Meet Sharon Llewellyn of TerryWhite Chemmart Kingston Town, Tasmania

The pharmacy manager with a 25-year background at the TWC store in an outer Hobart  shopping centre chats about her role, her workplace, her career highlights, advice to other pharmacy assistants, and more.

If you could describe pharmacy assistants in three words, what would they be? Unsung health heroes.

Tell us about your background and how you came to work in retail pharmacy. What is your current position/role? My journey in pharmacy began in 1998. Within 12 months of starting, Peter Pitt purchased the pharmacy I was working in and, lucky for Peter, he’s been stuck with me for a whopping 25 years! I’ve worn more pharmacy hats than a hat store has – from retail manager to operations manager and now I’m Pharmacy Manager. I also do additional support with HR on the side. What a journey, huh?

 Tell us about the pharmacy at which you work. What services does your pharmacy offer? What types of customers typically come through the pharmacy doors? I’m still working at the same pharmacy I started at back in 1998. We’re a proud TerryWhite Chemmart and we wear our green uniform with pride. We have a genuine desire to protect and care for our local community, so we offer a variety of professional pharmacy services, including vaccinations, nutritionist advice, sleep apnoea management, DAAs, leave certificates and many other valuable services. We’re in one of the fastest-growing regions in Tasmania and we understand the vital importance of continuously advancing and evolving our health services to best cater to our valued customers’ needs.

Describe your pharmacy team. The pharmacy team I’m part of is truly exceptional – not only dynamic and efficient but also overflowing with compassion and genuine care – with the occasional cheeky joke for our regular customers. We’ve put in the effort to foster an environment where every team member feels valued and truly appreciated. We’ve mastered the art of recognising and harnessing each other’s strengths. It’s a living testament to the essence of ‘TEAM’: Together, Everyone Achieves More’.

 Within pharmacy, is there something you specialise in or have a particular interest in? In recent years, I’ve had the privilege of developing our sleep apnoea service. It’s profoundly fulfilling to witness the huge impact this service can have on our customers’ lives and wellbeing.

 What have been some of the highlights in your career as a pharmacy assistant so far? I’ve enjoyed watching many team members flourish in our pharmacy, whether as junior casuals or pharmacists starting their careers. [Also] developing relationships with many customers through their different stages of life and being able to help them wherever possible. Establishing electronic contracts for Taspharm [the management company that provides administration for a network of pharmacies in the state] is a more recent highlight, and winning the Retail Leadership Award for TerryWhite Chemmart last year was a phenomenal moment, too.

 What has been the most challenging part of working as a retail pharmacy assistant? Our customers often visit us in their most vulnerable moments, whether they’re unwell and in need of healthcare or seeking health advice. While there’s an overarching feeling of the need to help improve someone’s wellbeing, there can be obstacles and challenges along the way to achieving this outcome.

 As a pharmacy assistant, what impact do you hope to have within your community? I hope to create a safe space for our local community, a place where individuals can find comfort, free from judgement, and where they can share their concerns and know that we’re there for them. Being truly ‘Dedicated to care’, whether it’s a friendly chat or trusted health advice, means our community can always trust in the support and care they receive.

More broadly, what impact do you think pharmacy assistants have within the wider pharmacy industry? Pharmacy assistants play a pivotal role within the wider pharmacy industry. We’re often the first point of contact for customers and have the ability to establish the entire experience for the customer. Pharmacy assistants contribute to the industry’s standing and success by ensuring that every interaction is marked by care and confidence, leaving a lasting impression on the customer and shaping their wider perception of pharmacies.


How important is ongoing professional development for retail pharmacy assistants? Ongoing professional development stands as the cornerstone of delivering our customers the highest level of advice and care. By actively engaging in ongoing development, we remain well informed and able to provide the best advice and care while adapting to changing customers’ needs.


How would you describe working as a retail pharmacy assistant to anyone new to or considering the profession? Working as a retail pharmacy assistant is a profession that keeps you on your toes, filled with intriguing challenges and exciting opportunities. What’s unique is that we’re not just here to offer health advice. We also get to sprinkle a bit of humour and warmth into our interactions. It’s a dynamic blend of knowledge and compassion with a touch of fun, making it one of the few healthcare roles where you can potentially save lives and share a smile in the same breath.


What is your advice to other retail pharmacy assistants in terms of achieving career goals? My advice is embrace the dynamic nature of the industry. Stay curious, keep learning and don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Focus on honing your communication and empathy skills – they’re as vital as your health and product knowledge. Most importantly, never underestimate the impact of a positive attitude and a good sense of humour.

Retail pharmacy (and the healthcare industry) has faced some serious challenges over the past few years. What has helped you and your team members get through these difficult times? What’s your advice on overcoming challenges?
Our strength has been in our unity as a team. We’ve pulled together, supporting one another and our customers. My advice on overcoming challenges would be to share your knowledge, lean on each other for support, and maintain open lines of communication – to be better equipped to navigate the hurdles that come your way.

Where do you see the industry headed in the next few years? I think the pharmacy industry will continue its evolution with the scope of practice expanding further. As healthcare awareness continues to be at the forefront, our communities are increasingly recognising the pivotal role that pharmacies play in safeguarding their health and wellbeing.


 This article was in Retail Pharmacy Assistants Nov/Dec emagazine