6 November 2002

Two University of Queensland students have been awarded the prestigious titles of Pharmacist and Young Pharmacist of the Year.

Doctor of Clinical Pharmacy student Geraldine Moses and PhD candidate Lisa Nissen were presented with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) awards by the Governor of Tasmania, Sir Guy Green, in Hobart last month.

“This is an outstanding result and extremely well-deserved. Of the 12 awards presented since their inception in 1997, five have been presented to Queensland pharmacists, which is an impressive result and highlights the standard of pharmacists across the State,” said School of Pharmacy Head Professor Sue Tett.

Both winners received a $10,000 Schering-Plough Travelling Fellowship for education and/or conference expenses with Ms Moses presented with a gold medal for 2002 Pharmacist of the Year and Ms Nissen a silver medal for 2002 Young Pharmacist of the Year.

Ms Moses, who is a UQ pharmacy graduate and Churchill Fellow, established Australia’s first full-time medication hotline, the Queensland Medication Helpline (QMH), in 1995 at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital as part of a research project.

“There was an obvious gap in access to quality drug information by consumers so we created a telephone-based information service to provide expert advice on side effects, long-term effects, interaction between drugs and drug abuse direct to consumers,” Ms Moses said.

She said a consortium involving the QMH had only recently launched the first national medicines information service for Australian consumers called The Medicines Line, funded by the National Prescribing Service.

An active member on numerous committees, Ms Moses has also played a key role in educating the wider community about medicines and health by making regular appearances on radio and television, including on her own radio talk-back show, and frequently speaking at national and international conferences.

She also acts as a visiting lecturer in complementary medicines, consumer drug information and media issues at UQ’s School of Pharmacy.

For her doctorate research, Ms Moses instigated the Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Project, Australia’s first pilot program of adverse drug reaction reporting by consumers.

“Reporting adverse reactions to medicines is a task usually performed by health professionals, but we have found that including consumers in the process has increased both the number, breadth and quality of reports, particularly regarding herbal and alternative medicines,” she said.

A panel of past and present National PSA Presidents selected Ms Moses as the Pharmacist of the Year, which was open to Australian pharmacists from all areas of practice. She plans to use the prize-money to fund her university education expenses.

The Young Pharmacist of the Year award is open to 35-year-olds and under with less than 10 years’ experience as a practising pharmacist.

Nominated for her innovative research and valuable contributions to pharmacy practice, especially in rural and remote Queensland, 29-year-old Ms Nissen is a UQ pharmacy graduate who has also recently submitted her PhD and is a postdoctoral research fellow in UQ’s School of Pharmacy.

Her PhD entitled Quality Use of Medicines – From Drug Use Evaluation to Rural Community Pharmacy Practice focused on the quality use of medicine, particularly in community pharmacy practice. Additional research funded by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has led to a new model of care for complex patients, which has demonstrated the potential of pharmacists to improve quality of life, clinical outcomes and reduce health system costs.

“Community pharmacists in regional areas are in an ideal position to aid in the integration of care for patients with complex needs because of their unique relationships with patients and other health professionals,” Ms Nissen said.

She is currently working in the implementation of a rural telepharmacy (videophone technology) project that aims to bring rural and remote pharmacists closer to doctors, patients and indigenous health workers.

Her contribution to the field of pharmacy and the wider community also includes membership to a number of professional organisations and committees and strong links with community-based health professional groups.

Before taking up the position of lecturer at UQ in June, Ms Nissen plans to spend her prize-money on an eight-week trip to Canada to discuss her research into rural and remote pharmacy with various universities.

Media: For further information, contact Ms Moses (telephone 07 3840 8591, email: 32phach@mater.org.au), Ms Nissen (telephone 07 3365 3195, mobile 0412 007 089, email: l.nissen@pharmacy.uq.edu.au) or Joanne van Zeeland at UQ Communications (telephone 07 3365 2619, email: communications@uq.edu.au).