My Summer Abroad… International Exchange at St. Louis College of Pharmacy

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An international exchange had pharmacy students travelling thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean for a large portion of the summer. Three St. Louis College of Pharmacy students recently completed a month-long stay in Lisbon, Portugal.  Stephanie Tackett, Brett Smith and Kierstyn Fornoff spent the first part of their trip working with Dr. Andreia Bruno of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) as education interns in which they helped develop leadership and interprofessional education programs to be used by schools of pharmacy in Africa. They’ll spend the rest of the time visiting hospital and retail pharmacies. While in Lisbon, they met a pharmacy student, Paula Batista, who was getting ready to come to STLCOP as part of an International Pharmacy Student Federation exchange program.

While the three STLCOP students delved into deep topics during their final year in school and blogged about their experience, the College hosted two international students in the early stages of their education. Paula Batista arrived from Portugal, and Zita Horpaçsi visited from Hungary. Batista is a student at Instituto Superior de Ciências da Saude Egas Moniz, and Horpaçsi studies at Semmelweis University. The pair spent four weeks in the St. Louis area learning about all aspects of the pharmacy profession as it is practiced in America. Their itinerary includes visits to community pharmacies, a hospital and mental health facility, and a tour of Express Scripts.  

“It has always been my dream to come to America,” Horpaçsi says. “I love seeing this place. In my country, pharmacy is so different.”

Batista says she is impressed by how much pharmacists care about their patients. She just returned from a visit to Gateway Apothecary, owned by Chris Geronsin ’77, which specializes in delivering medication to patients with HIV. 

“The pharmacists are constantly on the phone asking if patients are taking their medication,” she says. “Pharmacists are working on solutions like buzzers and reminders. The whole process on how the drugs get to the patients is very interesting.”

As for goals of the visit, both Batista and Horpaçsi are looking at how they can improve systems in their home country. The visit may also open up some career options. 

“Most people in Hungary go into community pharmacies,” Horpaçsi says. “I was happy to see that during my visit I will have the chance to work in hospital site and research site as well.”

Geronsin and Paul Juang, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the College, each spent a week with the students. Two faculty members at the SIU-Edwardsville School of Pharmacy,   Kelly Gable, Pharm.D.,  and Misti Gonzalez, Pharm.D., also hosted the students.     

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