Foreign Visitors Get a Taste of Pharmacy School in the US

Students from the USC School of Pharmacy discuss LA activities with visiting students from Taipei

Students from the USC School of Pharmacy discuss LA activities with visiting students from Taipei Medical University School of Pharmacy, China Medical University College of Pharmacy, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Sciences, Kaohsiung Medical University College of Pharmacy, and Tajen University.

Students from the USC School of Pharmacy discuss LA activities with visiting students from Taipei Medical University School of Pharmacy, China Medical University College of Pharmacy, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Sciences, Kaohsiung Medical University College of Pharmacy, and Tajen University.[/caption]As part of the USC School of Pharmacy’s global mission, the school annually hosts a group of pharmacy students from Asian universities for a 4-week program focusing on clinical pharmacy and drug design. On July 26, participants received certificates of completion after presenting their work to all programs participants, including those involved USC faculty and students.

This summer’s student participants hail from Taipei Medical University School of Pharmacy, China Medical University College of Pharmacy, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Sciences and Kaohsiung Medical University College of Pharmacy, all formal partners with the USC School of Pharmacy, as well as Tajen University. Joyce Han, a faculty member from Chia Nan University, also participated in the program.

“This program provides a unique opportunity for us to share knowledge and experiences with schools from the Pacific Rim,” says Michael Wincor, associate dean for global initiatives and technology at the School of Pharmacy, who directs the program.

While at USC, visiting students either focus on clinical pharmacy or on drug design. Those in the clinical pharmacy section complete a mini clinical therapeutics module, giving them a firsthand look at the kind of course work pursued by USC pharmacy students. “We really want the students to see and hear what clinical pharmacy education and practice is like at USC and in the US,” says Wincor.

The visiting students not only have lectures that mirror pharmacy school curricula but are also taken to various clinical sites, such as the Keck Hospital, Norris Cancer Center and the USC Pharmacies, to witness how pharmacy practice is conducted in these settings.

Students in the drug design section, directed by Associate Professor Ian Haworth, are charged with a specific drug design topic and present their findings at course completion. This year, the students worked in groups to design a new analog for the diabetes drug, sitagliptin. The students made their drug design presentations in English using graphics to explain their work.

“They really did a wonderful job – the presentations were excellent. It’s very impressive to see what they’ve learned in just three weeks and to be able to present their findings in English,” said Haworth.

Drs. Rebecca Romero and Ronald Alkana also teach in the program as does Dr. Brian Sutch. Fourth-year pharmacy students Mutaz Ahmad, Michael Bezikian, Tram Nguyen and Denise Mullery were also a pivotal part of program. “We interact with the visiting students on a daily basis – from teaching to showing them clinical facilities to taking them around LA,” said Ahmad.

“We give even the students in the drug design section a flavor of clinical pharmacy,” says Wincor. “One of our goals for the program is for these students to return home with new clinical understanding and knowledge and an excitement about pharmacy practice.”
When the visitors weren’t busy with their studies, they enjoyed sightseeing with trips to the Hollywood Bowl, Santa Monica/Venice beaches, Getty Center and Disneyland.

This program is just one of dozens of exchange programs that the School of Pharmacy maintains with institutions throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and South America.