College Builds Bridge to Pharmacy Exchange with Nigeria and Nepal

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Three weeks is a lot of time, but when you’re trying to figure out how to implement a professional degree at a university it flies by quickly. That was the challenge for both Dr. Olubukola Oyetunde and Professor Rajani Shakya during their recent visit to St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Oyetunde traveled to St. Louis from the University of Lagos in Nigeria, where she is a lecturer in the department of clinical pharmacy. Shakya is an instructor of pharmacotherapeutics and clinical pharmacy at Kathmandu University in Nepal.

For both women, the goals of the trip were not constrained by time.

“My goal was to see some of the practice over here,” Shakya explains. “Specifically, how the preceptors are working, how clinical pharmacy practices are going, and how the students are learning from the preceptors.”

There are some fundamental differences in the practice of pharmacy in America versus Nepal and Nigeria. In Nepal and Nigeria, the discipline grew out of the pharmaceutical industry as opposed to developing in community pharmacies and hospitals, as in the U.S.

“The areas of clinical and community pharmacy are not strong points for us,” Oyetunde says when talking about her university’s education.

The visit was arranged by Pharmabridge, a program through the International Pharmaceutical Federation designed to improve both pharmacy education and services in developing nations. St. Louis College is one of a handful of colleges of pharmacy in America to host international pharmacy educators.

During their stay, Oyetunde and Shakya took advantage of seeing the College’s faculty in action both in the classroom and at various practice sites, including sites in several community pharmacies and hospitals.

“I didn’t think about curriculum design before coming here, but I’ve discovered the key to the doctor of pharmacy degree is the curriculum,” Oyetunde says. “You need to get the curriculum right. I was thinking of clinical visits, clinical practices, and precepting. I wasn’t looking at the academic aspect of it.”

She adds that in the last 13 years only one of 17 pharmacy schools in Nigeria has taken up the challenge of starting a Pharm.D. program. The rest, she says, offer a bachelor of pharmacy. Her university may be the second to adopt the higher degree. At Kathmandu University in Nepal, the first class of Pharm.D. graduates completed their studies last year. For a program in its infancy, Shakya says the interaction with faculty at the College was invaluable

“There were lots of things we hadn’t thought about,” she says. “Now we are looking at courses from different angles. We also talked to many preceptors, which has been incredibly helpful.”

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