#OSURx Buckeyes go international: experiencing the world through a pharmacy lens

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June 19, 2019

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Learning at Ohio State isn’t confined to classrooms on campus. College of Pharmacy students have the opportunity to become global learners and leaders through education abroad experiences, allowing them to see how healthcare systems work all over the world.

In partnership with the Office of International Affairs, the college offers short-term education abroad experiences annually to undergraduate and professional students. These unique opportunities help students gain an understanding of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries across the globe, enabling them to relate their experiences to their future careers.

In past years, students have traveled to Italy and England, and most recently visited Switzerland during the 2019 spring break. The nine-day programs provide students the opportunity for an international experience while not interfering with their education. Time in-country is spent visiting pharmaceutical, historical and cultural sites, enabling students to engage with healthcare practitioners and experience the country through a pharmacy lens.

Students accepted into the program participate in the International Healthcare Experience in Pharmacy course which meets weekly prior to departure. During the course, students learn about pharmacy practice and healthcare considerations of the destination, alongside preparations for international travel.

Discover how some of our students have been impacted by their trips:

"My week abroad was extremely transformative. It highlighted a sense of independence I found in myself after surviving a week spent thousands of miles away from Ohio. Not only did my trip solidify my passion for pharmacy, it opened my mind to the ways the profession could advance in the future – it made me think about what my role could be in this ever-evolving healthcare field. It was exciting to feel so secure in my career path." Jen Slogar, BSPS Class of 2018

“My trip showed me how even though the profession is the same at the core, it can look different between countries and it inspired some ideas within me for how I can improve the profession. In Switzerland, there is a larger implementation of technology in community pharmacies and a connection with public health opportunities, like encouraging people to get vaccinated or not smoke. Seeing pharmacists in a public health focused role was exciting and gave me a better idea of how I can impact the profession in the states.” Nick Hamilton, BSPS Class of 2021

Students in front of Buckingham Palace“I’ve been fortunate to travel on three of the trips and each trip taught me something invaluable that I will carry with me throughout my career. In London, I saw how pharmacists were involved in all aspects of patient care, which inspired me to want to further advocate for the profession in the states. In Italy, I learned how important it is to be a compassionate care provider, seeing how pharmacists interact with patients who aren’t fluent in the native language. In Switzerland, I discovered that it is possible to work in community pharmacy without burnout and stress, experiencing how their pharmacies put a focus on staffing and technology.” Carissa Tedeschi, BSPS Class of 2018, PharmD Class of 2022

“Seeing the different areas of pharmacy around Switzerland allowed me to have a greater appreciation for the profession and has helped me feel more prepared for not only pharmacy school but also working with diverse populations. Witnessing how healthcare professionals treat patients in different environments but are all united under the common idea of serving others was a priceless experience.” Jordan Fortunato, BSPS Class of 2021

“Having a multicultural background myself, I have always been interested in learning about different cultures, especially with how they relate to my education and future career. In Switzerland, we were able to see both sides of the pharmacy profession, including drug discovery and pharmacy practice. This trip showed me that the profession can only advance if these two areas work together. It inspired me to think more about my communications skills and what I can be doing now to think outside the box and work better with my peers.” Yuki Lin, BSPS Class of 2020

Aside from study abroad trips, students are able to experience pharmacy and patient care through opportunities with organizations like the Partnership for Ongoing Developmental, Educational and Medical Outreach Solutions (PODEMOS) and Child Family Health International (CFHI).

PODEMOS is a Honduran and U.S. based healthcare team of professionals and students seeking to combat the high rates of poverty, malnutrition and poor access to health care in El Progreso by providing quality long-term care. Beginning as a student initiative in 2008, the partnership has allowed the brigade to return biannually to provide acute and chronic care services to patients. Pharmacy students Egla Agolli, Smit Patel and Emily Veach joined physicians and students from Ohio State’s College of Medicine in running a free clinic to provide underprivileged communities with primary health care services during winter break 2018.

“These trips are a manifestation of the college’s commitment to students’ personal and professional development as well as to the global community,” Veach said. “Through this experience, I learned what it means to be a true patient advocate.”

CFHI provides community-based global health education programs for students and institutions, fostering reciprocal partnerships and empowerment in local communities, transforming perspectives about self, healing and global citizenship. During summer 2019, undergraduate student Danielle Abdallah will head to Accra, Ghana to conduct a study on the healthcare systems in the United States and Ghana. While volunteering and shadowing healthcare providers at the Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital, Abdallah plans to gather information on the role of various healthcare providers at the hospital, which can include physicians, nurses, nutritionists, social workers and others.

“I want to learn about the healthcare team’s education, daily responsibilities, day-to-day challenges and interprofessional relationships,” Abdallah said. “In the healthcare field, it is very important to cultivate a collaborative approach to providing patient care, a value that is important for pre-professionals to recognize. I believe that my experience in Ghana will enhance my appreciation for different members of the healthcare team.”