Close up shot of smiling young woman with shoulder length brown hair - Abbie Thomas

An initiative aimed at promoting the knowledge available at your local pharmacy proved the perfect inspiration for a Swansea University student’s award-winning success.

Abbie Thomas, who is studying for a BSc in Population Health and Medical Sciences, was named winner of this year’s annual Pharmacology Matters writing competition with judges praising her “flowing, articulate exploration of an important topic”. 

Her article A growing rep and curing strep – the rise of community pharmacy, featured the Welsh pilot scheme Sore Throat Test and Treat, launched to highlight the medical expertise offered by community pharmacists – particularly when it comes to advice on common ailments such as sore throats.

Abbie, from Llantrisant, said she was inspired by a guest lecture from Professor Andrew Morris head of Swansea University Medical School’s MPharm programme, which explained not only the project but also the range of knowledge freely available to patients from pharmacists in every high street.

She said: “Utilising the vast teams of allied healthcare professionals can help to ease the pressure facing general practice. I wanted to highlight the value of the pharmacy profession.” 

Abbie is now hoping to become doctor but admits her journey into higher education has been an unconventional one. 

“I was 27 and before starting at the Medical School in 2019, I hadn’t studied any science since doing my GCSEs. I am so grateful to everyone for putting faith in me and giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams of being a doctor. 

“All of the staff are amazing, supportive and inspirational. Dr Nia Davies and her colleagues have created an incredible foundation year that really helped me to learn everything I needed for the BSc from scratch. 

“The staff at SUMS aren’t interested in just lecturing you. It’s so clear that they are genuinely interested in getting to know you and helping you to achieve your goals.” 

After completing her degree, Abbie hopes to join the Graduate Entry Medicine programme at Swansea. 

She added: “General practice is currently a speciality that I’m interested in pursuing, so exploring ways in which the pressures facing GPs may be eased was another driving force behind my article.”

Abbie’s win sees her going one better than fellow Population Health and Medical Sciences student Gabriella Santiago who was one of last year’s runners-up in the competition.

Senior lecturer Dr Aidan Seeley said: “The British Pharmacological Society is an international Learned Society with more than 4,000 members worldwide, which highlights just how massive an achievement this. 

“As Chair of its Early Career Pharmacologists Advisory Group, I am exceptionally proud to see our early career scientists here at Swansea thriving within the broader academic community. Abbie’s article is a very deserving winner and highlights how engaged our students are. Well done Abbie!”

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