Dual Degree Led to a Change in Perspective around Patient Care for Swana Thomas PharmD’18 MPH’18

By Katherine Tancredi

Published on November 26, 2018

Swana ThomasSwana Thomas PharmD’18 MPH’ 18 will start her career as a pharmacist with a better grasp of the possibilities pharmacists have to impact public health because of a dual degree program she completed at USciences.

Thomas said the combination of pharmacy and public health will help her to be a more patient-centered pharmacist and helped her to fall in love with the profession in a new way.

“On my first day of public health classes, my professor told me a story,” recalled Thomas. “Imagine that there was a flood ravaging Philadelphia. The clinicians (such as the pharmacists) would dive in and save as many patients as possible. But the public health representative, she would…find the source of the problem and find a solution. Two different solutions solving the same problem. In a similar way, I believe that public health allows me to focus on the patient from a holistic and preventative point of view.”

Thomas received immense support for her pursuit of a dual degree from her professors, particularly MPH program director and associate professor of health policy Julie Becker, PhD, MPH, and director of advanced pharmacy practice experiences and clinical pharmacy instructor Scott D. Greene, RPh, MS. However, her time at USciences was not without its struggles.

“If there is no mold that fits you, make one yourself,” said Thomas, offering advice to incoming students. “Your career will one day be your career and yours alone, so if you don’t like the avenues available in your profession, find ways to create your own. You’d be surprised to know how many people will support you along the way.”

Thomas made her decision to attend USciences primarily because of the strong reputation of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. It was known as one of the best at advancing the profession, which is what Thomas ultimately wanted.

“It was the school known for knowledgeable and professional pharmacists and one of the best,” said Thomas. “I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”

“I had high points and low points, but I am thankful for the ‘USciences Struggle’ because it made me stronger than I ever thought I could be in this field,” said Thomas. “For instance, I used to get so frustrated at multiple edits to a single paper… but I realized that in real life, you might have help a patient fix one single problem that they struggle with, over and over again. But as their pharmacist, shouldn't we be patient and willing to do so?”

After graduation, Thomas will start work as a PGY1 ambulatory care resident at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She hopes to continue her career in an ambulatory care setting and down the road returning to academia.

Categories: News, Alumni, Proven Everywhere, Student, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration, Pharmacy, Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy, Department of Health Policy, Public Health