Georgina Smith, a third-year student from the University of Lincoln, which is located in Lincoln, England, visited Creighton this summer for three weeks, in the International Pharmacy Students’ Federation (IPSF) Student Exchange Program (SEP). The program gives students all over the world a chance to experience what pharmacy means outside their own borders. IPSF is a leading international organization for promoting improved public health through education, networking and a range of publications and professional activities.
Smith reflected on her time not only at Creighton, but also her time in the Omaha community:
1: How did you get involved with the exchange program?
A student from my own university was involved in an exchange project last year in Seattle. He had such a great time and learned so much that it made me want to get involved. So I applied through the International Pharmacy Students’ Federation Student Exchange Program. I was fortunate to be chosen by Creighton University.
2: Why did you want to come to America for the program?
I went to Florida on a family holiday when I was younger. I had always wanted to go back to the U.S. to travel and experience more American culture. It was great that I got to come to Omaha because Nebraska wouldn’t have been a state I would have thought of traveling to on a holiday, and I absolutely loved it!
3. How does pharmacy differ in the UK and the U.S.?
Health care in general is very different in the UK compared to the U.S. because in the UK, health care is free and in America people have to pay for insurance and sometimes big contributions to prescriptions. More specifically to pharmacy, in the UK prescriptions do not come with refills; instead, you are required to go to the doctor to get a new prescription every time you run out of an item.
4. Which American pharmacy practices surprised you the most?
The community pharmacies surprised me the most. Americans can buy so many more products from a pharmacy than we can. In my country, most “over-the-counter” medicines are kept physically behind a counter and you need to speak to a pharmacist before being allowed to buy them. For example, in the UK you can only buy a maximum of 100 paracetamol (acetaminophen) from a pharmacy but obviously Americans can buy hundreds!
Drive-through pharmacies also amazed me. I had never even heard of a one before. A drive-through was something I would usually associate with McDonalds. I can’t imagine having them at home.
And finally, the way controlled drugs are stored in a pharmacy is very different. At home, controlled drugs are locked in a safe at all times, even when they are waiting to be collected by the patient, so when I saw controlled drugs just hanging in a collection bay among other normal drugs waiting to be collected by the patient, I was very surprised.
5. What did you learn while at Creighton that you’d like to incorporate in your own work as a pharmacist?
I’m not sure yet what I would incorporate as a pharmacist, but definitely as a student I will try to have more patient contact. I was so impressed with Creighton students’ confidence in speaking to patients when I observed them.
6. What were some of your favorite activities you did while in the U.S.?
I absolutely loved the Henry Doorly Zoo. I got to feed some stingrays which was incredible. We also had day trips to Kansas City, Missouri, and Lincoln, Nebraska. I am from Lincoln, England, so it was cool to be able to say I was in “the other Lincoln.” I also got to go to two baseball games, which was so much fun because I had never watched a baseball game before.
In terms of my favorite pharmacy practice activities, I enjoyed all of them. I learned so much and every day was different. I have to say my favorite experience was being in the hospital, feeling like a member of the clinical team when walking around with doctors and pharmacists and having the chance to observe a knee replacement and sleeve gastrectomy. I did not expect to ever be able to observe surgery, so thank you to Dr. April Smith for making that possible for me.
7. Anything else you’d like to add about your time at Creighton?
I would just like to say a huge thank you to Dr. Siracuse and Dr. Alsharif and their families for hosting me in their homes, and to all the students and faculty involved in organizing my exchange. I had the most incredible time and would encourage any pharmacy student to get involved in the IPSF exchange project. It is an invaluable experience and a great opportunity to experience a different culture at the same time.