Friday, June 3, 2022

UI College of Pharmacy students are traveling outside of the country again to practice pharmacy and gain career experiences. This development comes after many programs faced a two-year hiatus of international travel related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, this applies to four existing international experiences and two new collaborative partnerships.

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) are a component of professional pharmacy students’ final year of schooling. APPEs—commonly referred to as "rotations"—are a series of five-week experiences at various practice sites throughout the state, country, and world. Through rotations, pharmacy students gain professional experience under the supervision of mentors, called preceptors. 

five women pose in a pharmacy setting in Romania

Three groups of students are currently or soon headed to sites in Japan (Keio University), Romania, and Ireland for two to four weeks during the May to July summer months. The rotations are all a total of five weeks but may include pre-departure training and preparation and post-departure reflection and project components. Next academic year, three additional groups are slated to travel to Dominica, Belize, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE rotation is new this year.

The relationship between institutions was initially started by Susan Vos, the associate dean of student affairs and a clinical professor. The rotation details were solidified by Jeanine Abrons, director of student pharmacists’ international activities and a clinical associate professor for the college, working with UAE partners. The rotation focuses on culturally appropriate care and is based in a critical care hospital.

During the initial pandemic, students did continue to advance collaborative partnerships through innovative virtual exchanges and rotations with countries such as Dominica, Japan, and Romania.

“Since the pandemic learn-from-home and work-from-home orders came in early 2020, we adapted to provide innovative virtual exchanges utilizing the technology advances that we now have,” Abrons said. “We plan to continue to use the resources developed during this time to enhance access to global experiences and to prepare students further to be effective partners prior to international travel.”

“Our forced need to innovate has created many additional opportunities for collaboration. I am excited that students will be able to have expanded options for global exposure both in person and through remote means.”

Last year, Abrons won the AACP Individual Global Impact Award for the Global Education Special Interest Group for her work related to international health and contributing through advancing innovative virtual exchanges and rotations. Additionally, she now serves on the UAE rotation site’s Experiential Advisory Board at Gulf Medical University.

Abrons is currently in Dominica, the site where she serves as a preceptor, to work on an established travel health clinic using telehealth that originated during the pandemic and to renew her medical license in the country.