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Growing Collaboration in South Africa

Published on 02 November 2015

Despite a nearly 9,000-mile distance, the collaboration between St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is closer than ever. Two years ago, the College entered into a twinning partnership to help NMMU build up its educational program for pharmacy technicians in South Africa. The partnership, funded through a grant from the American International Health Alliance (AIHA), addresses the need for skilled medical workers to provide care for patients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Funds come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the President’s Emergency Planning for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

“Once the College’s faculty came and we began to work together, we had the opportunity to have them involved in the Bachelor of Pharmacy side as well,” says Lia Kritiotis, NMMU lecturer.

Expanding Opportunities

The College has worked with NMMU to expand its experiential education opportunities, develop a textbook relevant to South African technicians, and assist with the introduction of a new curriculum.

“I highly doubt it would have been possible to roll something out of that caliber as a first round without the College’s help,” Kritiotis says.

Recently, Kritiotis and two of her NMMU colleagues visited the College to further the partnership. While in St. Louis, they toured a variety of practice settings including hospitals and community pharmacies to observe the interaction between pharmacists and technicians firsthand.

College faculty members have made several trips to NMMU, and nine STLCOP students took the opportunity to visit South Africa for an advanced pharmacy practice experience. While visiting South Africa, students were immersed in the country’s health care system. They also had the opportunity to lead lectures in NMMU pharmacy technician classes.

“That makes a huge difference when we are really stretched between our lecture loads and practicals,” says Janet Barry, NMMU lecturer.

Mentorship

College faculty have also acted as mentors to some NMMU faculty.

“Drs. Ken Schafermeyer and Amy Tiemeier have done quite a bit of training,” Barry says. Schafermeyer, professor of pharmacy administration and director of international programs at the College, talked about the importance of analyzing quiz and test answers as well as developing strategies to blend classroom interaction and online learning. Tiemeier, director of community partnerships, associate director of experiential education, and associate professor of pharmacy practice, covered experiential education and incorporating video content into classes.

“Being able to reach more students in clever ways, by means of doing videos, is great,” Barry says.

The College’s Office of Information Technology also helped develop a software program that NMMU can use to track and assess the experiential education component of its curriculum.

College faculty members are planning one more visit to NMMU during the initial grant period. According to Schafermeyer, the relationship has been so positive that it has been used as an example of a successful international twinning partnership by AIHA. That gives him hope for more grant funding to continue working with pharmacy educators in South Africa. The College has applied for renewal of the grant.

“No matter what happens, we’ll find a way to continue our relationship,” Schafermeyer says. “It’s been a tremendous win for both institutions, as we’ve both learned and grown thanks to our collaboration.”

Pictured (l-r): Janet Barry, Lia Kritiotis, Amy Tiemeier ’01/’02, Celeste Naude, Kristina Bryowsky ’96/’97

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