Meet Tasma Wagner

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Driven by a passion to improve health outcomes and provide equitable access to care, Slade Pharmacy Port Augusta Clinical Pharmacist Team Leader Tasma Wagner found her calling working in a rural hospital pharmacy.

Tasma began her career in an Adelaide tertiary hospital, specialising in renal pharmacy – with a high percentage of rural patients often admitted for preventable conditions – she wanted to make a difference in the lives of rural Australians, becoming a rural hospital pharmacist in Port Augusta, South Australia.

“What attracted me to pharmacy, especially rural pharmacy, was a desire to create better patient health outcomes through education and wise use of therapeutics – addressing the needs of underserved patients in rural settings is profoundly fulfilling,” Tasma said.

“Navigating the challenges of a rural pharmacy, such as the comprehensive skillset required, offers a gratifying professional trajectory, something you don’t always get in a metropolitan pharmacy role.”

Making impact, at scale

Pursuing a career in rural pharmacy has allowed Tasma to make a difference in the lives of many rural and remote-living Australians.

“Many patients face difficulties accessing care, so I constantly work to bridge the gaps patients face by working with the hospital and primary care providers, ensuring we provide the best care possible, as close to home as possible,” Tasma said.

“Rural populations are often less inclined or able to seek regular medical attention, and consequently face heightened health disparities and are more prone to complex co-morbid acute presentations.

“What keeps me in rural pharmacy, even after 17 years, is wanting to continue to improve rural patient health outcomes. In Port Augusta, we have a high-percentage Aboriginal population whose health outcomes are well below average, and we should all be aiming to contribute to improving this statistic.

“Rural Clinical Pharmacy Practice is a rewarding career, and I feel I can directly contribute to improving individual patient outcomes and make an impact on our community overall.”

Collaborating in community

Tasma and her team also run an outreach program, working with Royal Flying Doctors Service, Pika Wiya Health Service Aboriginal Corporation and SA Health, overseeing nine remote sites with over a 1,200-kilometre radius aimed at helping reach some of the remotest corners of South Australia.

The aim is to deliver comprehensive support to improve regional patient health outcomes.

“Our pharmacists at Port Augusta Hospital strive to deliver comprehensive clinical support services to staff and patients at outreach sites, mirroring the level of care provided in the hospital,” Tasma said.

“We travel to these remote sites and provide care with doctors and nurses, tailored to meet rural patient needs, supporting large numbers of rural-living patients located over vast distances.

“Remote medical settings can be set out quite differently to those in metro areas due to varied circumstances, including staffing and organisational structures.

“This poses unique challenges, adding to the wide variety of specialised skills teams need to possess.

“Through our efforts, we aim to ensure that patients at remote locations receive equitable access to high-quality clinical pharmacy services and support.”

Addressing gaps in care

Tasma feels tailoring care to the needs of both patients and healthcare providers is essential, and increasing educational support in rural communities is crucial to enhancing rural care, especially in the rapidly evolving world of evidence-based medicine and therapeutic outcomes.

“With around seven million Australians living in rural and remote areas, providing our specialised knowledge and support to enhance care in these regional settings is crucial,” Tasma expressed.

“We must build strong relationships with patients and staff – establishing trust through expertly tailored service models and continue to provide high-quality therapeutic education to the community and healthcare providers.

“There is also a patient experience gap between hospital and post-discharge care, so we have instituted a communication process to primary care to ensure the continuation of care well beyond post-discharge.

“The healthcare system can be complex to navigate for many patients, and we see our role as crucial to help improve patient care and outcomes.

“So, we must continue to advocate for better care for all patients across the globe by mentoring the next generation of pharmacists, speaking at conferences, contributing to improved clinical governance, understanding new treatment options and providing balanced education and support for the doctors caring for complex patients.”

Looking at joining a career in rural or regional pharmacy?

For early career pharmacists looking to make a career in rural pharmacy, Tasma says you should take the leap.

“Looking back at my career, taking the leap to become a rural pharmacist is one of the best decisions I made,” Tasma said.

Find out more about a pharmacy career at Icon.


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