A new rotation based out of Guatemala gave P-4 students Matthew McClure, Melissa Laub, and Chandler Follett the experience of a lifetime.
Nestled in a banana plantation just 30 kilometers off the coast and a 45-minute drive to the nearest city, the students spent their time conducting screenings, dispensing medications, and consulting with patients.
“I've always believed if there is anywhere we as pharmacists should be focusing our energy, it's in developing countries,” said Follett. “I am passionate about passing on my education to those without educational opportunities, and I knew Guatemala was a chance to do exactly that.”
The experience not only gave them hands-on opportunities to practice what they’d learned over the past three years, but also challenged them to make the rotation their own.
“Pharmacy students have the opportunity to interact directly with patients, assist the pharmacy technician, and develop plans with the doctors and residents,” said Laub. “Because this is a new rotation, our faculty encouraged us to perform our own needs assessment of the pharmacy, and we were given the autonomy to determine which projects we think would be most beneficial to focus on during our time there. One of my goals was to develop guides and resources to help future pharmacy students interested in this rotation.”
A new perspective
The time spent in Guatemala also provided students another perspective on how pharmacy is managed in other countries.
“Being down there, you see the polar opposite of how pharmacy is managed in America as opposed to other countries,” said McClure. “Here, it’s very guarded and regulated; there, it’s a sort of free-for-all, and there can be benefits to both. Here, you have to see a doctor before getting a prescription; while there, they can just walk up to any pharmacy and get what they need. ”
Now back home, all three students are in for a new journey after graduation. Laub will be completing a PGY1 Residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN next year. Following, she plans to pursue a PGY2 that focuses on organ transplant pharmacy and someday complete a Master’s of Public Health.
McClure, too, will continue on to do a PGY1 residency in Boise, Id. at a level-two trauma hospital.
And Follett plans to work with underserved communities in Colorado while pursuing a Master’s in Global Public Health and learning French. She plans to apply for Doctors Without Borders following.