Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Recommendations for Planning and Managing International Short-Term Pharmacy Service Trips

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Recommendations for Planning and Managing International Short-Term Pharmacy Service Trips

Article excerpt

International pharmacy service trips by schools and colleges of pharmacy allow students to provide health care to medically underserved areas. A literature review (2000-2016) in databases and Internet searches with specific keywords or terms was performed to assess current practices to establish and maintain successful pharmacy service trips. Educational documents such as syllabi were obtained from pharmacy programs and examined. A preliminary draft was developed and authors worked on sections of interest and expertise. Considerations and current recommendations are provided for the key aspects of the home institution and the host country requirements for pharmacy service trips based on findings from a literature search and the authors' collective, extensive experience. Evaluation of the trip and ethical considerations are also discussed. This article serves as a resource for schools and colleges of pharmacy that are interested in the development of new pharmacy service trips and provides key considerations for continuous quality improvement of current or future activities. Keywords: international, APPE, global, pharmacy, mission


Schools and colleges in all health professions, including pharmacy, are providing opportunities for students to participate in trips to medically underserved areas. (1-11) The literature has shown positive outcomes for pharmacy students who participate in such trips including interprofessional collaboration, application of pharmacy knowledge, and the gratification of providing care to an outside community. (10)

Such trips may be known as mission trips or medical service trips and students may or may not receive academic credit for their participation. Although occasionally these trips may be introductory or advanced pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs or APPEs), this article will focus primarily on pharmacy service trips that are not partofa formal IPPE or APPE program. Although usually offered in underdeveloped countries, some trips may be to medically underserved areas in the United States. In general, students provide health care services under the supervision of a pharmacist or other licensed health care practitioner. Notwithstanding the importance of mission appropriate engagement by schools and colleges of pharmacy as a core component of their institution's vision and mission, since we are emphasizing pharmacy's role in service trips more broadly, we will use the term pharmacy service trips.

Planning requirements for schools and colleges hoping to offer pharmacy service trips to students can be complex and time consuming. Several have been published to assist faculty members charged with planning global/international APPEs and pharmacy service trips for students. (3-9) Alsharif and colleagues published an article on international APPEs in which they addressed current practices for both the home and host country or site and institution. (10) In a second article, Dornblaser and colleagues discussed relevant planning issues including preceptor and student selection and qualifications, and student learning outcomes for international APPEs. (11)

International APPEs can represent one form of pharmacy service trips, however, not all pharmacy service trips are necessarily APPEs. For example, the planning and resources required for a 4-6 week international APPE in partnership with a school or college located in a capital city overseas are not the same as for a short-term (one to six weeks) pharmacy service trip, with or without academic credit. These pharmacy service trips may be to a rural or remote location lacking electricity and running water, and in which the partner is a nongovernmental organization, or liaisons or representatives of local communities. Such experiences provide their own unique issues including different disease burden, limited medications, mechanisms for procurement of medications, safety and health concerns, food and local community or nongovernmental organization partner expectations, capabilities, and resources. …

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