It is a common misconception that rigorous academic programs leave no time for the classic college experience of studying abroad. At Findlay, not only is studying abroad an option, it is built into many of our academic programs so that our students can experience cultural diversity while still graduating on time. Our students aren’t just taking general education classes online while in a different country, they have the opportunity to study material relevant to their future profession on an international scale. In this new series of stories, various colleges and programs will be highlighted for the work they do to provide their students with global learning experiences.
College of Pharmacy
Anyone who has sat in a doctor’s room knows that the medical field in America can be trying at times. But how much do we really know about what goes on behind the scenes? And what do we have to compare it to? Over the 2019 winter break, eight pharmacy students gained a whole new perspective on western medicine during a five-week study abroad trip to India. While on the trip, they completed an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE), a requirement of receiving a doctorate in pharmacy, by doing hospital rounds in various cities. They also had the privilege of attending lectures at Indian universities which covered medicinal practices uncommon to America such as herbal products, unusual diseases states and Ayurveda, an Eastern practice of medicine. It wasn’t all work for the students. In their downtime, they went on a safari, participated in a Hindu ceremony celebrating the river and explored new food and languages in the city centers.
“Having a study abroad experience specifically focused on pharmacy provided us with the opportunity to see the practice of our profession in a foreign environment,” said year six student Johnathan Mitchell. “Through the trip, I saw key differences in university and hospital practice, and can use that knowledge to expand the scope of my future work.” During the trip, students saw diseases such as malaria, Dengue fever, typhoid and elephantiasis, which are incredibly rare in the United States.
A week of the trip was spent learning about Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine considered to be the oldest healing science. The students learned the history and techniques of Ayurveda and experienced some treatments themselves. Successful pharmacists consider patients cultural background when communicating medical care. As Cassandra Orahood, a sixth-year student states, “Too often we close ourselves off and forget that the American way is not the only way. What you think is normal may completely go against your patients’ culture and will impact how they react to medical treatments.”
The students had different backgrounds, knowledge and goals going into the trip, but each were able to experience both personal and professional growth. Year six student Erica Hagen had always enjoyed going to international events hosted by the University of Findlay, but knew from the beginning that she wanted to study abroad. “I’ve always wanted to be more cultured. I knew my perspective was going to change but I could not comprehend how,” Erica explained. “For every experience you have there is someone who has experienced the extreme opposite, and the appreciation that this mindset can give you is enlightening.
Led by professor of pharmaceutical science Chandra Sekar, Ph.D., the students were able to enter into the world of Eastern medicine through his connections. An alumnus of Birla Institute of Technology and recipient of an Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) award, Sekar is currently the University of Findlay’s International Ambassador for Pharmacy Education. In this position, he works to develop immersive opportunities for Findlay pharmacy students in India and the United Arab Emirates. “Dr. Sekar inspired me to think of people and patients as part of a world larger than the one immediately around us,” said Mitchell. Sekar plans a study abroad trip once a year. Findlay students in their sixth year, their final year, are able to participate in this opportunity. The five weeks spent abroad count towards their APPE hours and prevent any delay in graduation.
To learn more about the academic experiences in Findlay’s College of Pharmacy please visit https://www.findlay.edu/pharmacy/.