Global education experiences give COP and visiting students new perspective on pharmacy practice

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September 24, 2021

Students meeting with Brutus
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Since 2008, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy (COP) Global Pharmacy Initiative has given both Taiwanese university students and COP students a unique way to expand understanding of pharmacy practice through international collaboration.

This relationship between COP, National Taiwan University (NTU) and China Medical University (CMU) began with a student rotation and has since added a PharmD elective course and a clinical pharmacy training program. The college also strengthened its global relationship with Taiwan by adding a new university, Taipei Medical University (TMU), in 2015.

Learning with rotational experiences

Each year, two to three COP students attend either NTU or CMU through Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations and two to three students from NTU and CMU come to the College of Pharmacy to observe pharmacy practice in APPE rotation spaces such as the Wexner Medical Center. Rotational experiences last anywhere from four to eight weeks.

The rotations allow students to examine how each country uniquely practices pharmacy within different disciplines and settings. At the end of the experience, both COP students and visiting students present what they have learned to university faculty where they are visiting.

“It provides a unique and immersive opportunity for students to observe the similarities and differences of East and West medicines,” said Jennifer Rodis, PharmD, BCPS, FAPhA, associate dean for outreach and engagement and professor of pharmacy practice at COP. “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for example plays a much bigger role in Taiwan’s health care system and our students get to learn about it through this collaboration.”

Student Yiche Huang suits up for learning experience
Student Yiche Huang suits up for a learning experience

TCM is a form of alternative medicine rooted in cultural tradition used to supplement medication regimen. COP students learn the benefits of purposeful herbs and see herb gardens operated by pharmacies abroad.

The experience isn’t limited to cultural differences or TCM; students observe the Taiwanese’s method of structural workflow and methods of patient care.

“Something that has always amazed students is the efficiency of Taiwanese pharmacists,” Dr. Rodis said. “Taiwan doesn’t have pharmacy techs, yet they and fill thousands of prescriptions each day at a level that is almost unheard of in the United States.”

Pharmacy elective helps students understand differences in unique way

In 2010, COP expanded its partnership with CMU to offer a seven-week PharmD elective in the fall and later partnered with TMU.

The course is centered around a relevant global health care theme and at the end of the course, students take what they learn and present it in an eccentric way.

“Students do these hilarious skits that illustrate how differently pharmacists and pharmacies address the selected issue each year,” Dr. Rodis said. “Students get to learn about pharmacy practice and national health care systems from one another. It’s probably one of the more unique ways to learn about each other’s practices. It’s also really meaningful because the deans from all of the colleges attend to support these collaborative relationships and learn with the classes.”

Training pharmacists through a new global partnership

Ya-Han Lee on her Children's Hospital rotation
Clinical pharmacist from TMU, Ya-Han Lee, on her Nationwide Children's Hospital rotation

As TMU partnered with COP on its PharmD elective course, TMU Hospital looked for opportunities to train their pharmacists in a global setting.

Elizabeth Chang, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacy at TMU and College of Pharmacy alumna, helped facilitate a program in which pharmacists from TMU hospital would come to the United States and train at the Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital for a six-to-12-week period.

Periodically, the college hears from the Taiwanese students and pharmacists who took part in one of the programs.

“It is really interesting to hear from the students and pharmacists who participated in this program and have gone back to their home country and implemented changes in their practice,” said Ashley Knackstedt, program assistant to pharmacy practice and science initiatives.

“These relationships with the Taiwanese universities are ways that students can gain new experiences and expand how they think about health care,” said Jennifer Seifert MS, RPh, BCGP, director of continuing professional development at COP. “It gives them a whole new perspective and I appreciate the benefit of this relationship for our students.”