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Pharmacy graduate thesis, not quite the norm

Monday, 28 May 2018 10:29am

The University of Otago is renowned for its research and the School of Pharmacy is no exception. Four PhD students graduated at the mid-year graduation ceremony on Saturday 12 May in Dunedin. Congratulations Dr Vanda Symon, Dr Patti Napier, Dr Nagham Ailabouni, Dr Anna Cooper and PGDipClinPharm graduate, Jessica Lim.

Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott celebrates the success of her 11th PhD graduate, Dr Vanda Symon. Dr Symon admits her thesis is “a bit different,” investigating the communication of science through crime fiction. Dr Symon dedicated her thesis to her first lead supervisor, the late Professor Jules Kieser.

Vanda and Natalie at pregraduation ceremony 418px
Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott and recent PhD graduate, Dr Vanda Symon.

“He was the enabler who connected and brought all these people in to figure out how I could do this really odd project,” she says. The road to completion was not straightforward for her and she said, “Natalie really took me under her wing”, supported by co-supervisor, Senior Lecturer Susan Heydon.

“It’s been fantastic; I’ve never lost the passion for my subject. I’ve really enjoyed researching that, and indulging in that”.

“I think that’s the trick,” says fellow PhD graduate, Dr Patti Napier. It has taken me six years to do my thesis; I’ve been doing it part time and I’ve been working.

“You really have to be passionate, you have to love it! And you have to be obsessive about it to get it finished”.

Dr Napier’s thesis is a continuant of her Masters, when she asked the New Zealand Pharmacy profession if they thought introducing a checking technician into the workplace would be viable.

“It existed in the United Kingdom and we wanted to know if it would work here, and we just got so much information.”

Under the direction of Associate Professor Rhiannon Braund and Professor Pauline Norris, Ms Napier’s thesis ended up in three parts.

First, the survey to find out what the pharmacists thought of the idea, then an interview of the profession in Christchurch about how they coped with the earthquake and how professional pharmacy roles changed.

The introduction of a checking technician in New Zealand in 2016 made up the third component of her thesis when she undertook an evaluation of the Pharmacy Checking Technician Demonstration Site Project, which confirmed the suitability for national roll out. This is a part of her thesis that she says would not be possible without the help of School of Pharmacy’s Dr James Green, who helped with the statistics.

“Hers [Vanda] is looking at communication, mine looks at role re-distribution and service provision. Lots of pharmacy students, and a lot of the people involved, either do pharmaceutical science and clinical and our topics have been not quite the norm in pharmacy,” says Dr Napier.

Pauline, Rhiannon and Patti at pregraduation ceremony 418 px
Dr Patti Napier with supervisors, Associate Professor Rhiannon Braund and Professor Pauline Norris.


Article written for the School of Pharmacy newsletter, Volume 3 Issue 1.