Faculty lead occasional study abroad opportunities that are open to pharmacy and sometimes pre-pharmacy students.
In Winter 2015-2016, 23 professional and pre-professional students participated in an interprofessional course set in London, England. Through lectures, fieldtrips, and tours, students explored the shared history of healthcare and discovered the divergent health policy paths of the two countries. This course is generally offered every two years.
Nine pharmacy and pre-pharmacy students traveled to Tokyo to learn about pharmacy practice in Japan in summer 2015. Partnering with Kitasato Univerity School of Pharmacy, students had many opportunities to learn about pharmacy services through lectures, field trips, and tours. Several cultural experiences with Kitasato University pharmacy students allowed participants to explore the sights, food, and social aspects of Tokyo.
Thirty-six health professional students traveled to London, England during the University of Kentucky’s Winter Intercession to partake in a course called Healthcare Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: A Comparison of American and United Kingdom Health Systems.
The course, taught by UK College of Pharmacy faculty member and alumna Melody Ryan and former College faculty member Doug Steinke, took the students on an educational voyage through the National Health Service (NHS). NHS is a government-sponsored healthcare system, which is publicly-funded, and allows every British citizen to receive “free” health care at the point of service.
Though the majority of students on the trip were pharmacy students, several other disciplines were represented as well, including pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-pharmacy, and public health students.
Following daily lectures by Drs. Ryan and Steinke, the class embarked on either a self-guided or group excursion. Some of these excursions included the Royal College of Physicians, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, The British Museum, and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital [more formally known as the Royal Hospital of St. Bartholomew].
Such tours and visits furthered our knowledge of the different fields though the variety of museum exhibits and excursions. One example was a tour of an old operating theater and the old underground World War II hospital at Dover. These exhibits contrasted the different procedural and antiseptic medical techniques over time. This experience put in to perspective how much seemingly simple things such as sterility and analgesic care are taken for granted with today’s technical advances.
Naturally, with a world-class city at their fingertips, students had the opportunity to venture out on their own to take in all that London had to offer. Such outings included Tower of London, The London Eye, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and a futbol (soccer) match.
Pharmacy students had the opportunity to take part in an in-depth comparison of the American and British healthcare systems. The students toured a community pharmacy and interviewed a pharmacist about various aspects of their daily duties and responsibilities.
“It was strange to see how similar in appearance but different in operations their career was in many ways. The set up and concept of filling prescriptions was the same, however, because the NHS is in place they do not often deal with billing private insurance for prescriptions, freeing up their time for more patient care,” said Megan Moore, a second-year PharmD student. “There also were subtle differences such as all unit dose boxes (which had brail on them) and certain prescription only products in the United States were found over the counter in London, such as Voltaren gel.”
Not only did the class learn about the present day health system, students learned about historical sites dating back to the earlier part of 1000AD – historic venues such as Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, and Hampton Court Palace.
“Spending two weeks in London really gave us the opportunity to be immersed in the culture of the city,” said Amanda Bausch, a second-year PharmD student. “We got to experience this even more because few people had international cells phones or constant access to the Internet. This forced us to get our noses out of our and see the world around us. With the lack of Internet and technology we had to depend on paper maps and our own sense of direction to find our way around the city. While we were exploring we participated in many cultural standards such as taking the Tube, double decker red busses, and fish and chips at a local pub.”
“Traveling to a foreign country is always an amazing experience; the opportunity to do this with your classmates was an experience to create memories that will last a lifetime,” said Moore. “While if we went on this trip alone we would have seen many of the standard tourist attractions, we may not have learned as much about a system that greatly impacts the society and culture of England. It is a trip that we would highly recommend to any student with the opportunity; the amount that we learned in two weeks was more than we would have learned from a textbook over the semester. Hearing the firsthand accounts of how beneficial the NHS is on British citizens lives is something that surprised and greatly impacted us all, motivating us to encourage healthcare reform in the United States.”