Crossing Borders

Pharmacy students get new experience in exchange program

Brook Yordy and Kaitlyn Gary at Prince of Songkhla University Brook Yordy and Kaitlyn Gary at Prince of Songkhla University

August 22, 2016

By Sarah Russell

AUBURN, Alabama – This summer, Harrison School of Pharmacy’s influence stretched across the globe to Thailand through the U.S. Thai Consortium for the Development of Pharmacy Education in Thailand.

Two HSOP students travelled to Thailand to learn through hands-on work, while four Thai students travelled to Auburn to complete rotations.

Dr. Paul Jungnickel, a professor and associate dean of Harrison School of Pharmacy, began Auburn’s involvement in the consortium in 2012 with the help of faculty member Dr. Salisa Westrick, a Thailand native.

“This consortium really adds a lot to our school, because it provides some cross-cultural opportunities for both Thai and American students,” Dr. Jungnickel said.

Kaitlyn Gary and Brook Yordy, both rising fourth-year students at Harrison School of Pharmacy, spent five weeks this summer in Hat Yai, Thailand, at Prince of Songkla University through the U.S. Thai Consortium.

During their time in Thailand, they learned about the differences in healthcare from the Thai system to the United States’ and experienced Thai culture through food, travelling and meeting locals.

Day to day, the students worked side-by-side with residents in Prince of Songkla Hospital, a teaching hospital. After their first week orientation, Yordy and Gary became immersed in the work of pharmacists at the hospital.

“We spent most of our time ‘working up patients’ much like you would on a rotation in the United States,” Yordy said. “We would then discuss treatment options and differences in treatment choices between the United States and Thailand.”

During their time at Prince of Songkla Hospital, the students had rotations in the hematology ward and the neurosurgery unit, accompanying their preceptors during their rounds in the units.

“We had the chance to participate in grand rounds, often interacting with physicians who have questions on availability of treatments in the United States,” Yordy added. “We also had the opportunity to do a patient presentation for the Thai pharmacy students and residents as well as, a presentation on our curriculum at HSOP.”

Overall, they learned that the role of a pharmacist in Thailand is very similar to how Yordy and Gary have been trained at HSOP, which prides itself in preparing students for patient-focused careers.

“Thai pharmacists focus on patient counseling. We took notice of the counseling from our first day of rotation,” Gary said. “Patients with high risk drugs, such as warfarin and HIV medications, must spend time in the outpatient counseling room before being given their medication.”

Perhaps the patient-centered care model in Thailand stems from the Thai instinct to care, which Gary and Yordy say they admire and hope to develop themselves during their stay.

“I do hope I have learned how to have a ‘Thai heart,’” Gary said.  “A ‘Thai heart’ encompasses the generosity and kindness of the Thai people. Everyone, from the pharmacy preceptors to people on the street, have been so gracious in helping us navigate Thailand culture, food and streets.”


Yordy and Gary give a presentation on HSOP's curriculum
Brook Yordy and Kaitlyn Gary give a presentation on HSOP's curriculum.
Thai students meet with the HSOP Drug Information Center
Thai students meet with the HSOP Drug Information Center.

While Yordy and Gary were in Thailand, four Thai pharmacy students spent time in Auburn as well.

Nitiporn “Nikki” Nitisombat and Reutinun “Rina” Inta, from Naresuan University, and Seedaengnoi “Shannon” Chaninat and Phanichanaphan “Tina” Atchariyaporn from Mahasarakham University travelled to Auburn in June.

These four women are the first Thai students to visit Auburn University through the consortium. Until this year, all of HSOP’s Thai visitors have been faculty members of their universities.

“My favorite part is to go see the PPE patients, because I like to go out and communicate with them,” Tina said. “Talk with the patients, make sure they are they taking their medicine the right way, things like that.”

The students explained in their schools in Thailand, they also have patient visit programs, where groups of students travel to villages and stay with a host family for a week. During their time in the village, they screen the family and community members for health problems and counsel them on their medications.
They enjoyed the PPE program here at Auburn because it gave them facetime with patients, but they also liked the longevity of HSOP’s program.

“Auburn’s PPE program is great because every group gets to know their patient over the years,” Shannon said. “It helps the patients know that their pharmacist cares about them, and that’s giving them the best care.”

“Making a difference in patients’ lives is what being a pharmacist is about,” Rina said. “It’s the same in Thailand and the U.S.!”

Read more about all the students’ experiences abroad by visiting their blogs at www.goingthaiinhatyai.blogspot.com and www.nikkirx.blogspot.com.


Petting a tiger
A pair of Auburn Tigers get to meet an actual tiger in Thailand.
Celebrating Independence Day
Thai students celebrate American Independence Day on July 4.

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: August 22, 2016