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Pharmacy students work internationally

Each year, pharmacy students have the opportunity to study abroad through the International Experiential Learning Program at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. To graduate as a pharmacist, the degree program lasts six years versus an average four-year college degree. This makes studying abroad through Drake’s regular abroad program almost impossible for many pharmacy students.

This program allows students to go abroad during either their second or fourth year of pharmacy school. The abroad programs last an average of four weeks and give students the opportunity to experience hands-on learning in other countries.

“(Students) are generally working with pharmacists in whatever location they are at,” said John Rovers, the associate professor of pharmacy practice. He has coordinated some of the abroad programs.

“(They) are basically doing the same kinds of learning activities a clinical student would do here, but they are doing it under supervision in a different location,” he said. Students are able to choose from a list of 12 countries ranging from El Salvador to Korea. The three most popular destinations for pharmacy students are Australia, Belize and Tanzania.

“We generally have location sites set up either through other universities where we have partnerships, or because we have had faculty that have had work experience in those countries and have contacts there where we can get students to work with practitioners globally,” Rovers said.

Students studying through the pharmacy abroad program are able to receive anywhere from one to five credits, depending on the length of their stay.

Drake student Marissa Dittmer  travelled to Australia through the abroad program during the summer of her P4 year. “Australia utilizes a national health care system, and I was able to experience firsthand the positives and negatives associated with socialized health care,” Dittmer said. “I was able to fully immerse myself in the pharmacy work flow and everyday tasks such as methadone dispensing, counseling and over-the-counter product selection.”

For the 2011-12 school year there are 33 students who have either gone abroad or are currently abroad through this program.

“(For most sites) you have to find your own housing, with the exception of…South Africa, Belize and Australia,” said Kathy Schott, the director of experiential external affairs at Drake.

An International Experiential Learning Program trip can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. Aside from tuition, students  are expected to pay for their airfare, food, and living expenses.

For more information about the International Experiential Learning Program, visit the Office of Experiential Learning located in upper Olin Hall.

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