Charles Sturt University alumna Ms Jenna Cormack has spent 10 years carving out her pharmacy career.
So when the store she co-owns and manages, Priceline Pharmacy in The Ponds, was announced as the NSW Priceline Pharmacy of the Year, the Hawkesbury local felt like much of her hard work was recognised and celebrated.
At first when Jenna was told her store won the state-wide award, she could not believe it. She didn’t even know the store was in the running.
“I was grocery shopping when I got a surprise phone call that we had won the award,” Jenna said.
“We then organised an emergency staff meeting where we told everyone the good news."
According to Jenna, the award looks at the entire store, taking into account financial growth, KPIs, team culture, involvement in health and beauty promotions, Sisterhood Foundation charity support, and events.
“It's quite a complex and thorough assessment of the store, so it’s such a lovely reward to see everyone's hard work recognised,” Jenna said.
“The whole team was so proud.”
The surprise award has put Jenna’s store in the running for the national ‘Priceline Pharmacy Store of the Year’ award, which is due to be announced in October.
The award win, and Jenna’s career choice, would also be a bit of surprise to her high school self, who was never one for science but always enjoyed and excelled in English, history and music.
“I was always very interested in studying in the health field, but science was definitely not my biggest strength at school, and yet here I am, a pharmacist,” Jenna said.
“But I do strongly believe that my strengths in writing, communication and being creative have helped me become the pharmacist I am today.”
It was Jenna’s parents who suggested she should consider studying pharmacy.
“I was in Year 12 when my parents suggested it, and once I looked into it, it was the perfect career choice for me,” Jenna said.
“I looked into the Charles Sturt University Bachelor of Pharmacy, did a tour of the Orange campus, and then selected the course as my first preference.
“I thought this will be a great opportunity to be a bit more independent and live in a beautiful country town.”
Jenna spent the next four years studying in Orange, which she says were the best years of her life.
“It was a lovely small campus, so everyone knew each other,” she recalls.
“There were always events to go to like residence balls, pharmacy commencement dinners, sporting matches, just to mention a few.
“It was also great having the lecturers so accessible and always willing to help - you could be sure they knew your name.
“I met some really special people while studying at university, and also learnt some valuable life lessons.
“I truly believe that Charles Sturt University has one of the most relevant and dynamic Bachelor of Pharmacy courses. For example, my cohort was the first to be trained to give vaccinations back in 2010.
“The course is always evolving to meet the current changes in our industry.”
Once Jenna graduated, she completed an internship with a pharmacy close to the Hawkesbury area where she grew up. She then got the chance experience country life again when the company offered her a full-time position at the Wodonga store more than seven hours away.
Jenna then moved on to work at a couple of different pharmacies in the Blue Mountains before being offered the opportunity to be the Pharmacist Manager at the new Priceline Pharmacy opening in The Ponds.
“I was really excited to be offered the position at Priceline Pharmacy The Ponds as the owners of this new store really shared my passion and enthusiasm for community pharmacy,” Jenna said.
“I've been at the pharmacy for five-and-a-half years now, and I am now a part-owner.”
Jenna says it is the customers and her team that make her job so enjoyable, but owning and running a pharmacy is not without a few challenges.
“The store would not be what it is today without our wonderful team, and our customers are truly like family,” she said.
“I am very fortunate to have a supportive and passionate team, as well as knowledgeable and experienced business partners. Surrounding yourself with the right people is so important.”
Jenna’s job involves managing a lot of different roles, from human resource management, marketing, event planning, implementing health services and mentoring the team.
“But it's that diversity that keeps me always learning and improving,” Jenna said.
“Being able to help people – whether it's just making a customer smile, or if it's helping someone with their mental health, or helping my team succeed at their job – is the reason I do what I do and why I love my job.”
For any aspiring pharmacists, Jenna has a few words of wisdom to offer.
“Being a pharmacist is a very rewarding career if you like to help people and want to be part of a person's healthcare team,” she said.
“My piece of advice for anyone currently studying, or interested in studying, is to surround yourself with people that share your enthusiasm and are optimistic.
“Your career is what you make it, so make it something you love, alongside people who love it too.”