly in County Derry, Northern Ireland. I went to Termoncanice Primary school in the nearby town of Limavady and then on to grammar school at Loreto College, Coleraine. My father was a farmer, and I have three older brothers. I always enjoyed science subjects and art at school and originally wanted to study dentistry, but my love of art finally won over and I attended art college in Manchester after leaving school. Following this, I had the opportunity to travel to Australia on a holiday/work visa for a year, and it was at the end of this trip that I met my future husband, Angus.
When I came to Australia, I decided to pursue a career in the health industry. Pharmacy was appealing to me, as it was science based and was a career I could continue in rural Australia, which was important to me. I attended Sydney University and completed a bachelor of Pharmacy in 2000. I then did my internship at Sel Brown’s pharmacy in Quirindi. Following this I managed another of Sel Brown’s pharmacies at Werris Creek for a few years. I purchased my first pharmacy at Murrurundi in 2008. After five years I decided to sell and had the opportunity to buy Uralla Pharmacy in 2013. Uralla was appealing, as it is a bustling country town with an interesting mix of people. Everyone is very community minded and very welcoming.
Tell us about your family.
I live on a farming and grazing property at Willow Tree with my husband, Angus, and two children Annabel (13) and Gus (9). I travel from Willow Tree to Uralla to work at the pharmacy at least two days a week.
My passion is helping others, and I get great satisfaction when I can help customers find a solution to their problem. In the pharmacy I can assist people with their healthcare needs and provide them with information to help them understand their disease states and disease state management.
Describe some of the special services you provide.
We offer a medscheck service, where the pharmacist sits with the customer in a private counselling area and provides medication information and advice. Any medication interactions or dose discrepancies are then reported to their GP.
Health checks within the pharmacy allows customers to keep a record of their blood pressure and blood sugar levels, which they can provide to their Dr at the next visit.
Medication packing (webster pack) is available for those customers having difficulty with the day to day management of their pills. These are packed by one of our trained pharmacy assistants on a weekly basis and increases patient compliance with their medications.
Wound care is another important service we offer to the public. Particularly with an increasing number of diabetics in the community, advice on the care and dressing of wounds is essential to aid healing and prevent ulceration. We will also dress the wound for the customer.
Other services include: diabetes, asthma and COPD education, influenza immunisation, advice on complementary medicines and a home delivery service for the elderly and infirmed.
How important is it to you to be more than a pharmacy in regional NSW, and tell us about your involvement with the local community?
The community of Uralla is actively involved in fundraising for various local charities, community groups and sporting events. Uralla pharmacy is a dedicated supporter of many of these charities and regularly sponsors The Thunderbolt Festival, Friends of McMaughs, The Uralla Show, The Central School Rewards Night, Can Assist, Uralla Fire Brigade, Uralla Preschool. I feel it is important if I have a business in town and the community is supporting me to give back and do what I can to help the town. Currently we have the Lions Club Christmas wishing tree in the pharmacy, where people can leave a gift under the tree for underprivileged children. Uralla pharmacy also accepts UNE students studying pharmacy for work experience placements.
What do you love most about what you do?
Uralla has a predominantly ageing population, and I love being able to interact with them and help them with their ailments and be a problem solver. It is nice to see them leave the pharmacy with a smile on their face after a friendly chat. Rural pharmacy is all about engagement and contact with my customers and providing the best customer service that I can; this is paramount to me. I don’t want a business where the focus is solely about making money; for me it’s about the people and my duty of care to them.
Tell us about your team.
I have an amazing, dedicated team of staff who have a passion for customer service. They all go that extra mile for their customers, whether it is delivering a medication on their way home, driving to another pharmacy to get an urgent item or calling in to check that someone is OK.
Aileen is a pharmacist/manager and has been at the pharmacy for over two years and works full-time. I have three pharmacy assistants working in the shop. Vicki McLean, who has worked at the pharmacy for over 20 years, Lisa Westbury, and Kylie Newman. They all have a great deal of experience and knowledge about OTC medications, skincare and beauty products. Nerida McNeill and Rachel Wodja alternate as dispensary technicians and webster packers and have also been in pharmacy for many years and have extensive healthcare knowledge.
When not being a pharmacist, what would we find you doing?
On the weekend I would probably be taking my son, Gus, to Saturday sport – which is cricket at the moment – or attending one of Annabel’s violin performances. I go for a power walk with my husband most mornings for half an hour, but I love to cycle, which can be a bit daunting sometimes on the rough country roads. I like to play chess with Gus, reading, swimming, sketching, playing the piano and tennis. I am also involved with the Willow Tree Primary school P & C and organise the canteen and take photos at school events. I also help my husband on the property with cattle or sheep work, or anything that requires a hand.
Plans for the future?
I would like to take on a pharmacy graduate for their intern year and provide mentoring for them.
I am interested in expanding a pharmacy service within the pharmacy which links the GP, diabetes educator and pharmacy to provide healthcare for diabetic patients.
I hope to continue to provide the Uralla community with the optimum healthcare and advice that they deserve for many years to come.