Posted on March 28, 2018 by Amanda Reitz

Three Concordia University Wisconsin pharmacy students recently wrapped up a six-week experiential learning experience in Zambia, the first of its kind for students of Concordia’s School of Pharmacy. As part of their graduation requirements, pharmacy students participate in seven, six-week rotations at different sites, where they put their pharmaceutical skills into practice.

Students Taylor Poulsen, Amanda Bartosik, and Jared Gillingham approached School of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Dean Arneson with a request to complete one of their rotations in Africa.

Arneson reached out to some of his professional contacts in Zambia who agreed to precept the students. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the students began a learning experience that split their time between the University Teaching Hospital in the capital city of Lusaka and Livingstone General Hospital in Livingstone.

“This was a tremendous opportunity for both programs to learn from one another,” Arneson notes. “In previous education experiences such as this, both parties learned about doing things differently and the students learned about the different culture in the best way possible—by being immersed in it.”

The three students are scheduled to graduate in May with their PharmD degrees. The Zambia experience was their last rotation before commencement.

While in Zambia the trio worked in pediatric and adult HIV clinics where they dispensed and counseled on HIV medications. They also participated in ward rounds where they observed and learned about treatment regimens of disease states they wouldn’t normally see in the US, such as malaria, tuberculosis, opportunistic infections brought on by poorly treated HIV, and malnutrition in children.

Additionally, the group compounded chemo medications in the cancer department and even had the opportunity to provide input to the Zambian pharmacists on areas of improvement, such as fundamentals of sterile compounding.

“This experience taught us that there is an ideal way to treat and a realistic way,” says Bartosik. “Resources are very limited in Zambia and we’ve had to learn to adapt our recommendations to the resources that were available even if they weren’t considered ‘first line.’ As a result, we’re all more well versed on drug regimens and counseling.”

Upon graduation, Bartosik will embark upon a pharmacy residency at Froedert Community Memorial Hospital. Poulsen and Gillingham will head into community/retail pharmacy. They’re confident their overseas experience will prove beneficial in their futures.

“We all agreed that everyone should take advantage of an opportunity like this if it arises,” Bartosik says. “It has definitely made us appreciate what we have here in the states, but also helped us realize that our American way is not the only way.”

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