Through the Eyes of a Student: Pharmacy Practice in Istanbul, Turkey

By LaRosa, Mike | Drug Topics, February 2011 | Go to article overview

Through the Eyes of a Student: Pharmacy Practice in Istanbul, Turkey


LaRosa, Mike, Drug Topics


IN MY VIEW

This summer I observed pharmacy practice as few in the United States have seen it. I was entering my third year of professional study and interested in a practice experience abroad. In this country while avenues of practice keep expanding, most would agree that delivery of pharmaceutical care is familiar and standardized. I wanted to see how that would change in a country characterized by different politics, beliefs, and attitudes. In July I headed to Istanbul, Turkey.

My experience began amid a surging, immensely crowded population of 12 million people, 98% of whom are Muslim. The community practice I was going to was located right off Istiklal Avenue in Taksim Square, in the Beyoglu district - perhaps the most diverse and progressive sector of a city steeped in rich tradition.

Routes to professional practice

I quickly learned that for pharmacists in Turkey, primary professional options are in either industry or community pharmacy, specifically independent pharmacy. This is in notable contrast to the status quo in America, where most career paths lead to either retail chains or hospitals and health systems.

Conversations with Turkish pharmacy students gave me the impression that industry offered attractive benefits, including the opportunity to balance reimbursement (Le,, work) with quality of life, a major concern of new pharmacists. This issue drives career decisions and ultimately the way the profession evolves, I also observed that the training students receive is designed almost exclusively along the lines of industrial practice. In Turkey we won't find the clinically focused care model we're used to; the incentives for practitioners are simply not there.

Almost all medications in Turkey can be obtained without prescription. Those medications requiring a prescription are paid for almost entirely through government insurance, In Turkey, medications are mostly the same as those available in the United States, but they are kept behind the counter and organized in glass cabinets according to disease state. All tablets and capsules come in unit-of-use boxes of varying amounts, In addition, almost half the cabinet space is devoted to vitamin and herbal supplements. …

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