Physiology wins top student award

Top of class: Portsmouth graduate Sam Nightingale has won national award

Top of class: Portsmouth graduate Sam Nightingale has won national award

A University of Portsmouth science graduate has won a national award for exceptional talent, including helping inform improvements in access to bowel cancer screening.

Sam Nightingale, 26, was awarded a first class degree in human physiology last summer and last week won Top Graduate Award from the Royal Society of Biology.

The award was presented at the Houses of Parliament.

It was Sam’s second degree – he was awarded a foundation degree in paramedic science, also from Portsmouth, in 2012 – and he’s about to begin studying for his third, after being accepted to study medicine.

He was nominated for the award by course leader Dr Louise Turner, after coming top in his year alongside working part-time as a paramedic.

Sam said: “I knew I’d achieved well when I received my marks, but finding out about my nomination came as a pleasant surprise.

“Luckily, I have a fantastic better-half who would keep me on the ball when I started to lapse in motivation; without her I would not have worked as hard as I did, and in turn would not have achieved as well I did.

“I was very flattered when I heard that I had won and can only speculate as to what the judges saw in me. It was lovely to feel an extra reward and a bit of pride for the blood, sweat and tears of 2016.”

Sam’s dissertation was used as evidence by Healthwatch Portsmouth to inform improvements in how local people access bowel cancer screening in the city.

Patrick Fowler, from Healthwatch Portsmouth, said: “We are so pleased Sam has received this award. He worked really hard on the cancer screening project and produced a very professional and credible report that has been well received by health decision-makers. Healthwatch Portsmouth is all about involving local people to improve local health and care services and it was great having Sam on board to do this.”

Sam nearly didn’t return to university to study the course.

He’d been working as a paramedic for five years and said: “The anatomy and physiology aspect to paramedic science was always of interest to me, as well as vital in underpinning clinical practice. I felt it was a logical move to expand my knowledge of human physiology, so I got in touch with my old tutors.

“I wasn’t that enthused by going back to study initially, but having found my academic feet I’m finding myself getting addicted and yearning for more.”

Course leader Dr Louise Turner said: “We in the human physiology team are very pleased for Sam. He was, without doubt, extremely deserving of this award. It is so rewarding to see a student with such clear vision of his professional and academic aspiration and the way this is embedded into his journey at university.”

Sam’s colleagues have congratulated him on the award but he added: “The ambulance service is full of talented, hard working, highly qualified people who are outright geniuses compared to me.”

Sam found out he’d won after finishing the highly competitive application process to study postgraduate medicine, for which he now has two offers to begin studying in October.

In the meantime, he will continue working as a paramedic in Hampshire.


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