PHDs to improve practice

PhD students who are drawing on their experience as pharmacists

As a profession that requires a tightly prescribed pathway to attain accreditation, it’s arguable that we tend to regard education beyond that point purely through the lens of professional advancement.

Amanda Cross

Whilst it’s true that undertaking a PhD can substantially expand your opportunities, at the Monash Centre for Medicine Use and Safety we see an increasing number of candidates who are using their PhD research in combination with their day job to change practice for the better.

At CMUS, there are several candidates working to integrate their academic capabilities and current careers to work towards tackling pressing health concerns. One community pharmacist who’s under co-supervision is doing his PhD on whether diabetes treatment regimens are consistent with clinical guidelines.

Another candidate is an emergency department pharmacist who witnessed first-hand the impact of the opioid epidemic and so enrolled to do a PhD on analyses of PBS opioid data. She then did an exchange at the Karolinska Institute researching the impact of opioid prescribing on sick leave in Sweden.

The candidate, Samanta Lalic, has examined over five years of PBS data to determine that 1.9 million Australians begin taking prescription opioids every year. Her research findings were published in the British Journal of Pharmacology just last year.

Samanta Lalic

A third community pharmacist, Amanda Cross is in the final stages of completing her PhD on inappropriate medicine use in people with dementia. Her research has seen her take positions on Victorian Medicine Roundtables to offer clinical expertise on how to better manage medicine use. Amanda’s PhD has also seen her be awarded the national Three Minute Thesis finalist prize for her ability to effectively translate technical research for the public.

The value of a PhD during an existing career journey is no better demonstrated than in our current PhD candidates. Each of these projects have seen significant real world impact through their perspectives working as practicing pharmacists.

Few people are better positioned to identify ways in which medication use and safety systems could be improved than practicing pharmacists. A PhD offers a way to make those changes happen.