Published April 9, 2019
The University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (UB SPPS) took part in several mission trips to assist underserved populations in early 2019.
In collaboration with Sharing Christ Our Redeemer Enterprises (SCORE) International, a short-term mission organization, four PharmD students, accompanied by preceptor Gina Prescott, clinical associate professor, pharmacy practice, and Ciera Patzke, PharmD ’16, visited the Dominican Republic. Clinics were held in Honduras, La Paloma, San Pedro, Duquesa and Valiente, where underserved patients were counseled on medication dosing and selections. Students worked with local medical providers on medication selection and preparation, assisted with administering surgical procedures, and medically examined nursing home residents.
One student reflecting on their experience of serving in this remote and distressed community said, “This trip has challenged me to become more conscientious about how to identify and reach the community in need around me and how to bridge the gap in healthcare.”
Four students from the UB PharmD program also visited Haiti on a mission trip to provide essential healthcare services to disadvantaged communities in the region.
At clinics located in Fontaine, L’Quest, and Port-Au-Prince, students provided a wide range of assessments, including eye and ear exams, blood pressure readings, and medication counseling to a vast number of patients. The team realized that some Fontaine residents were lacking basic health education and needed counseling and education to understand certain health issues. One student said, “It felt great that we were able to provide basic hygiene, diet/exercise, sexual health, and nutritional tips to these patients."
Two PharmD students participated in an interdisciplinary mission trip to Belize with fellow students from the UB School of Nursing. The trip was led by International Service Learning (ISL), an organization that offers volunteers practical experience through medical, education, and community enrichment programs.
Students worked with patients in the Northern Regional Hospital and were overseen by Clinical Assistant Professor and faculty preceptor Al Reiman. Students were met with the challenge of treating patients with symptoms related to their different lifestyle and tropical environment that are not usually seen in the United States. One student who was tasked with the responsibility of interviewing patients said, “This opened my eyes to how to go about interviewing a patient and using their lifestyle to rule out certain conditions.”
In collaboration with the UB School of Management and the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, three PharmD students participated in a mission trip in Ghana in January 2019.
Students carried their supplies to a campsite in a local village and served all members of the local community, from small children to a 105-year old village elder.
Students learned the importance of incorporating resourcefulness and teamwork to care for the patients in these remote communities. The experience was reflected by one student who said, “This trip will change how I practice in the future because of how well the healthcare providers worked together.”
Two PharmD students visited Jamaica on a global health trip in collaboration with the University of the West Indies- Mona Campus. Under the direction of Dr. Lisa Chin, an endocrinologist at UWI, students saw patients in the diabetes clinic and completed health informatics research by creating charts for type 1 diabetic patients in their new electronic database. Students also visited a rural clinic in Grants Town, St. Mary, where they saw about 120 patients for a number of conditions such as high blood pressure, upper respiratory infections, GERD, and point of care testing (both HIV and HbA1C).
The hands-on experience of the trip made an impact on one PharmD student, who said, “I’m glad I went on this trip because it helped re-inspire me and helped me to start figuring out what I want to do in pharmacy.”
These mission trips were made possible by the generosity of donors to the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ first crowdfunding campaign, which raised more than $2,500 from more than 50 donors.