My name is Shana O’Connor; I’m from the Waluwarra people, Mt Isa QLD. I am a pharmacist in North West Queensland – Pharmacy is my passion and livelihood. My story starts in Mount Isa, where I was born and raised. I began working in a local community pharmacy during high school and completed a Certificate II in Community Pharmacy during this time.
In 2010 I made the journey to Townsville to study Pharmacy at James Cook University. I was lucky enough to be a beneficiary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship Scheme through the Pharmacy Guild. The scholarship allowed me to focus on my studies and also helped pay for my textbooks and lab equipment. My mentor, Leigh Houldsworth, was incredibly supportive during my time at university, and I was privileged to receive a pre-registration position at Mount Isa Pharmacy First, where Leigh was my preceptor.
One of the main highlights of my experiences in rural pharmacy was the opportunity to strengthen health care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I took part in the Deadly Ears Campaign, where I worked with the local Indigenous radio station to increase awareness of otitis media in the community. Pharmacy First has an active presence in the Indigenous community through events such as the annual NAIDOC day fun day.
This year is my first year as a registered pharmacist, and I am continuing my career at Mount Isa Pharmacy First. Of course, there are always challenges when working in a rural area; however, I look at these challenges as an opportunity to break through the barrier and increase the standard of health care in rural communities, emphasising closing the gap.