Building Bridges: Findlay faculty member works internationally to improve pharmacy education
Understanding and adapting to this rapidly changing world is critical for both personal and professional success. Chandra Sekar, Ph.D., a Findlay professor of pharmaceutical sciences and international ambassador for pharmacy education, strives every day to make that success available for people around the world. An advocate for bridging knowledge gaps between American and Indian pharmacy programs, Sekar works with universities on both continents to expose students to alternative practices and cultures. For his tireless work, he was the recipient of the 2019 B.M. Mithal memorial award from his alma mater Birla Institute of Technology and Science and the 2018 M.L. Khorana memorial award from the Indian Pharmacy Association. He was also invited to be a speaker at the 78th International Pharmacy Federation World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, presenting his paper, Global collaboration to improve student learning and patient outcomes. At Findlay, he shares his gift through international Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotation opportunities in both United Arab Emirates and India that students can pursue in their final year of the Doctorate of Pharmacy program.
Globalization in the 21st century drives Sekar’s work and his philosophy has been inspired by Thomas L. Friedmans book The World is Flat. In this book, ‘flat-earth’ is used as a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field where the rapid rate of technological and economic development creates bonds between countries that have never existed before. “The study abroad program provides a personal and professional growth experience for Findlay students that will allow them to navigate their professional career successfully in the ever flattening 21st century,” Sekar said. “My efforts over the last nine years have been successful; my goal in the coming decade is to make this program sustainable and to see quantifiable positive health outcomes for patient population in India.”
Sekar contemplates the major changes which developing nations and established societies are undergoing when planning his work. While the world’s population is growing, growth is not consistent between countries. Africa and India have high birth rates, which will lead to a high population of young people, while almost all western countries will have a higher population of elderly requiring healthcare services. As most medical conditions require drugs for their treatment, optimal use of pharmaceuticals in all countries is absolutely necessary to control healthcare costs. There is a need for increased representation from all sections of the societies which means improving affordability and accessibility for college education to a wider section of society.
Another motivating factor is that disease does not discriminate. “In a ‘flat world’ there are no physical barriers to prevent spread of diseases and a new virus that appears in India can emerge in America within 24 hours,” he explains. “While healthcare professionals need to have expertise in the disease they see frequently, a general awareness of what afflicts the rest of the world is important.” Typically, American pharmacy focuses on patient care, while Indian pharmacy education deals mainly with drug manufacturing. Sekar believes that the exchange of information enables Indian pharmacists to set higher goals for their practice at home.
While enjoying his experiences abroad, Sekar finds comfort and happiness at his Findlay home. Originally from a small college town himself, he always had an interest in teaching. When a pharmacology position opened at Findlay, his background as a research faculty member at University of Alabama and a staff pharmacist at the University of Cincinnati provided a strong base for pursuing his dream job. Joining Findlay’s staff in 2007, his primary responsibility was to develop and coordinate the cardiovascular module as well as instruct the pharmacology component in the immune and gastrointestinal module. Now, he splits his time between instructing his classes, creating more international opportunities and presenting at domestic and international conferences. To learn more about Dr. Sekar’s work at Findlay, visit his faculty profile or read the feature story about his student’s study abroad experience.