Pharmacy students show Christ’s love through medical mission trip in Egypt

Story by Sarah Goff

Six Union pharmacy students spent a week this summer as part of a medical mission team that served in Cairo, Egypt. The students — Bailee Esch, Hunter Hanson, Payton Pulse, Firas Quran, Brooke Sanders and Ali Ward — spent four days working in medical clinics, each day in a different local Christian church, as well as spending two days sightseeing during their July 12-21 trip.

photo 4On the very first day of clinic, Pulse, a second-year Doctor of Pharmacy candidate from Bolivar, Tennessee, met a mother and her three children. The first two children had common, easily treatable cases of parasites. The mother expressed concern for her youngest child, a small 3-year-old boy who was sleeping in her arms. A few months ago, she explained, he had undergone surgery for an intestinal issue.

She then showed them his incision: it had burst open, and his intestines were protruding from his abdomen. Shocked, the team worked quickly to get the family to the emergency room.

“My heart hurt for this family, but at the same time it was bursting at the seams with happiness because we helped make an impact on someone, and possibly saved a life just by using our skills God blessed us with,” Pulse wrote in a blog post about the day.

This trip was the culmination of the Medical Missions class taught by Adrian Cross, adjunct professor of pharmacy practice at Union and registered store manager at the Walgreens Community Specialty Pharmacy on Skyline Drive in Jackson. This trip was in partnership with Englewood Baptist Church of Jackson, where Cross has been a member for 24 years. The mission team consisted of a veterinarian, dentist, schoolteacher and pharmacist in addition to the pharmacy students.

photo 5A local Christian ministry in Cairo helped set up the clinics, provide translators and bring in patients. The medical mission team offered an eyeglasses station, pharmacy stations, a health education station and a station to entertain waiting children.

In the Egyptian healthcare context, the role of a pharmacist is different than in the United States — they are the ones who diagnose common issues and then send the patient to the local pharmacy, where they dispense the needed medication. This was an answer to prayer, Pulse said, since the team did not include a doctor or nurse who typically would have examined and diagnosed patients.

This made the trip different from his 16 years of medical missions experience, Cross said. They were able to interact more with the patients and pray with them, too.

For Pulse, this trip was out of her comfort zone. She had never been outside the U.S. before and had never even considered going on an international mission trip. Although it is easy for pharmacy students to be consumed with their studies, she said it is important to venture out and experience new things.

“It’s definitely impacted the way I look at these disease states that we’re learning about and look at the drugs that treat them,” Pulse said. “It makes you appreciate what you’re learning and appreciate the patients you’re going to be helping more.”

Cross said he loves to see young professionals get involved in missions and use their talents to help people. He encourages students who feel called to go on a medical mission trip to pray about serving.

“If you go and you make yourself available, God will use you in ways that you would never imagine, and I think that happened this year with each one of the students,” he said.

Learn more about Union’s College of Pharmacy at uu.edu/pharmacy.

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The Value and Purpose of Pharmacy

Post written by Drew Wells, doctor of pharmacy student

DrewSills_0003Pharmacy was an interest of mine for several years before entering pharmacy school. I liked the idea of developing a vast knowledge of medications and incorporating that directly into patient care.

But being a pharmacist is more than counting pills, knowing mechanism of actions, counseling patients on side effects of medications, or catching drug-drug interactions. While that is a major part of our skillset and training, we have more to offer!

Pharmacists serve as a first-line resource for patients. Pharmacists listen to patients’ stories and enjoy seeing a smile on a patient’s face. Pharmacists see a patient struggling with a diagnosis or at a low moment in life. Pharmacists must be ready to meet people where they are and serve them well!

Union’s College of Pharmacy is a great place to be educated, trained, equipped, and mentored to be a great pharmacist. A pharmacist willing to take the time to invest in patients and provide comprehensive care. A pharmacist who understands the potential impact one can have on a patient’s life. The comprehensive training Union provides, ranging from learning the details of the human body in gross anatomy to discussing moral and ethical considerations, has only strengthened my passion and desire to be a pharmacist.

Pharmacy has already taught me many skills and lessons. I have learned how to study efficiently, manage my time, effectively communicate, and serve my peers and patients. Most importantly, I have learned how to rest in God’s grace. The latter of those lessons seems increasingly important each and every day. No matter if you are in the grind of a long semester of pharmacy school or entering into a busy season of life, learning to rest in God’s grace is a must.

God does not need our work to keep him on his throne. He is the one who leaves his throne to work for us. Trusting God in your work means learning to put it to the side and enthrone him in your rest. To trust God in my work has brought joy, confidence, and reassurance that my desire to serve people as a pharmacist has true value and a greater purpose. I am excited to see God’s plan continue to unfold here at Union and in my future career as a pharmacist.

 

Interprofessional Mega-Simulation

171111_KMW_InterdisciplinarySimulation_022Union University held its first interprofessional mega-simulation Nov. 11. Interprofessional Education (IPE) occurs when students learn about, from and with other health care providers.

This IPE learning activity was designed to allow health care professional students from the College of Pharmacy, the School of Nursing and the School of Social Work to work together to provide patient care. Additionally, students from the theater department made this simulation more life-like by serving as family members of the patient. The objective of the simulation was to allow students to demonstrate IPE competencies to practice as collaborative health care team members.

171111_KMW_InterdisciplinarySimulation_037Forty health care teams that participated in the simulation, each composed of one or two students from each of the three disciplines. As the students worked together to provide care for their patient and for family members, this simulation allowed them to identify not only their own roles and responsibilities, but also those of other team members.

During debriefing sessions after the simulation exercise, students described the activity with words such as fun, intense, stressful, challenging and confidence booster. Students said the activity increased their realization of the importance of communication and collaboration in providing patient care.

They also walked away from the activity with a greater appreciation of the other disciplines on their team. Students reported that they better understand the importance of relationships with other health care team members and learned skills that will help them in their future practice.

Post by Kim Lindsey-Goodrich, photos by Kristi Woody

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