I enjoyed chemistry and biology at school, and this led me to choosing pharmacy over optometry. I wanted to help people and wanted to work in the health area and pharmacy allowed me to combine my passion for science and my passion to make a difference to patients.
I studied pharmacy at the University of Sydney and after 3 years wanted to learn more so studied the Diploma of Hospital Pharmacy. During university holidays I worked at Colless’ Pharmacy in Narrabri and enjoyed working in a community pharmacy where the pharmacist knew their patients and offered lots of advice. This experience was invaluable. I enjoyed working at different hospitals during the “Diploma of Hospital Pharmacy” year and worked in the intensive care and renal units at Prince Henry Hospital after completing my university degree. This provided me the opportunity to work in a team environment, to educate nursing staff and be involved in antibiotic and patient-controlled analgesia policies in the hospital.
I also worked in community pharmacies in Marrickville, Baulkham Hills, Glebe and Bondi Junction whilst working at the hospital and I was gaining as much experience as I could, as I knew one day I wanted to own my own pharmacy and provide the best health care to my patients.
I left Sydney to do country locums in Forbes, Wee Waa and Quirindi before joining a partnership in Gunnedah. I eventually bought the pharmacy myself and after a few years merged two pharmacies in 2001. I have always enjoyed life-long learning and became an accredited Pharmacist in 2003 after juggling work and raising two children. The review process allowed me to have closer contact with my patients and be able to make suggestions to improve their health. I now travel to Bourke, Walgett, Wee Waa and Boggabri to perform residential medication reviews. I travel in a two-seater plane to Bourke and Walgett with the physiotherapist from Narrabri who is the pilot!
In 2009 there was a business opportunity in Narrabri so we bought Narrabri Pharmacy. This has been very rewarding and I have enjoyed working between the two businesses.
I operate Karen Carter Chemist in Gunnedah and Narrabri Pharmacy Narrabri. My husband David has a banking background and works with me in the business on the backend administration which allows me to be out the front and engaging with my customers
My children Justin and Wendy have chosen to study pharmacy. Justin has recently completed his intern year with us and is now registered and working with us. Wendy is completing 4th year.
A successful pharmacy must have some personality! The personality of the staff and the owners should be conveyed to the patients. I always recommend you should surround yourself with people who have the same philosophy. My friends from university have been great sounding blocks and we will continue to use each of our strengths to continue to develop our knowledge. I have great accountants in Mark Nicholson and Felicity Crimston, who’s business advice is invaluable. We joined the buying group Pharmacy Catalyst in 2009 and have had great success with their professional service focused model as well as having lots of fun along the way! The Pharmacy Catalyst team at Instigo has been central to my business strategy and goals through the advice and knowledge they have provided over the years.
I believe, as you are in the pharmacy most of your day it should be fun and rewarding, not only for yourself but your team.