Priceline Pharmacy Ararat, Fiona Cochrane

Benefits of regional pharmacy

Before moving to Ararat and starting her pharmacy ownership journey, Fiona worked for over 14 years with a Melbourne based pharmacy. “My previous employer owned over five pharmacies and he taught me everything – from dispensing to running a business. He was very supportive and guided me through the pros and cons of buying a pharmacy business.”

“Rural is a bit of a lifestyle choice, more than anything else” says Fiona. “You have a steady customer base that you see very often and get to know them a bit better than you would in a metro” she adds.
“The biggest benefit is that it takes only 5 minutes to get to work!” she smiles as she goes on to talk about the benefits of working in a regional area.

“It’s a small community and everyone knows each other. It helps when we have to refer the patients to another provider, we can explain to the patients what is going to happen as we are familiar with the service or facility ourselves due to proximity.”

“Another benefit of a regional pharmacy is that I don’t pay as much in rent so I can afford to employ more staff” elaborates Fiona. “I’m a very hands-on owner of the business, so I’m at the pharmacy everyday and I know if things are getting out of hand.  Things get slightly harder for absentee pharmacy owners who don’t actually live in the local community as they don’t understand the real needs of the community” says Fiona.

Focusing on her time working in regional Victoria, Fiona says “I’ve always thought that for pharmacists it’s more rewarding and easy working in regional pharmacy. I understand moving away from the social aspects of city life can be difficult for some but regional pharmacy has its benefits and provides a lot of flexibility.”

Jayson Atkins Pharmacy, Niddrie

New workflow bringing in efficiencies and keeping the customers happy!

Jayson Atkins pharmacy is located in a shopping centre off Keilor Road in Niddrie. The pharmacy is located in the shopping centre since November 1993 and has recently undergone renovations to keep pace with changes in the industry and to better serve its customers.

The local community of Niddrie has been an essential part of Jayson’s upbringing and he remembers playing at the old ANZAC hangar site – where the shopping centre was eventually built in 1993.  “It’s all about working in the community. I’ve known everyone since I was a child. It does make your work a lot easier” he smiles.

The recent renovations at the pharmacy has not only given the pharmacy a face lift but has lent a better workflow resulting in greater efficiencies in the pharmacy. The new fit-out is bright and inviting with an open feel throughout the pharmacy. The pharmacy has comfortable seating areas for customers who want to wait while their prescription is being dispensed or just sit down to have a conversation. There is also a separate private consultation room for having those important one on one consultation with the pharmacist while maintaining privacy.  At any point in time the pharmacy has three pharmacists, one pharmacy assistant and a shop manager. “This means that every time a patient walks into a pharmacy, he is more likely to get a pharmacist come out and talk to him face to face” explains Jayson.

“Where I’d like the industry to go is to take on an increased clinical role and implement new models that frees up the pharmacist for more advisory role. I can see pharmacies working closely with the doctors to better manage a patient’s treatment and recovery. Diabetes is a good example of cohesive work between health professionals. A Doctor may diagnose a person with diabetes and send them to our pharmacy where we can sign them up for NDSS, monitor their glucose levels frequently and feedback to the doctor. It’s just an extension to what pharmacists do. But that seamless integration with other health professionals seems to be a natural next step for pharmacy in my perspective.”

“Supply has always been a core function of pharmacists,” says Jayson. “But new programs and services offered via pharmacies today is moving pharmacies from merely being supply to the next level and beyond. As a healthcare professional we spend a lot of time at the backend trying to ensure that the supply logistics run smoothly right up to the point where medicines are labelled and delivered with the correct advice for the patient. If pharmacist can afford to focus less on maintaining the supply and focus more on engaging the customers, a lot can be achieved” elaborates Jayson.

More in the members only newsletter - Guild News

Ascot Vale Pharmacy

Jane Mitchell and Dimitra Tsucalas members since 2007

With a focus on professional healthcare services, Dimitra and Jane provide products and services to people from a varied ethnic mix that live in Ascot Vale.  “Our emphasis is on health issues and care rather than on retail and non-health products. Our staff are locals or from local origins and some speak Italian, Greek or Spanish” adds Jane.

“We promote quality use of medicines by providing information and advice and by offering a full range of professional pharmacy services to ensure the best health outcomes for the customers” says Dimitra. The professional services available include MedsCheck, Sleep Apnoea testing equipment hire and sales, DAAs, HMRs, Full health checks, Pharmacotherapy programs and many more.

Highlighting upon community engagement, Jane says, “We deliver information days for our customers and have had workshops on diabetes, Sleep study and Vitamins and supplements.”

The pharmacy is also an approved sleep study centre which is a home based study and eliminates the need of going in to a hospital for a sleep over. The GP can refer a client for a sleep study to detect and diagnose sleep disorders and appropriate therapy. Guild Care platform is used by the pharmacy to record all their consultations and medical records for patients.

Talking about the constantly evolving pharmacy landscape, Dimitra says “We have always been aware of the changing nature of pharmacy and try to be proactive rather than reactive.” Dimitra has worked with the PSA and the Guild on various councils and committees. Both Jane and Dimitra say that they try and remain focussed on finding innovative ways to provide health care services to their local community. Dimitra and Jane have been part of the community for very long and have long term staff that are focussed on social engagement with customers and make a difference in their well-being.

“We have a very significant role to play in primary care and most certainly are the first point of contact for many of our regular customers” explains Dimitra.

“Pharmacy is a focal point of so many people in the community. Not everybody has a point of contact where they can go and discuss their health issues. We have so many people from the community who walk-in to our pharmacy just for a casual chat about the issues they have – it has a mental and social aspect to it. None of this is documented or paid for by anyone! This role of pharmacists is a very crucial role and must be recognised and rewarded” expresses Jane.

Sending a message to all aspiring pharmacy owners, they say “It’s hard work but rewarding not only financially but personally because you work towards changing people’s lives and help them live better! You need to work towards differentiating your pharmacy from the others and stand out – innovation is the key.”

Photo: Elsa Scott, Helen Nguyen, Dimitra Tsucalas, Augelene Yilmaz and Jane Mitchell

Jon Ravech Chemsave Pharmacy – North Coburg

Jon Ravech member since 1964

As you enter Jon Ravech Pharmacy in North Coburg you notice neatly organised aisles and the smiling faces of the pharmacy staff eager to help. The wide spacious isles have been designed for total ease-of-shopping. As you make your way across to the prescriptions counter, you can’t help but notice Wilma! No she’s not another happy face at the pharmacy but a robotic dispenser working quietly in the background. And if you are wondering why she is called’s because the dispensing software is FRED. Both go hand in hand just like Fred and Wilma from Flintstones.

Jon Ravech Pharmacy is a household name in the Merlynston community of North Melbourne. With great people skills and a keen business sense, Jon has been serving the community of Merlynston for over 50 years.

Jon started his pharmacy career on 24 Jan 1958 as an apprentice in Carlisle Street, Balaclava and went on to set up his own 11-17 Orvieto Street Chemsave pharmacy in 1964. Jon and his wife Judy ran the pharmacy on a 24 hour pharmacy model for five years before consolidating the hours to a more feasible 8am to 9pm each weekday and 9am to 9pm Saturday, Sunday and all Public Holidays, 365 days of the year. “We are open every day, it’s a way of life for us,” explains Jon. It’s a tradition that has been going for over 50 years with never a day missed in all that time!

“I dispensed everything from prescription to pain tablets, cough and cold remedies, family planning needs to dummies. Anything that people needed from a pharmacy we sold” says Jon while talking about his first few years at the pharmacy. Since 1964, Jon has adapted and moulded his 11-17 Orvieto Street pharmacy several times to keep pace with changing business and technological landscape.

Today his Orvieto Street pharmacy is “not just a pharmacy” but a health and wellness destination. The pharmacy features a large stock range; a compounding chemist laboratory and a state of the art robotic dispenser. The pharmacy co-exists with North Coburg Medical Centre that provides a whole range of services including pathology and cardiology. In addition to a host of services offered in their pharmacy they also work with nursing homes and hospitals in the area to provide medication management services. They provide a free prescription pick-up and return delivery service to the elderly people and young families in the local community.

Jon is a keen supporter of the community pharmacy model and believes that pharmacists can do a lot more to service the needs of the community.

Jon Ravech’s Pharmacists team have a combined total of 164 years’ experience between them in dispensing medicine and advising. Talking about what he enjoys most about his profession, Jon says “I just love coming to work, talking to people, helping them, advising them – and I think I’ve been pretty good at it!”

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Page last updated 25 August 2017