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.
Greetings from Pennsylvania, USA. I am currently stateside and in between my 2nd and 3rd visits to Uganda as part of the Fulbright Specialist Project. The Autumn season is in full bloom here with the leaves on the trees turning from greens to yellows, oranges, reds, or browns and then dropping off the trees. I have included some pictures so that my Ugandan readers and others from parts of the world without this change in season can see what I mean. The weather has also turned cooler with highs around 65F (18C) and lows around 34F (1C). Although that seems cold to some, this is my favorite time of year.
If you are a regular reader you know I have been helping to develop curriculum to teach 3rd and 4th year pharmacy students Pharmaceutical Care Skills for the Pharmacy School at Makerere University. When I was there for the first 4 weeks of the semester, I taught the new course and introduced skills like how to talk to patients to gather information about their symptoms and the past medications taken. The students then learned to take this along with any pertinent data from the medical chart and determine if there are any drug therapy problems that a pharmacist could help to alleviate. Finally the students learned how to present this information to the physician in the form of a recommendation that could help improve the patient’s health outcomes.
The other part of the course is to take the information learned in class to the hospital where students interact with patients and their caregivers and work with the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Interns to apply their skills to help real patients get better. This is called Experiential Learning.
Since I’ve been away from Uganda, the Makerere faculty, along with assistance from USA volunteer Pharmacists working with HVO (Healthcare Volunteers Overseas), have been continuing to teach the course and work with students at Mulago National Referral Hospital. Although I’m not there on site, I have been able to keep up with the goings on via the Pharmacy Students’ Reflective writing assignment that is uploaded to the Makerere eLearning Management System. Not only has this allowed me to see the evidence of the students’ learning from their descriptions of how they have used their knowledge and skills at the hospital to help improve drug therapy for the patients, but often they have included their own comments about how the experiential learning component is helping them to see their role as pharmacists-to-be from another perspective. I get an overall sense from their insightful remarks that they are really motivated and excited about this new role. And, this motivates and excites me!! Here, see for yourself in the words of some of the Makerere Pharmacy students, which I have extracted from their Reflective Writing Assignments.
“Overall it is a great learning experience and gives us as students an insight of what to expect in the future as pharmacists. We get to see areas of improvement as a department and as a hospital in all. Students also get to practice and improve their clinical communication skills with both the doctors and fellow medical practitioners and also teaches students to work as a team, both as students and as team players in the health care system.’
“I felt like I was an important member of the health care team since my advice could be important in patient care.”
“Felt encouraged to read more so that I can be in a better position to give medications and management of medical conditions.”
“The whole thought process to identify what exactly was ailing this patient was very stimulating and made me feel as though I was part of a real medical team. It made me realise that not everything in medicine is always black and white, and sometimes we are faced with enigmas, or what we may call idiosyncrasies.”
“First and foremost I am grateful for having the wonderful sessions on clinical pharmacy skills practice. I know this can revolutionize our practice in the field of pharmacy and delighted to be part of the squad to bring this revolution in the practice of pharmacy in Uganda and elsewhere. Thanks to all the lecturers and special thanks to KarenBeth Bohan.” (emphasis was the student’s)
“Today’s experience has been of great value in shaping my ways to approach and get whatever information to make my practice a success. For its said, one learns how to swim only from the water and also it is a common saying that you learn from your previous mistakes.”
“I must say it was an eye-opener towards my practice. I look up to building my clinical skills so I can become a competent pharmacist.”
“The experience I’ve had today and the information and skills I’ve acquired so far in clinical pharmacy have helped me get an interest in this branch of pharmacy and will improve on how I care for patients as a pharmacist in future. It has also changed what I think of pharmacy as a profession because I originally thought it was just about dispensing drugs and collecting a pay cheque! Am now realizing its wider and more interesting.”
“These hospital exposures are going to enable me improve my skills in relating with patients and making the right decisions that will improve drug therapy outcomes in the patients that I will deal with in the future.”