This in not an official U.S. Department of State (DOS) blog and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the DOS.
Today I am finally all on my own working on this Fulbright Project with the Pharmacy School. My guests from St. John’s University in New York City had to return home this weekend although I believe they would have preferred to stay longer if it were possible, but work and other duties called. All of the faculty and staff and Makerere University have been so welcoming and today I got set up in some office space they have set aside for me. I have a nice roommate, Lucy, who is the Research Coordinator for the Department of Pharmacy. It is quiet enough to be productive but not far at all from the students and lecture halls so that when I need to meet with people, they are just down some stairs. I had a great conversation with the 3rd year Bachelors of Pharmacy class today. I wanted to find out what clinical skills they had already learned and hear their thoughts about the new curriculum I am working on. It seems to be as I had thought-they are introduced to some skills in Year 1 and definitely they learn the theory but very little opportunity to gain experience with these skills during actual patient care. In fact, they really aren’t sure what they will be able to do as pharmacists. When I explained everything I was hoping to accomplish and asked them what they thought about this, they were unanimously very interested. They also said that if they gained new skills they would want to use them in real practice after graduation but they feared entering a workforce where other healthcare professionals won’t be willing to have them participate in direct patient care. Wow, they are so astute and have definitely brought up a big barrier. Developing healthcare team collaborations takes time so part of my project will be focusing on helping the pharmacists already in practice to develop relationships with physicians and nurses and other healthcare providers so that all can work together to help achieve better outcomes for the patients. So with that, I go back to the Advanced Pharmaceutical Care Skills course that 2 Ugandan pharmacists participated in this past Nov/Dec in the USA.
On their very first day in Wilkes-Barre, PA with me, so that they could become “certified” and “credentialed” to work with patients in our hospitals, I had to take them to get the required urine drug testing, CPR certification, and their yearly Flu Shot. For this last one, I specifically took them to one of our Pharmacy Alumni who works at a local Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy and is a certified Pharmacy Immunizer. I wanted Vicky and Patrick to get a first hand look at the kinds of direct patient care activities that pharmacists in the USA are able to do. Training pharmacists to immunize has greatly increased the numbers of patients that are able to be immunized and hopefully is resulting in more diseases prevented. As pharmacists, we are not trying to “take the doctor’s business” of vaccinating but only trying to widen the playing field so that more patients are accessing healthcare where vaccines are available. If Ugandan Pharmacists could immunize, perhaps this could also broaden the reach of those who get vaccines in Uganda!
So after Rich gave us all our Influenza Vaccines, he showed Vicky and Patrick around the shop.
Besides dispensing medications in vials, the Medicine Shoppe also has the capability of providing unit-dosed medications for patients so that all of their pills are in one little bubble for that time of day. This helps patients to remember to take the meds at the correct time and to avoid taking too many by accident.
Vicky and Patrick were amazed that some pharmacies also help patients with Orthotic devices and shoes to prevent foot ailments. For example, diabetic patients can lose feeling in their feet and if they have poor-fitting shoes and they aren’t aware of it because they can’t feel them hurting their feet, they can get really bad wounds which can get infected. This can unfortunately lead to amputations. By being a provider of Orthotics, pharmacists can help diabetics or others with foot problems avoid more catastrophic issues.