The Pharmacy Guild recently interviewed Cate for their members. Here is an extract...
What made you consider a career in community pharmacy?
I didn't specifically choose or aspire to a career in community pharmacy, however, when I applied for university, it was a valued and respected career preference. I liked the idea of hospital pharmacy, and I completed my internship at Brisbane Mater, where I enjoyed working as a part of a team. I chose to work as a Pharmacist in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps because it offered structured career development, and I was also able to work within a team. The military inculcates trust between the various ranks, specialities and areas of expertise.
My entry into community pharmacy came about when I settled down and started my family. Community pharmacy provided the flexible working arrangements for me to maintain my skills while looking after two young boys. I quickly learned there was a lot of scope for clinical practice and community pharmacy offered plenty of job satisfaction. As the boys entered school, community pharmacy and ownership seemed like a natural development.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
In 1998 I deployed to Bougainville as an Army Pharmacist with the Combined Health Element of the Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). By the time I arrived, a bitter civil war between the PNG Defence Force and the local population was in a truce. Elements of the PMG travelled to local communities to demonstrate security and inspect for compliance with peace agreements. The Combined Health Element’s primary purpose was to support the Australian, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu troops of the PMG, in case of injury or illness. To do that we established and maintained a field surgical hospital. As this was the best capability on the Island, it was more frequently used as the local Accident & Emergency department. Medical personnel also travelled with the teams to provide aid out in the communities.
Fortunately, health services to PMG troops were relatively routine, but we were regularly attending to locals. The pharmacists had supply responsibilities, but also in A&E supporting doctors, nurses and specialists. I tended gunshot wounds, electrocutions, amputations, childbirths, life-threatening illnesses and injuries; as triage first aider, orderly and scribe. It was an incredibly strengthening, humbling and educative experience.
This was an amazing clinical experience and an example of teams working together to achieve common goals in harsh conditions, which I still rely on today. Trusted team members used initiative and judgement to achieve outcomes, and weren't constrained by traditional responsibilities of each profession.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I live in an old three-storey nightclub, my bedroom is the stage area in the old jazz bar.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I enjoy travelling. I haven’t been able to take longer trips away at the moment, but just utilising long weekends, or taking an extra day off during the week. I really enjoy a more active holiday, with lots of walking, cycling, swimming and days spent exploring beaches! I enjoy taking the ferry to Magnetic Island, just to get away.