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Technology, techniques and collaboration encourage visiting pharmacy students

Egypt StudentsFor the past month, a quartet of Egyptian pharmacy students have been making the rounds at Creighton University and the various clinics and hospitals of CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center.

Getting a feel for the rhythms of academic study and work as a pharmacist in the United States, the students pointed to the regular interaction between students, faculty and clinicians, as well as the work of the collaborative care model at Creighton, the students from Misr International University (MIU) in Cairo said they’re taking home invaluable lessons of the role pharmacists can play in care.

“We’ve had some real-life interactions and experiences in rotations, and that has been the most important thing to me,” said Marina Gawarge, a recent graduate from MIU’s pharmacy program now studying for licensure. “We don’t have anything similar in Egypt and I think it’s something everyone could benefit from, especially when it comes to working in a hospital. For us, it’s mainly physicians in the hospital, but to have interactions between physicians and pharmacists like we’ve seen here could really benefit care.”

Seeing technological tools for pharmacists, at their fingertips in a clinical setting, were also a welcome learning experience. Dina Elgindy, an instructor and a doctoral student at MIU, said she sees a new era possible in her home country as clinical pharmacy is just beginning to make inroads.

“To see how clinical pharmacy it has developed in the U.S., and to see the technology put to work in something like electronic medical records, it made us all realize how we can better communicate and use technology,” Elgindy said. “It’s something we’re just beginning to develop in Egypt and I think we can all see what the benefits are by being here.”

But in their stops at each of Creighton’s health professions schools, clinics and hospitals, the Egyptian students developed an appreciation for Creighton’s well-rounded approach involving an entire team of health care professionals in patient care.

“There was so much information to process,” said Philip Shehata, a senior pharmacy student at MIU. “The techniques and the devices we learned were great. But I think it was seeing the teamwork between pharmacists, physicians, occupational and physical therapists, nurses, that was most exciting.”

The Egyptian students sat in on lectures with Creighton faculty from other disciplines, too, and had interactions with students across the health professions.

Those moments, said Reem Hussein, an MIU senior, were ones that truly stuck out in the educational and clinical experience.

“We were counseling patients together and learning from one another the best ways to search for information,” she said. “You can learn a lot from your fellow students in that interaction and I think that has been the most important part of the experience for me.”

This marks the first time Creighton has hosted a contingent of pharmacy students from Egypt and Naser Alsharif, PharmD, PhD, a Creighton professor of pharmacy sciences who regularly teaches at MIU and has established a Creighton connection there.

Alsharif and the other faculty, the students said, were another highlight of their Creighton experience.

“Dr. Alsharif, he’s like our godfather in all this,” Elgindy said. “And there were so many other faculty and staff who reached out and truly made us feel at home.”

“They gave us everything they had,” Shehata said. “Students, faculty, staff. We couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome.”

Alsharif is hopeful this first foray might be the beginning of a new and lasting partnership between Creighton and the Egyptian university, much like the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions’ partnerships with universities in China that regularly send occupational therapy and physical therapy students to Creighton over the summer months.

“I think everyone has learned a great deal from one another and the cross-cultural experience is another important way that we can build collaboration in the health care field,” Alsharif said. “It’s our hope that these wonderful students will return to Cairo and tell their colleagues about what they learned and get some more students interested in making the trip to Creighton to learn and see a different side of pharmacy practice.”

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